Tag Archives: Christian calling

ADRIFT ON THE OCEAN

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

We lived on St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands for 2 1/2 years in the 1970s. We enjoyed going to the ocean, sometimes just to walk the beach looking for shells, sometimes to sit and watch the seagulls and listen to the waves, sometimes to swim, and sometimes to do all of these activities. One day, I inflated an air mattress, laid back on it, shut my eyes and relaxed. After some minutes, I looked up and was surprised at how far I had drifted from shore. It seemed like a few blocks back to shore. It was so long ago that I do not recall if this happened because the tide was going out, or for some other reason. As I think about that experience, it reminds me of the fact that we Christians can drift a long way from the Lord without realizing it is happening. It is not always intentional. It happens because we get busy and quit reading the Bible regularly. It happens because we get busy and quit praying regularly. It happens because we get busy and quit attending a Bible-preaching church regularly. It happens because we get busy and neglect Christian friendships. It happens because we get lax in our resistance to bad influences, such as immoral TV programs. It happens when we allow non-Christian friends to pull us away from our commitment to Jesus Christ. Whether we drift intentionally or unintentionally, it is up to us admit it and to get back to shore, so to speak. If you have drifted away from the Lord, it will do you good to read Psalms 32 and 51, and act on their truths.

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The Day Dad Made Me Mad

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

In a recent post, I told about the time when I was a teenager in Minneapolis, MN and my dad found my marijuana. That was in the late 1960’s. This post is about another day, the day when Dad made me mad. It took place in the same time period, and in the same location on Lyndale Ave. South.

To understand what happened, you have to keep in mind that at that time I was a frequent drug user, and I lived the lifestyle that went with it. This means I loved rock music. Some of my favorite rock musicians and groups were Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Cream.

So how did Dad make me mad? Well, one day I went home from somewhere, maybe from hanging out with friends, and was not expecting Dad to be home. I went in the front door, and there he was in the living room listening to music. He was hard of hearing, so the record player was turned up LOUD. But Dad was not listening to my favorite rock music. He was listening to a woman sing the hymn called “How Great Thou Art.” It was so contrary to the music I liked, and to the way I was living that it immediately made me mad. So mad, in fact, that I quickly walked to another room, slammed the door shut and yelled out, “Can’t you listen to some happy music?!”

Here’s a point I want to make from this event: Christian music has the power to confront a sinful lifestyle. It has the power to shine the light of Biblical truth into hearts and minds darkened by sin. It has the power to help people see their need of God’s forgiveness, which he gives to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. The Bible is God’s Word, and it says, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) The Bible says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) The Bible says, “In him (Jesus Christ)  we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Ephesians 1:7) The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” (Acts 16:31) All of these Biblical truths, and many others, can be, and have been, expressed through Christian music.

But what if the musical style that is used to accompany the Bible’s truths is the same as the style used by rock musicians? The result is the joining together of music and words that contradict one another. Do rock musicians use sacred music to express their words? Of course not! The fact is, Christian words and rock music do not belong together. And when they are joined together, the message in the words gets diluted by the music. We cannot join words about sacred subjects to music that is secular and anti-sacred by its very nature.  But, unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened in recent decades. Well-meaning Christians musicians have been the driving force behind this blending of the sacred and the secular and anti-sacred. Their goal has been to reach more people with the Gospel. But the results have not justified this blending of opposites, for by it Christians have become more like the world than different from it. Therefore, we need a reminder that this is not how it should be. Such a reminder is found in the Bible, in the first two verses of the twelfth chapter of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians. The whole chapter is given below, and is taken from the Modern English Version (MEV). The Modern English Version was published in 2014, and is a new translation of the same Old Testament text and the same  New Testament text from which the King James Version was translated. The MEV of Romans 12 was taken from this website: http://www.biblegateway.com. This website has important information about the Modern English Version.

Romans 12 Modern English Version (MEV)

The New Life in Christ

12 I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sound judgment, according to the measure of faith God has distributed to every man. For just as we have many parts in one body, and not all parts have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and all are parts of one another. We have diverse gifts according to the grace that is given to us: if prophecy, according to the proportion of faith; if service, in serving; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with generosity; he who rules, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Rules of the Christian Life

Let love be without hypocrisy. Hate what is evil. Cleave to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another with brotherly love; prefer one another in honor, 11 do not be lazy in diligence, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord, 12 rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer, 13 contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Do not pretend to be wiser than you are.

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Commend what is honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him a drink;
for in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Modern English Version (MEV)The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.

The Pastor And His Former Pastorates

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
Spearfish, SD

My theme is “The pastor and his former pastorates.” Before I get into the subject, let me say that I have deliberately referred to the pastor and HIS former pastorates, not HIS or HER former pastorates, for the simple reason that the Bible, the only infallible handbook on such matters, very clearly does not endorse women being pastors. I do not know all the reasons why God calls only men to be pastors, but I do know it is taught in the Bible. And because the Bible is the infallible Word of God, we do not need to know all the reasons for any of its teachings. We just need to accept them and follow them. If you will open-mindedly read what are called “the pastoral letters/epistles,” you will find God’s mind on this subject. Those letters were written by the apostle Paul, and  are his two letters to Timothy and his one letter to Titus. And if you read other parts of the New Testament, such as the Book Acts, you will find that God had only men put into positions of pastoral leadership in local churches.

Now, back to my theme: “The pastor and his former pastorates.” The main point I want to convey on this subject is that pastors must take their hands off their former pastorates. Their role of leadership in a local church ends when their role as pastor ends in that church. They no longer are to be involved in providing leadership to a former pastorate, unless officially asked to do so by the leaders of that church. And even then it must be done very carefully and only  temporarily. But what often happens is that a former pastor has difficulty giving up his role in a church, especially if he had been with a  church for a long time and was well-liked by the people of that church. So, even though it is done with good intentions, he continues to assert some influence on a former pastorate.  His friendships with individuals from a former pastorate do not end when his role in that church ends. Those friends often want to keep him informed of what is now going on in his absence, and seek his advice on church-related matters. Longtime church friends miss his leadership, and might tell him they do not like the changes that have taken place since he left the church. In such situations, it is easy for a former pastor to take sides with those friends, which only makes matters worse.

So, what should a former pastor do in such circumstances? He should tell them that their relationship with one another can never be same as it was when he was their pastor.  He should tell his friends that they should not talk to him about the inner workings of his former pastorate.  He should tell them to talk, instead, to the leaders of the church about their concerns. He should tell them to not stir up controversy in the church by secretly talking to others about their objections to the  new leadership and the changes that have been made in the church. He should tell them that change is inevitable with new leadership. He should tell them to accept change, so long as it does not contradict the Bible’s teachings, or the church’s church covenant and by-laws. In other words, a pastor should help the people from his former church make the transition to new leadership, and to accept harmless change in the church.

Christians Must Protect Themselves From Bad Influences

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
Spearfish, SD

       The Bible is the infallible Word of God, and it often tells us that Christians are called to live holy lives.  It tells us this in many ways. One of them is by direct command, such as we find in 1 Peter 1:15 &16, which says, “But as he which called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” This is referring to the fact that God has called us to  salvation by the Gospel message. This message is a call  to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. And since God who calls us is holy, he expects Christians to also be holy.

      The King James Version, quoted above, was published in 1611, and it used the word “conversation” in a way different from what it now means to us Americans. To us, it means having a conversation with someone. But back then, in this context, it meant one’s manner of life. The New King james Version is in modern English, and makes Peter’s point easier to understand. Here is how the New KJV puts verse 15: “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” Therefore Peter’s point was that God has called Christians to live in such a way that their whole lives will please God. 

       In the Bible we find many more statements concerning the Christian’s duty to live a holy life. An example of such a statement is found in the 33rd verse of the 15th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth. Here is what it says in the King James Version: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” Here is what it says in the New King James Version: “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.” Here is how the English Standard Version (ESV) puts it: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ ” This verse is the basis for the title of this post: “Christians Must Protect Themselves From Bad Influences. Since Christians are called to live holy lives, they must take steps to protect themselves from influences that will interfere with their calling to be holy in all their conduct. This calling is not easy to live up to. We Christians are still able to stray from the Lord, and we live in a sinful world which would, if it had its way, draw us away from the path of holy living. So we need to be reminded of what 1 Corinthians 15;33 says: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ ” This means we need to choose our friends with care. We need to be very selective about what we watch on TV, which has become a major source of moral filth. We need to be on guard so we don’t let the bad morals of neighbors, workmates, relatives, and even other Christians, corrupt us. We need to be gracious with others as we protect ourselves from bad influences, but it must be done if we are going to live up to our divine calling as Christians.