Sunday, December 21, 2014

What if I am wrong?

Hebrews 9:
24For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands,which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those whoeagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. 

Jesus was and is the ultimate sacrifice for all of mankind. Under the law, the people of Israel had to bring a yearly sacrifice to have their sins wavered for another year.Jesus came to free us from the condemnation of our sins for eternity. Yes, indeed, we have the freedom from sin for eternity if we are willing to accept His sacrifice. This seems weird to many around the world. Why do we need a savior?, they ask. Why is sin so offensive to the living God? Why should a loving God send people to Hell? All of these are great humanistic questions that are only thought up in the natural. There is a spiritual part of our human make-up that we seem to forget about. Being human does not stop at the flesh but carries into the spiritual. Sin is a spiritual cancer which separates us from the sinless God. We don't have to understand it all. We don't have to try and comprehend it all, but the fact remains it is truth. Jesus came to the world to redeem us from the fall in the Garden. He came to break us free from the chains of corruption which Satan helped to create. 
Here is the true question that all non-believers should be asking. " What if I am wrong." What if I am wrong about the God thing and the eternity with him thing? Well, if I am wrong and there is no afterlife then I have loss nothing. I have lived a good life. I have served my fellow man and have given up my life to help others. I have reproduced with my wife and loved my family to the best of my ability. I have allowed the biblical moral code to guide my life which allowed me to treat others like Jesus would treat them. All in all, if I am wrong. I have loss nothing. My body goes into a shallow grave and that is it. 
What about you? What if you are wrong? If you are wrong then you have loss so much more. He have lost your chance to know the living God and have a relationship with Him. You have lived a life that was mostly consumed by the person you loved most. YOURSELF. You did not fully care about your fellow man nor did you live by the words of Christ. Your life was unholy and now, at your death, you awaken to find yourself ( your spiritual self) to be in a pit of Hell.  There is no way out. There is no turning back , and there is no warning for the friends and family you left behind. Your eternity. Your spiritual self is now in an eternal place of darkness. You can't blame God. You can't blame others. You are the blame. The truth was presented to you , and you refused to listen. You refused to follow it. It is like a murderer being told not to kill their victim but ignores the warning. Then they are brought to justice. Guess what? The expectation is that they will face justice. Jesus came so we would not have to face justice for our sin even though we deserve it. Sin is a choice. Yes, we are born into sin but it does not become a controlling factor over our lives until we are able to understand right from wrong. God built it within our human DNA to know this truth. You will be brought to justice for your actions, and I will too. Therefore, I ask the question to you again. WHAT IF YOU ARE WRONG?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Three Questions the Church should be asking

In order for the Body of Christ to continue into the next decade and beyond; there should be questions asked. Below are some of those questions the church should be asking themselves today.

1. When is the last time we heard from God on a deep level? ( corporately)
  a. Acts 13:1-3  Barnabas, Simeon (called the Black), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (a close friend of Herod since childhood), and Saul were prophets and teachers in the church in Antioch.  (2)  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set Barnabas and Saul apart for me. I want them to do the work for which I called them."  (3)  After fasting and praying, Simeon, Lucius, and Manaen placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul, and released them from their work in Antioch.
 b. The body of Christ in Antioch were worshipping  and fasting together and seeking the Holy Spirit together. The Holy Spirit responded and confirmed to the church and through the prophets that Paul and Barnabas were to embark on the next missions trip to spread the word of God. When is the last time your church did this? When is the last time that the whole church prayed and fasted together to send others out by the direction of the Holy Spirit? Some people today who are on the mission field or getting ready to go on the mission field might not would be their currently. That is an interesting thought? When will the church allow Holy Spirit full access to the governance of the Body?
2.  Is our main focus on the spreading of the Gospel?
 a. Matthew 28:18-20  When Jesus came near, he spoke to them. He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  (19)  So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  (20)  Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. "And remember that I am always with you until the end of time."
  b. Jesus' greatest command to the church, in regards to purpose or focus, was the spreading of the gospel to the world. That is it. In today's church setting the interpretation of the world means anywhere else besides my own neighborhood. The great commission is for every believer not just for the evangelist or the missionary. We are called to share the word of God. Our main focus has shifted to church politics and making the Christian faith a Social club. 

3. What is the leadership doing in the body of Christ?
 a. 1 Timothy 3:1-7  This is a statement that can be trusted: If anyone sets his heart on being a bishop, he desires something excellent.  (2)  A bishop must have a good reputation. He must have only one wife, be sober, use good judgment, be respectable, be hospitable, and be able to teach.  (3)  He must not drink excessively or be a violent person, but he must be gentle. He must not be quarrelsome or love money.  (4)  He must manage his own family well. His children should respectfully obey him.  (5)  (If a man doesn't know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)  (6)  He must not be a new Christian, or he might become arrogant like the devil and be condemned.  (7)  People who are not Christians must speak well of him, or he might become the victim of disgraceful insults that the devil sets as traps for him.
  b. Look on TV today, and you will find the condition of church leadership. Many have fallen by the wayside. The reputations are shattered or bruised. They don't use good judgment but put the Body of Christ into a deep sleep of control or debt. They preach messages that are more like Pep rally events than teachings to mature the folk. The love and longing for money has increased while the church and needy are left to defend for themselves.They rather build multi-million dollar facilities than orphanages and places for widows. Their spouses or children disobey or curse God publically. Finally, the church allows new Christian converts to play major leadership roles without sacrifice and growth in the things of God. This has to stop. Humility has to become a main mantra again for the leadership of the church. Church leadership is not hierarchical but made up of servant leadership. When protestants desired to break away from the Catholic church; they wanted nothing similar. Today, protestant churches are still Catholic churches with Priests still at the helm. We just call them something different. ( Pastor, youth Pastor, children's pastor, worship pastor and so forth.) Let's be honest are we truly activating the body of Christ or just the few lucky ones who make their way up into church leadership? If the Church is not fully functioning then your work as a leader is not finished. Also maybe your approach and ideology needs to change. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Worthy of Hire

I have travelled the globe and seen pastors struggle to provide for their families. I helped a Pastor and his family in India who were contemplating a family suicide because conditions were so bad. Why are leaders of churches around the world not being fully paid for their positions? Is being paid as a pastor even a biblical truth or an American Christian truth?

I want to help answer some of these questions for those of you that are struggling around the world. American Christianity does put off the persona that if you are not a full time minister and getting a paycheck from the church then you are not truly a minister nor do you have the faith in God to provide for you. Let me squash this false doctrine. It is not a biblical one.

Truth #1:
When Jesus sent out the Disciples, he did tell them that God would provide for their needs and not to worry about anything.

Matthew 10:
Sending Out the Twelve

5These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying:“Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9Provide neither gold nor silver norcopper in your money belts, 10nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.
11“Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12And when you go into a household, greet it. 13If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!

Here is the question. Was Jesus sending the disciples out on a full time ministry trip or a short term mission trip?  He sent them out on a short term missions trip. He changed his command to them before He was about to die and ascend to heaven. He was releasing them into full time ministry ( Man made word not biblical one) and he told them something different. READ BELOW
Luke 22:
Supplies for the Road

35And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?”
So they said, “Nothing.”
36Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. 37For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.”
38So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.”
And He said to them, “It is enough.”

Did Jesus lose faith? Why did he change his mind? The Apostles were going to be the fathers of the faith from this point on. Jesus knew it would get rough. He knew that the road ahead for them would not be easy. It had nothing to do with God's provision going away from them. It did have something to do with practical living. We live in a complex world that is getting more complex by the minute. In America, there are plenty of ministers who have the ability to be paid for their ministry efforts. However, it is not the same in every country nor is it supposed to be. I have seen first hand how pastors in other nations have lived below the poverty line due to this American teaching. It is ok to have a job and do full time ministry. A man who does not work, does not eat.

Truth # 2: The scripture tells us to Honor Elders who are serving the body of Christ.
I Timothy 5:
Honor the Elders

17Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.18For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. 20Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.
21I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality. 22Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.
23No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.
24Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. 25Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.

Let's put some things into context of this whole scripture that I believe is misread sometimes. In both the Old and New testaments the word for Elder meant someone with advance age and wisdom. In the New testament the Greek work for elder is Presbuteros which simply means elder and can figuratively mean like an elder over a council. In the New Testament times churches were ran by Elders not just by one Pastor. Paul is clear when he puts a plural spin on the word Elders. Therefore, if we use just this scripture. Should only elders be the ones getting paid for their services to the Body of Christ? Did Paul express this because there was no retirement plan for the elderly during that time for most people? The Greek word for Honor is " time" ( pronounced tee-may) which does mean to give pay. Therefore, Paul was talking about monetary support in some fashion. However, there is nothing which says this was a full time event , weekly event , or monthly event. Once again it was only suggested to be given to those who have been in the faith for long time and  were serving as Elders/Mature leaders to the Body of Christ. The Elders did consist of Apostles, Prophets, teachers, Evangelists, and pastors within the local churches. Please note that this one passage of scripture only says give them double the honor or double the wages. What was the wages based off of? Were they based off a weekly wage or monthly wage? It is actually hard to determine what a wage was during this time. Some people were paid with food and other necessities. Some were given coins or a daily wage. Historically it is hard to determine what was actually given. It stands to reason that the church took care of those who where elderly leaders of the body of Christ. In my second church, I would give monetary gifts to those who were considered elders in our church. It would be $100.00 every quarter. It was pay but not a pay check. 

Truth # 3: People who spread the gospel have a right to be paid.
Paul was forever fighting at his place at the apostolic round table. The oringinal apostles were, at some point, being supported financially by the church. Scripture is unclear on how long this support took place and how much support was given.
1 Corinthians 9:1-18 GWDon’t you agree that I’m a free man? Don’t you agree that I’m an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord? Aren’t you the result of my work for the Lord?  If I’m not an apostle to other people, at least I’m an apostle to you. You are the seal which proves that I am the Lord’s apostle.  This is how I defend myself to those who cross-examine me.  Don’t we have the right to eat and drink?  Don’t we have the right to take our wives along with us like the other apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas  do?  Or is it only Barnabas and I who don’t have any rights, except to find work to support ourselves? Does a soldier ever serve in the army at his own expense? Does anyone plant a vineyard and not eat the grapes? Does anyone take care of a flock and not drink milk from the sheep?  Am I merely stating some human rule? Don’t Moses’ Teachings say the same thing?  Moses’ Teachings say, “Never muzzle an ox when it is threshing  grain.” God’s concern isn’t for oxen.  Isn’t he speaking entirely for our benefit? This was written for our benefit so that the person who plows or threshes should expect to receive a share of the crop.  If we have planted the spiritual seed that has been of benefit to you, is it too much if we receive part of the harvest from your earthly goods?  If others have the right to expect this from you, don’t we deserve even more? But we haven’t used our rights. Instead, we would put up with anything in order not to hinder the Good News of Christ in any way. Don’t you realize that those who work at the temple get their food from the temple? Don’t those who help at the altar get a share of what is on the altar?  In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who spread the Good News should earn their living from the Good News. I haven’t used any of these rights, and I haven’t written this in order to use them now. I would rather die than have anyone turn my bragging into meaningless words.  If I spread the Good News, I have nothing to brag about because I have an obligation to do this. How horrible it will be for me if I don’t spread the Good News!  If I spread the Good News willingly, I’ll have a reward. But if I spread the Good News unwillingly, I’m ⌊only⌋ doing what I’ve been entrusted to do. So what is my reward? It is to spread the Good News free of charge. In that way I won’t use the rights that belong to those who spread the Good News.
Paul often preached to the Corinthians about their sparingly giving. Paul was making a clear point and probably out of frustration. Barnabas and Paul raised up money to go on these missionary journeys. They needed to replenish their funds so they could continue the work of the gospel. This passage of scripture does point out one truth. Those who are traveling to preach the good news need financial backing from the church. We are all called to spread the message of Christ; however, not everyone is called to be an apostle or missionary. When Paul went on his missionary travels he needed some type of income. The same is true today. There are two young men on TBN that travel the world going from one country to another. They call the show Travel the Road. The are spreading the gospel and are not dormant in one area. Their type of work would make it hard to have a secular job. The idea of spreading the gospel is a reference to a farmer spreading the seed out across the land. The whole land is being covered and the farmer is not standing in one place. Paul did make a point to say that he would spread the gospel no matter what. The spreading of the Gospel was more important than the paycheck.There are alot of considerations here. Was Paul being sarcastic about being a hired minister? Was he trying to make a point to the church of Corinth about serving the Lord without conditions. Regardless, it is clear that some ministers have the right to some funds from the church. However, scripture is clear on who would get it. 1. Elders of the faith. 2.  Unrooted missionaries who travel from one village to the next or from one country to another country over a long period of time.
Truth # 4 The bible does not put more emphasis on a paid minister versus an unpaid. All are equally called.Those terms are Modern society terms.
Truth # 5 Working a secular job as a minister is not sinful or an admittance to a lack of faith.In fact, those who do both have alot of faith considering they are providing for their family and giving out personal funds for the spreading of the Gospel. 
Truth # 6  The local church you are from and/or the church you are ministering to needs to support you financially on their terms and at some level. It is also considered if you fall into those two categories. 
Truth # 7 A worker is worthy of his hirer not by his calling but by his length of service and demonstration of servanthood to God's people. In other words, new christians and young Christians should get a secular job for several seasons until they have proven themselves to the work of Christ.( Get a job!)
Truth # 8 Only certain types of callings need to be supported financially. Elders to the church and missionaries who are traveling consistently. Everyone else should not find it beneath them to get a job.  
Truth # 9 Some areas have the economic strength to support ministers financially and some do not. Paul knew the church of Corinth was better off financially than the church at Philippi. It is the same today. It is easy for an American minister to be hired on than an Indian or Filipino minister. We have to be careful with what doctrine we preach and ensure it is only God's.

Loved ones I hope this encourages you in some way. Your faith is not less if you have to get a secular job to support your family. Nor is your calling decreased in value. You are just as important. A message to those who are young in the faith. Study to show yourselves approved. Humble yourself before the Lord and God's people. If you are fortunate to live in a country to where you can be supported on a monthly basis, then be humbled and submit yourself to wise counsel.