Tag: discipleship

Church Of The Goofy Ideas

 Have you ever stopped to think about God laughing?

Here’s one instance: “but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.” (Psalm 37:13 ESV)

I can imagine a few other things which may give God a chuckle.

Like His church.

Those leaders who are so caught up in titles and followings. People who pump up their own heels, and demand honor from their “tribe”. We’re supposed to honor one another, and receive the gifts God gives to His Body. But c’mon! Whatever happened to submitting to one another in the fear of God?

Oh, and what about the saint who has a “word from God” every time they turn around? It’s always at the same time in the church service, and it’s never positive or encouraging. Yes, the scripture does speak of prophesying and such, but it also says, “the one who prophesies speaks to people for their edification, exhortation, and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3). Of course, that wouldn’t be as spectacular or dramatic.

Here’s one you’ll enjoy. The group of people (and there are quite a number) who refuse to tithe or give on a regular basis because they believe the church places too much emphasis on money. I wonder how they’d feel if their employer told them they were going to get a 50% reduction in wages because they think too much about money?

Maybe we all should quit shopping at our favorite store because, in reality, the only thing the store is after is our money.

And what about the ones who handle snakes? Ick!

There are lots of things we do that could make our Father chuckle. I’m sure He gets a charge out of us playing “grownup”. You know what I mean? Like a little kid trying to emulate their father or mother by dressing like them, or walking and talking like them. Trying to wear their parent’s shoes, yet tripping because they’re far too big.

And we act like the Armor of God fits us because WE’RE so big and spiritual! Hah!

Yes, I can see my Father laughing. But He’s also trying to get His message across to every one of His kids.

“It’s time to grow up and get rid of your goofy ideas. It’s time to speak the truth in love, and grow into maturity.”

How will we know when we’ve finally grown up? When we aren’t so easily offended. When we don’t get mad if we don’t get our way. When we can take a back seat to someone else’s advancement, even though we think we deserve the promotion more.

When the Head, Who is Jesus, is able to tell the Body what to do and it does it, EVERY SINGLE TIME.

It’s one thing to see a little child play grownup. It’s really quite cute. But when someone keeps playing, clear into their twenties, thirties and forties, you and I both know there’s a problem.

It’s time to grow up. It’s time to disengage from the Church of the Goofy Ideas and grow up… “in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV).

Church Babysitting?

 

There are tens of thousands of pastors in this great land we call America. Thousands of men and women who desire to feed the flock of God faithfully, and someday hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.”

Pastors, I praise God for your caring and patient heart. You are making a difference in your community, whether you realize it or not. 

You were not called or merely employed by your congregation; you were called of God to your place of ministry. Called by God to feed, guard, tend and carry the flock of God; to help the people of God grow to be mature sons and daughters of God.

Called by the God Who called Abram to the mount with his son, his only son. Called to sacrifice the promised one to the One Who promises. Called by the One Who provides to all who answer the call, and continually listen to His voice.

I honor you, men and women of God. 

May I speak a word of encouragement and exhortation to you, as well?

The word I share is based upon two passages of scripture. One in Acts, and the other from Ephesians.

“Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:14-17 ESV)

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV) 

Philip, the man of God, had gone to Samaria and boldly preached Christ. Multitudes came to Christ, hearing and believing the things spoken by him. And those who received Christ, were baptized as well. So, as Philip cooperated with the Spirit of the Lord, a church was planted in the city of Samaria. 

But did you notice what happened next? When the apostles and leaders in Jerusalem heard of the great things God and Philip were doing, they sent Peter and John for further ministry. Why? One preacher ought to be as good as the next, don’t you think?

It’s not what God thinks. 

The Samaritan congregation needed more than what one man or woman could give them. Even Philip, a man who could, with the anointing of God, work miracles among them, was limited. 

You know what? It’s how God planned it. 

Peter and John didn’t come to take over. They came to come alongside the leadership and HELP. They came to fill the pulpit. 

Paul wrote, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you” (Romans 1:11 ESV). Paul wasn’t wanting to boot the Roman pastors out of leadership; he was wanting to fill the pulpit. 

To me, filling the pulpit isn’t a spiritual babysitting job. It isn’t a lesser job, or a part-time gig. It is joining with the Lord Jesus Who said, “I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

Filling the pulpit, preaching, ministering, leading a “service”, or anything else you’d like to call it carries with it huge responsibility. The responsibility to rightfully divide the word of truth, to tenderly and graciously care for the flock, and, if necessary, use the sword against attacking wolves. 

Filling the pulpit is listening to God, and honoring the trust given by the inviting pastor.

It is MUCH MORE than church babysitting.

Many churches have quit scheduling guest preachers, pulpit fillers, evangelists, etc. Though they have a perfectly logical reason why they no longer have guests, such as money, time, don’t know anyone, been burnt in the past…that still doesn’t override the passage in Ephesians. 

I remember, many years ago scheduling a pastor to preach a Sunday morning and night at our first church. Same denomination as ours, I had met him a couple months earlier and was impressed with the way he carried himself. 

So he came, he preached, he ministered, and I was shell shocked. I was a fairly new pastor, and he was extremely intimidating. Some of the things he preached, and the way he “ministered to people” (hitting them in the stomach – thought he was Smith Wigglesworth): I SHOULD HAVE stopped the meetings and sent him packing. 

But I didn’t. In fact, I let him preach in the evening, too. What a mess! But I was too intimidated to drive him away. I wasn’t guarding the flock.

After he left, I spent the next month teaching what the Bible said, trying to undo his goofiness. 

I never invited him back. 

But I didn’t quit having people in to minister. 

I realize the word tells the under-shepherds, “Feed the flock of God which is among you…”. As a parent, I had the responsibility to feed my son. And I did, though sometimes we went to a restaurant where someone else did the cooking, or we were invited to someone else’s house. Either way, he was fed because I was faithful to my responsibility. 

As I said, there seems to be a trend developing; a trend where the pastor tries to give the flock everything they need. However, it just isn’t possible. The Lord isn’t building His church in such fashion.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” 

Until we ALL ATTAIN to the unity of the faith AND until we grow up into the exact image of Jesus Christ.

There’s still some work that needs to be done, at least in most congregations.

Thanks again, pastors, for the dedication and love you have for the Lord and His work.

And for faithfully filling the pulpit, as the Lord instructs.

Sloppy Joe Christians

IMG_7473.JPGI just love Sloppy Joes. Do you?

There are a number of ways to make them. Here’s just one that I found on the Internet.

Take a couple pounds of 93% lean hamburger, and mix in some onion, catsup, brown sugar, garlic, green pepper, salt, ground black pepper, mustard, and (if you really want to make it interesting) a partridge in a pear tree.

Just kidding on the last part.

For the specifics, you can click on this link – http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/24264/sloppy-joes-ii/

Yes indeed. I love Sloppy Joes.

Maybe I should put it a different way. I like what I call Sloppy Joes.

I may not like what YOU refer to as Sloppy Joe’s. It depends on what you put in them.

Or, the amount of mustard you squirt into the mix. Mustard. Yuck and gag!

By now you’re probably wondering what the title, Sloppy Joe Christians, has to do with anything you’d slap between two slices of bread. Right?

Just this. When you or someone you know is preparing something to eat, something such as Sloppy Joes, following the recipe is somewhat essential, but not entirely.

What do I mean?

Recipes can be altered to one’s preferred taste. More salt, less brown sugar, leave the mustard out (my preference); there are probably hundreds of variations possible just by simply making it to suit one’s particular taste buds.

And yet the sandwich is still called a Sloppy Joe.

So what’s a Sloppy Joe Christian?

It’s someone who takes the main ingredients and alters them to suit their particular taste. 

However, I don’t believe God’s Word was ever designed to be treated as just an old recipe book.

He said what He meant, and meant what He said.

Sin is evil. Evil is sin.

Disciples of Jesus walk, talk, and believe like Jesus; at least they’re trying to, with God’s help.

God’s grace was never intended to be a license to live any old way we choose without repercussions. It was never meant to be like some herbicide that eradicates the tares we sow into our lives.

Yes, His mercy endures forever, but so does His word. Jesus said:

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35 ESV)

The Apostle Paul wrote:

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8 ESV)

Of course, everyone has the right to believe anything they want. No argument there.

But when it comes right down to it, there’s only one way to walk with God.

His way. 

Read the Bible. All of it. You’ll discover He’s very clear about what we should believe, and what we shouldn’t.

Like I said, if you’re making a sandwich, then make one YOU’LL enjoy eating.

But if you’re going to call yourself a Christian, please stick to God’s word.

That’s one thing that’s not been left up to our discretion, preference, or “spiritual taste buds”.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV)

Let The Change Begin

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“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.” (1 John 3:2 NLT)

A future hope? You bet!

But so much more.

It’s the promise of change; from an unregenerate, selfish human being into a brand new, born again Christ follower. A partaker of God’s nature, an imitator of Jesus’ ways, and one who is growing to look exactly like Christ.

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT)

But what did John mean, “We shall see him as he really is”?

How do we REALLY get to know another person? It doesn’t take much effort to know someone casually. But knowing them intimately, even to the point of imitating their speech and manners; well, that calls for a lot of personal study and communion.

We may not be able to explain to anyone, including ourselves, just what God is doing in our life. And we may not comprehend the length, breadth, height, or depth of what Jesus is transforming us into. But we can know at least one thing for sure; he is transforming us into the very image of the Father. For “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”

Yes, we’re going to really be dressed up one of these days, when we take off this old earth suit, and put on our new, heavenly suit.

But let’s allow the change to begin now! Let’s spend our lives looking at Jesus. Following him through the gospels, watching him work, hearing him teach, and experiencing the power of his Spirit as he draws us into each and every story.

This is how we begin to “see him as he is.” It’s how to “share his divine nature”, and be formed into his image.

It’s not a promise for an elite chosen few; no, it’s a promise for all who will look “unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”

We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

It is Heaven for sure!

So let the change begin.

Boot Camp

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My book, Boot Camp, is in the final stages of production. Here is a sneak preview, the preface to Boot Camp, Basic Training For The Believer.

“Your basic combat training is designed to accomplish two purposes: familiarize you with the fundamental requirements of military life, and teach you how to fight and defeat an enemy.” (Department of the Army Pamphlet, PAM 350-43, The Soldier’s Basic Combat Training Handbook, March 1973, pg.7)

I had my Basic Combat Training (BCT) at Fort Knox, Kentucky. As soon as I got off the bus I knew I wasn’t a civilian any longer. Sure, I still looked like one but the Drill Instructors (DIs) wasted no time in making their objective clear. They were to receive us as recruits, tear us down to practically nothing, and rebuild us into disciplined, motivated, highly trained, well indoctrinated fighting machines.

I hadn’t been at the reception station more than five minutes before the DI’s were telling me where and how to stand. Imagine. I had been standing for more than 20 years and now someone saw the need to teach me the correct way. Later that day, I would be sent to the barber shop along with the rest of my platoon. Afterward, it would be real hard to tell each other apart. The DIs would have us standing, walking, talking, thinking, looking, and acting alike; as one unit, combat ready. I guess that’s why we had to have name tags on our uniforms and dog tags around our necks.

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