Tag: the church

A messy, but true, test of maturity.

It was quite a day. Cold and rainy outside meant the family would be stuck inside for the whole day with nothing to do.

Close quarters is fine if you’ve got some sort of entertainment to help pass the time. Unless, of course, you’re so bored nothing sounds like fun.

So there we were, all six of us sitting around the living room, waiting for the weather to change so life could begin again.

An all too familiar smell suddenly filled the room, stinging our eyes and noses with a terribly foul and rancid odor.

We were no longer bored. We now had something to get our minds off the rain.

“BJ! Did you mess your pants, or are you just trying to kill us?” The family spokesperson loves to get to the bottom of things.

“Why couldn’t you at least have given us some kind of warning? Like maybe saying, ‘I’m going to die now'”?

I, too, felt like chiming in but didn’t, for two reasons. One, I was too busy holding my nose and mouth shut, and, two, BJ was the baby of the family.

He was only 1 year old. And yes, he had messed his pants.

Thinking of this little scenario reminds me of how we in the church can be toward our brother or sister in Christ who has difficulties with life and can’t seem to go very long without messing all over themselves.

We like to consider ourselves as the mature ones who can “rightly divide the word of truth”.

But a true test of maturity is how we handle messy situations. Do we ignore our brother or sister, make fun of them, push them down with our words, or do we get our hands dirty helping them get cleaned up?

We want to see people born again, which means they become baby Christians. But then all too often, we expect them to be full grown the next time we see them at church.

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

If there are to be babies in the family, we probably should expect the room to smell at times. Let’s not be put out because our day was ruined, but rather let’s find a way to help them out of the mess they find themselves in.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1 ESV)

Is there witchcraft in the Church? (part two)


Really.

Throughout the New Testament we are taught the reality of the spirit realm, the power of the Name of Jesus, the miracle working power of the Spirit, and the need for the Body of Christ to know the difference between true and false manifestations.

But witchcraft in the Church? That should be easy to detect, don’t you think?

Yeah, you’d think so. 

But not if you’re unaware of how it’s manifested.

Witchcraft is listed in Galatians 5 with a long list of “now the works of the flesh are…” It’s translated from the Greek word, “pharmakeia” which means to administer medication, magic, and sorcery. It refers to manipulation and deception, in connection with idolatry; the worship of man or things.

Witchcraft camouflages, or conceals, hides, the spirit behind the manifestation’s true identity. In other words, it medicates people so they can’t discern truth from error.

We understand how people, not walking in the Spirit, can yield to such things as sexual immorality, envy, even murder; things listed as the works of the flesh.

But we somehow skip over the notion that witchcraft is among those “works” listed.

The man or woman “performing” can become so dependent upon the performance (because they have a reputation as a prophet or miracle worker), they become the focus of trust, adoration and worship.

Which, of course, is exactly what the devil is after. 

And if and when their performance begins to weaken, i.e. the excitement wanes, the temptation to “help God” can become too great to resist.

Yielding to temptation always results in walking according to the flesh. Which could include witchcraft.

Philip performed many miracles. So did Peter and John. But they never seemed to be enamored by them.

In awe, yes. Enamored, no.

Luke wrote of God working special, unusual, extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, “so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11,12 ESV).

Not only were miracles wrought, but they were extraordinary miracles! 

But Paul didn’t act as though the miracles depended entirely on him.

In Acts 28, while shipwrecked on an island, God used Paul to bring healing to many.

“Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.” (Acts 28:7 – 28:9 ESV)

But Paul always remembered Who the miracle worker was.

He told of a time to come when people would give heed to seducing spirits, doctrines of demons, and lying wonders (1 Timothy 4).

A time much like today.

I’ve noticed something happening in the Church over the last, say, twenty to thirty years; even in “Pentecostal” churches.

There’s a separation, a dividing taking place. Three groups are emerging: those who have moved away from allowing (or seeking) any “manifestation” of the Spirit in their worship service, those who allow anything and everything (as long as it’s God – their words, not mine), and those who attempt to follow Paul’s admonition: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19 – 5:22 ESV).

The first group can end up missing out on what God wants to do or say because of their rigidity and misunderstanding of the Word.

The third group is one I believe the Lord wants each of His local churches to be like.

The second group, the subject of this series, can open the door to much confusion and guile within a local church.

To be continued…

Will Leave You Speechless 

  
Don’t you just love Facebook? 

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen posts that go something like this: “This man was captured on video, singing in a grocery store. His voice kept getting louder and louder, but what he did next will leave you speechless!”

Look familiar? There are hundreds of posts like that one, from someone filling their car with gas, to a couple of young folks talking with a homeless man down by the river. Each little opening paragraph ends with “what they did next will leave you speechless.

So far, I haven’t lost my ability, or desire, to speak. I admit there are some pretty cool things to behold, but speechless? 

If everything is awesome, or will leave you and I speechless, won’t everything be just so-so? If everything is great, nothing is great. Am I making any sense?

If all things are equal, how can anything be outstanding?

Sorry, but I guess I just can’t buy the “speechless” hype. 

However, there’s coming a day, soon I believe, when a certain, long awaited event will happen. I guarantee what happens next will leave everyone speechless!

What “long awaited event” am I talking about? 

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NLT)

The great catching away of the true believers in Jesus! One moment on earth, the next… well, there’s a reason why it’s referred to as The Blessed Hope.

“…waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:13 ESV)

Just image what the Facebook post would say. “This man was walking down the potato chip aisle, humming to himself. What happened next will leave you speechless.”

Now you see him, now you don’t. Both the man who was caught away, and the person recording the scene, will undoubtedly be speechless. 

I’m hoping for two things when that time comes.

One, someone will have a camera on me, getting it all on video. 

Two, you aren’t the one posting it on Facebook. 

What Happened To Holiness?


Way back in the first century, even when the Church was Spirit-led and full of the power of God, Jude wrote a letter to his friends. A letter that was not only timely for them, but for us as well. Here’s a small portion.

“Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:3-4 NLT) 

I sincerely believe Jude’s letter, though only 25 verses long, is THE most important letter for our day and age. I suggest you read the whole letter, and read it often, to see for yourself.

He began his letter saying he had planned on writing something different, a word that was possibly a little more easy for his readers to enjoy. People haven’t changed much over the last 2,000 years. The majority of people would rather hear “All you need is love…”, than “Is your all on the altar?”

Yes, we need love. But we need it as God has defined AND demonstrated it.

Jude said, “…urging you to defend the faith that GOD has entrusted once for all time to HIS HOLY PEOPLE…” Just who are His Holy People? Those who have named the Name of Jesus. Those who are born again, who’ve received Jesus Christ as the LORD of their lives.

Notice: “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:1-2 ESV)

“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7 ESV)

“Called to be saints (or holy people)”. Simply meaning, “set apart BY God”, “set apart UNTO God”, and “set apart FOR God.” Set apart means “sanctified”. So, saints are, in God’s mind, set apart. Sanctified.

Paul even wrote to the carnal church of Corinth, “called to be saints…” Doesn’t that seem incredible? But that’s how God sees His people. We are set apart by Him, to Him, and for Him.

Peter said, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

Can you get at least a glimpse of what we, as Christians, are called to be and do? Jude knew these things, and was compelled by the Holy Spirit to urge us to DEFEND the faith that was entrusted to us. Defend what we believe.

If we don’t defend it, who will? 

People say, “My faith, what I believe, is too personal to talk about.” Really? Why? If it’s good enough for you to believe, why not pass it on? Or do you really believe?

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not only a personal thing, it is something that DEMANDS to be shared. God Himself could have kept it all to Himself, but He loved us too much to keep it “personal”. The Son didn’t become flesh for His own glory. He LEFT glory to become like us, FOR us. He didn’t let the “personal” aspect of faith keep him from demonstrating His love for mankind.

People of faith, people who have believed and embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, have the responsibility to contend, struggle for, wrestle for, i.e. defend the truth. Speak up for it, declare to their generation the truth OF God, as well as the truth ABOUT God.

Why? Because “some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.” 

Yes, it’s true. You don’t need to look very far to see the very things Jude was writing about. Compromise, as well as an outright denial of certain things “written by holy men of old who were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

What’s happened to holiness? Why is there so much immorality in our society, and even in the church? And why do so many “people of faith” get rankled when someone innocently points to a certain behavior and calls it sin? What’s happened?

I’ll tell you what’s happened. We have come to care more about what WE believe than what God thinks. We’ve allowed voices that speak contrary to God’s Word to be heard and believed. We have NOT defended THE FAITH (God’s version, not man’s) that God gave to us.

WE have allowed immortality to invade our society by allowing ourselves to be suckered in to believing the same thing. We’ve believed the words of ungodly preachers, because we didn’t take the trouble and research the Word to see if what we were hearing was really true.

Ungodly preachers? According to Jude, people who teach that immorality is okay, that “God’s grace allows it…” are ungodly. 

Yes, WE have let the world’s belief system infect our faith. Instead of the other way around.

And it’s time to change. But it won’t be easy.

People don’t like to be told they’re wrong. Remember the feeling? People can’t stand to hear about absolute truth. And the phrase, “there’s a Heaven to gain, and a Hell to shun” is, to many, as outdated as the old Model T.

Jude summarizes his letter with a reminder and some spiritual, yet practical, advice.

“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’ It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 1:17-23 ESV)

In other words, stand up for the faith, even though there will be scoffers. Build yourselves up, praying in the Holy Spirit, so you’ll be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Be ready, in season and out; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching (2 Timothy 4:2).

Holiness, walking with God in a way that pleases Him, IS appropriate for you and I as believers. 

And yes, even in this ungodly society.

Are We Hypocrites?

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I’ve heard it said throughout my life, “Christians are hypocrites.” “I’m not going to visit THAT church because they’re a bunch of hypocrites.”

Merriam-Webster’s definition of hypocrite: “a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.”

Of course we’ll deny the charge, usually with a pithy retort such as, “Why not join us? There’s plenty of room for one more.”

Yeah, that goes over real well.

Other times we use a different strategy to legitimize a Christian’s shortcomings, evidenced best with the quote from a popular bumper sticker, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”

But let’s think about the hypocrisy charge.

Could there be, IS THERE, any truth to the accusation?

Let’s examine the typical Christian beliefs/actions as viewed on Facebook. It will help greatly if we look at the evidence through the eyes of someone who may not have the same beliefs as you and I.

Since Christians, followers of Christ, claim to believe the Bible, let’s see how our posts on Facebook compare with our stated beliefs.

1. Posts/comments which bash the President of the United States of America. 

“Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king (president).” (1 Peter 2:17 NLT)

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” (Romans 13:1 NLT)

2. Posts/comments that are mean-spirited and malicious.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31 – 4:32 NLT)

3. Posts/comments laced with profanity and sexual innuendos.

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29 NLT)

“Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes – these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.” (Ephesians 5:3-4 NLT)

4. Posts/comments depicting God as intolerant and vengeful as themselves.

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:9 NLT)

“A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” (2 Timothy 2:24 NLT)

5. Posts/comments insinuating that all Republicans are saints, and all Democrats are satanists.

“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” (Romans 3:22 NLT)

6. Posts/comments that speak of protecting and favoring one race/ethnicity over another.

“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.” (Ephesians 4:3-6 NLT)

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28 ESV)

7. Posts/comments which tend to lead others away from the eternal message of the Cross.

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV)

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.'” (Romans 10:13-15 ESV)

8. Posts/comments indicating God packs a pistol and keeps an AR-15 in His pickup.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.'” (Matthew 26:52 ESV)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Romans 8:35 ESV)

9. Posts/comments ridiculing others for their stupidity in not believing like them.

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:1-4 ESV)

“With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3:9-10 ESV)

10. Posts/comments proving to every other reader they don’t really believe what they claim to believe.
Allow this old saying to suffice: “Your talk talks, and your walk talks; but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”

So how about the claim?

Are we hypocrites? Am I? Are you?

Well…?

Loose in the Church

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Years ago, while attending a Full Gospel Business Men’s luncheon, I was asked about the church I pastored.

“I’m an Assemblies of God pastor”, I replied.

“We attend a WORD church”, they informed me.

That phrase has stuck with me for over twenty five years.

Back then, some sectors of the Body of Christ acted as though they owned the market’s share of God’s Word. Like, if you didn’t go to a WORD church, you just weren’t Christian. Well, you might be a Christian, but you weren’t one of God’s favored ones.

There are still some who act that way, but there’s a different emphasis now.

The word now is PROPHETIC (of course, I could be wrong; it may have changed again).

Are YOU prophetic? A guy said to me one time, not that long ago, “I didn’t know you were prophetic!” Wow!

I remember thinking at the time, “I didn’t know I wasn’t.”

Back in the WORD days, people listened a lot to Hagin, Copeland, Capps, Savelle, Hickey, and others. I did, too. They were known as WORD preachers. They had their own followers; groupies. Though I denied it, looking back, that’s exactly what I was. And proud of it.

“Brother Copeland said…”

“Brother Hagin said…”

“Sister Prophesies Longandloud said…”

And when I could quote them, man did I feel big and important.

I don’t believe it’s what the ministers wanted, but Christians can be really weird at times.

People, myself included, have a tendency to use their affiliation to make themselves look and feel more important than they really are.

Now days there is a different group of people to follow: Johnson, Vallatron, and anyone associated with Bethel Church in Redding, California.

Or, Bethel Music (which, by the way, I do enjoy).

Also, there’s IHOP, Hinn, and hundreds of prophetic ministries serving up a prophetic word to their subscribers.

For a while it was Brownsville and Toronto. Other times it’s been whatever church was promoted on TBN.

So what’s wrong with that?

Let’s Vote On It!

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Let’s vote on it!

Those 4 little words carry a lot of weight with the American people. Whether it pertains to the national presidential election every 4 years, a local school board election, who should be the next winner of American Idol, or trying to decide which restaurant has the best breaded tenderloin sandwich in the city, voting means a lot!

The old saying, “the majority rules”, is true. The majority rule definition, from the Free Dictionary, is “a doctrine by which a numerical majority of an organized group holds the power to make decisions binding on all in the group.” The majority makes the decisions, the majority rules.

But the majority is seldom right.

At least according to biblical examples:

Adam and Eve – The wrong tree looked like the right tree, but only to the majority.

Tower of Babel – God said, “Scatter”, but the people disagreed; God was wrong and didn’t know their needs.

Sodom and Gomorrah – The angels were, oh! so mean; what right did God have to intervene?

The Golden Calf – It wasn’t Aaron’s fault the calf was made, the people cast their vote; he just obeyed.

The 12 Spies – 2 said, “let’s go!” 10 cried, “Oh, no!” 83% ran the show.

Israel wanted a king – They had to be like all the rest; not realizing, God knew best.

People complain about not having any say in what happens at their church. Now they may not have a position of authority such as an elder might have, but EVERYONE has a say, a voice. It’s called prayer.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:1-5 NLT)

People who DEMAND to be heard typically are people who really should be ignored. But people who take their petitions to God, are the ones God anoints and uses to bring about His plans and purposes.

Most people in any given congregation know as much or more than the pastor. But their knowledge, experience, and voting power does not negate or supersede God’s calling.

American Christians seem to believe the Kingdom of God operates like a democracy. But it’s not a democracy, it is a theocracy. God ruled, God governed. He does have people called and equipped to lead as Moses led Israel, but God is still the leader.

“And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly – not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble (1 Peter 5:1-5 NLT)

For the last couple hundred years, or so, pastors have been “called” and “chosen” by a majority vote. It’s just the way church is done. Right or wrong, it is what it is. Typically the preacher submits a resume to the church’s pulpit committee, the committee picks out a few candidates to look at more closely, interviews are scheduled, and the candidate that outshines them all is given an opportunity to meet the congregation, and vice versa. Then, the candidate gets to show how well they can preach their favorite and best sermon. Following the oral exam, the congregation is allowed to vote on whether the candidate is the pastor they want.

The majority rules. They may be off by a hundred miles, but the majority has their way. The candidate may be looking for a job, a paycheck, or to prepare for retirement rather than following a direct leading from God. The pulpit committee may have their eyes on natural things, such as Samuel when he first saw David’s oldest brother. Or, the congregation may be tired of the process and want someone who will fill the chair, regardless.

And we wonder why a lot of churches struggle and end up closing.

People who’ve been part of a thriving congregation for years will leave because they don’t like the new candidate. Folks will squabble about one thing after the next, if they don’t get to help make decisions. And regardless of whether voting is the best thing for the church, people must be kept happy; or they’ll take their tithes and offerings and find another church to “bless.”

I suppose there are some things a church could vote on; like the color of paint to use in the church kitchen, or what kind of meat to have at the annual church fund raiser.

But The Lord has a better way for His church to function. Find out through prayer and fellowship with God just exactly what He wants, and then obey Him.

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements.” (Acts 15:28 NLT)

“Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.” (Acts 13:1-3 NLT)

Voting for a leader did happen once in the New Testament. They drew straws, rolled dice, pitched pennies; something to indicate which one of the two candidates would fill the open chair left by Judas Iscariot. This was shortly before the Day of Pentecost, when God would pour out His Holy Spirit upon them. The same Holy Spirit Who would lead them in their daily affairs, guide them into all truth, and empower them to change their world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

One time.

Maybe I’m too much of a dreamer to think we could ever make it back to doing things God’s way.

What do you think?

Wanna vote on it?

The Church – God’s Ark For The World

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In Noah’s day, mankind had repeatedly violated and shunned God’s plan for man. The Lord decided there had to be a change; He could no longer allow such wickedness to continue in the earth. If there was to be the fulfilling of Genesis 3:15, God would have to intervene to protect the future promise. He would need to find someone He could trust to follow His plan explicitly, prepare His provision for His Creation, and thus keep intact His word regarding the Coming Redeemer.

He found Noah. As He discussed His plan with Noah, He said…

“Build…

…A place large and abundant; a place filled with the fragrance and personality of its Creator. One so large it demands attention and can’t be ignored, yet so precise in detail no one would dare suspect the building “just happened”. Large enough to fulfill the Maker’s purpose; a place where ALL are kept alive, ALL experience the provision that was prepared for them long before their need ever was known. a place ALL are welcomed, ALL are given a purpose in life, ALL are released with blessing to be fruitful.

…A place with lots of rooms; rooms that reveal the manifold wisdom of its Designer. Rooms that speak of the many-sided, multi-faceted grace, mercy, and mission of the Architect. Each room is to be designed to allow for specialized, individual care and nurturing. Expect varying degrees of serving to take place in each of the rooms.

…A place to weather the storms of life, and safely deliver all its occupants to their destiny. One rising above the influence of the world, all the while proclaiming and demonstrating the Designers purpose, love and accountability to all mankind.

…A place with a window, a view of the world; a view where each one can see beyond their own need, their own world, and see the needs of others. A window allowing not just a view of the world, but communication with God and the understanding of His will and direction.

…A place with only one door; one “way” to get in. One large enough to let “whosoever will” enter, yet “small”, or “narrow” enough to guarantee all who enter have chosen to do so.

…A place with multiple levels. A building allowing you to increase in understanding, maturity, revelation, anointing.

…A place unlike any other.

…A place designed in Heaven before the foundation of the world.

…A place unmoved by critics, but moved with the wind of Heaven.

…A place stronger than the mightiest, but weaker than the weakest.

…A place totally dependent upon God.

…A place big enough where God can set up shop.

…A place where Life is nurtured, and multiplied to fulfill the Will of God.”

Noah did, God did, and the world kept spinning. Time passed, Jesus the Redeemer came and fulfilled God’s Genesis promise.

Jesus had a word for Peter in Matthew 16:18. He said, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build…

…A place large and abundant; a place filled with the fragrance and personality of its Creator. One so large it demands attention and can’t be ignored, yet so precise in detail no one would dare suspect the building “just happened”. Large enough to fulfill the Maker’s purpose; a place where ALL are kept alive, ALL experience the provision that was prepared for them long before their need ever was known. a place ALL are welcomed, ALL are given a purpose in life, ALL are released with blessing to be fruitful.

…A place with lots of rooms; rooms that reveal the manifold wisdom of its Designer. Rooms that speak of the many-sided, multi-faceted grace, mercy, and mission of the Architect. Each room is to be designed to allow for specialized, individual care and nurturing. Expect varying degrees of serving to take place in each of the rooms.

…A place to weather the storms of life, and safely deliver all its occupants to their destiny. One rising above the influence of the world, all the while proclaiming and demonstrating the Designers purpose, love and accountability to all mankind.

…A place with a window, a view of the world; a view where each one can see beyond their own need, their own world, and see the needs of others. A window allowing not just a view of the world, but communication with God and the understanding of His will and direction.

…A place with only one door; one “way” to get in. One large enough to let “whosoever will” enter, yet “small”, or “narrow” enough to guarantee all who enter have chosen to do so.

…A place with multiple levels. A building allowing you to increase in understanding, maturity, revelation, anointing.

…A place unlike any other.

…A place designed in Heaven before the foundation of the world.

…A place unmoved by critics, but moved with the wind of Heaven.

…A place stronger than the mightiest, but weaker than the weakest.

…A place totally dependent upon God.

…A place big enough where God can set up shop.

…A place where Life is nurtured, and multiplied to fulfill the Will of God…

Build My Church.”

Biblical, Spiritual Elders

Elders

Biblical, Spiritual Elders

“Doing” church these days can be kind of confusing. Trying to understand terminologies, such as bishop, deacon, head deacon, minister, pastor, elder, and so on can really be overwhelming. Discussing such a topic as Kingdom Leadership can be as challenging as discussing the Holy Spirit’s ministry in a cross-denominational discussion forum. Wide variety of opinions, interpretation of scripture, and personal feelings sometimes find their way into the discussion.

Understanding that dynamic, let me say up front that, though I hold my opinions expressed in this article to be true, I do not, for a minute, believe I have full and complete revelation on the matter. I simply want to share truth as I see it, submit it to other Kingdom Leaders for review and dialog, and continue to grow in Kingdom Leadership effectiveness. And I wouldn’t be surprised to have people write and tell me I need to get a life, or something.

I do not want to “split hairs” with this subject. The Kingdom of God is not in word only, but in power. It’s not what we call ourselves that really matters. Yet we need to understand how Kingdom leadership works, how we submit to it and function in it.

Biblical, spiritual elders. Paul said, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:27 -28 NKJV) Overseers – elders. The term, Elder, is not just a New Testament term. It was used a lot in the Old Testament when referring to the leaders under Moses, those Joshua appointed, as well as other men and women of God.

Basically, a biblical, spiritual elder is someone ordained and anointed by God, and recognized by other leaders, to help equip, exhort, and encourage the Church. Theirs may not be a widely known ministry , or, they MAY be well known throughout the Body of Christ. They link with others, either on a local scale, such as a local fellowship of believers, or on a much broader scale, such as city-wide, regional, national or even global scale. Point is, they link together for the purpose of governing and directing the Church to enable it to fulfill its divine destiny. Whether their ministry is “small” or “large”, it is indispensible.

An elder can operate as an Apostle, Prophet, or any of the “5-fold” ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. However, in my opinion, they don’t have to be defined or confined by one of the 5 mentioned, to be an elder. They may preach, prophesy, pray, teach or lead worship. Or, they may not be used of God for any of those specific purposes. Or, the opposite may be true. True Apostles, Prophets, etc. are elders, but not all elders are apostles. Peter made a statement in 1 Peter 5:1, “now a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder…as a fellow elder I appeal to you.” (NLT)

It was explained to me, when I asked someone why the word “pastor” isn’t used much in the New Testament, that when the church was first formed the Apostles went around to different fellowships and appointed “elders” – those older, more experienced with life and how to deal with it, to help the younger ones. All were young in the faith. So, it was told me, God had a plan to help the Church grow until more people could be trained to lead.I believe most of that line of reasoning. What I’m not sure about is why the Church has, by and large, dropped “elder” from its lexicon. Now there are people in churches who wear the title of “Elder”, but that’s not what I’m referring to. An old mule could be called a kangaroo, but watch it long enough and you’ll know it’s not a kangaroo.

Biblical, spiritual elders, were established by God as far back as Adam. He was to rule, govern, under the authority of God Almighty. Things got messed up, but that didn’t take away Adam’s calling under God. God helped restore him and, I believe, poured into Adam truth that would affect generations to come. Study it out and you’ll find Adam living long enough to pour truth into many generations! When Adam died, though, people fell further and further from the Truth. Noah, Abraham and sons, Moses. These were all biblical, spiritual elders. They would help govern God’s people, and defend God’s righteous cause. They were people others could go to for counsel and support. People anointed and trusted to uphold truth in the spirit of love. The ones God anointed as judges, they also functioned as elders. The children of Israel did well as long as the judges were around, but when they died, each one did what was right in their own sight.

Reheboam, Solomon’s son, was asked a question pertaining to his new role of leader. He consulted his elders for advice. They told him to loosen the fist of leadership from around the people and they would follow him forever. That’s what the elders said. But he didn’t follow their advice. He followed the advice of his peers, his drinking buddies, who told him to tighten his fist around Israel. That advice split the Kingdom.

It’s good to have peers, partners, people who will agree with your every decision. But God has established elders in the Church. They are to help keep the Church from splitting and falling by the wayside. Even the great man of God, Moses, couldn’t fulfill his calling without the help of elders. Think about this. God used someone not “in the church” to help Moses see that truth!

The church has had elders for a long time. So why are there so many issues and divisions in the church today? Could it be that 1) the church hasn’t paid any attention to elders, not knowing those who labor among them, and 2) the church has paid TOO MUCH attention to them, idolizing them to the point of unsure footing? Unsure footing? Standing on man-made “truth” mixed with God’s Word. Shaky ground.

Use a concordance and look at the references for “Elder”. You’ll discover these truths about biblical, spiritual elders:

1. Elders have authority and responsibility to shepherd the church (see Isaiah 40:11)

2. Elders can carry on kingdom work even if the leader is absent

3. Elders are aware of “the times” and act appropriately.

4. Elders will follow the lead of spiritual authority, obey the placement (around the tabernacle), and receive the same spirit as their leader.

5. Elders witness transactions / deals made. They sit at the gate to rule, judge, and determine who enters, who trades and peddles, and see to it that justice and mercy work hand in hand.

6. Elders’ experience, as well as their spiritual insight, help them govern.

7. Elders have a direct bearing on the spiritual condition in the land.

8. Elders identify with the spiritual condition left them by previous generations and seek to rectify or build on the condition.

Whichever term you decide to use when referring to God given, God anointed, spiritual leadership, don’t forget their place in the Body of Christ. Remember James, “anyone sick…let him call for the ELDERS of the church…”? Elders. Might be a pastor, might be a prophet. Might be…but should be an elder.

I believe the Lord is saying He is “raising up people who will function in the Church, and in the world (Moses “communicating” with Pharaoh) as biblical, spiritual elders. Unknown by many, not wearing a particular title or badge, but walking in heaven’s authority. They will function as elder’s of old. Fire will fall from heaven as they speak heaven’s word. Miracles will multiply and Jesus will be magnified. Man’s “High Places” of idol worship will be distinguished between My place of True Worship. ”

“The end is close. The work is great. The Anointing of Jesus more than adequate! Be who you were made to be – recognize your place and others in the Body of Christ – and understand the Body functions as ONE.”

Elders. Not just a name.

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