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How to Know Your Sheep

lamb-toy

Proverbs 27:23-27

King James Version

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

The Message

Know your sheep by name; carefully attend to your flocks; (Don’t take them for granted; possessions don’t last forever, you know.) and then, when the crops are in and the harvest is stored in the barns, you can knit sweaters from lambs’ wool, and sell your goats for a profit; there will be plenty of milk and meat to last your family through the winter.

When a good shepherd cares for his flock, the diligence is repaid.

How to Find God

God encourages open investigation:

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

Jesus Christ provides salvation:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:12

Jesus Christ claims to be the exclusive way to God:

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

If life is a wager, it is better to believe than not:

If God does not exist,
one will lose nothing by believing in him,
while if he does exist,
one will lose everything by not believing.
Blaise Pascal

Ockham’s razor points toward the simple explanation of God as the Source of all things:

Plurality should not be posited without necessity…
No plurality should be assumed unless it can be proved by reason, or
by experience, or by some infallible authority.”
Franciscan monk William of Ockham, THEIST, circ 1285-1349

The Bible is God’s Word and revelation of Himself to us:

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:19-21

The True Living God can be known:

And there you will serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, whic  neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice.
Deuteronomy 4:28-30

God allows us to choose to follow Him:

“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.
1 Chronicles 28:9

Quote from Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs

Stanford University commencement, June 14, 2005:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like:
“If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”
It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself:
“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Selected quotations:

“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.”

“You don’t pause to stomp on the ants when a herd of stampeding elephants is behind you.”

Eagles may soar, free and proud, but weasels never get sucked into jet engines.

Diplomacy is the ability to tell someone to get lost in such a way that they look forward to the trip.

Inside every small problem is a larger problem struggling to get out.

A friend is someone you call to help you move. A best friend is someone you call to help you move a body.

Rev. Mary Ethel Wilson Obituary

Mary Ethel Campbell Wilson
May 5, 1917 – March 26, 2009
Barrington, Rhode Island

Rev. Mary Ethel Wilson

Rev. Mary Ethel (Campbell) Wilson, widow of Rev. William K. Wilson, passed away in Bristol, RI on Thursday, March 26, 2009, following a long period of ill health.

Born May 5, 1917, in Marsboro, Quebec, she was the daughter of Martin J. and Annie Belle (MacKay) Campbell. In 1935, she graduated from Deering High School in Portland, ME and enrolled in The School of the Prophets (now Zion Bible College), in East Providence, RI. She graduated in the spring of 1938 and began teaching the following year, a position she held for 43 years. In 1941, she was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the school and remained an active Board Member and Board Member Emeritus until her death.

Following the death of the school’s founder and principal, Rev. Christine A. Gibson, in 1957, Rev. Wilson became principal, a position she held until 1981. In 1969, she was ordained to the ministry by Dr. Leonard W. Heroo, pastor of Zion Gospel Temple, East Providence, RI.

She traveled extensively, visiting the Holy Land, Europe, the Caribbean Islands, British Guiana, and Africa, and attended three Pentecostal World Conferences.

In 1981, she married the Rev. William K. Wilson. She served as president of Zion Bible Institute for two years, while her husband served as pastor of Zion Gospel Temple. She was actively involved with Zion Bible Institute for more than 65 years and remained a member of Zion Gospel Temple until the end of her life.

In 1993, she authored a book, The Obedience of Faith, which records the story of Rev. Gibson. The motto Rev. Wilson lived by was: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

She was predeceased by her parents; her husband, Rev. William K. Wilson; a brother, M. Lloyd Campbell of New Hampshire; and a stepson, Paul Wilson. Survivors include a stepson, William Wilson of Copperas Cove, TX; three beloved nieces, Cassandra Laleme, Lois Gillingham, and Nila Swenson, all of NH; and many step-nieces, step-nephews, step-grandchildren, and step-great-grandchildren. She also leaves behind thousands of Zion friends the world over.

Calling hours at Zion Gospel Temple, 90 Leonard Ave., East Providence, RI, are as follows: Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 5 to 8 PM; Wednesday, April 1, 9 to 10 AM. The funeral service will be at 10 AM, also at Zion Gospel Temple. Interment will be at Spring Vale Cemetery in Rumford, RI.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Zion Bible College, 320 South Main Street, Haverhill, MA 01835, designated for the Zion Prayer Center. Information and condolences at www.carpenterjenks.com. – See more at: http://www.carpenterjenks.com/obituary/Rev.-Mary-Ethel-Wilson/Barrington-RI/652323

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=35410889

Why Credentials Are Meaningless

Not Everyone is a Professional

My wife takes x-rays. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists have certified and registered her every year since 1980. ARRT says

Certification and registration is the recognition of an individual who satisfies certain standards within a profession. Employers, state licensing agencies, and federal regulators look at the ARRT credential as an indication that a person has met a recognized national standard for medical imaging, interventional procedures, and radiation therapy professionals.

Her credentials do not guarantee that she is a “good” x-ray tech because that is measured by her behavior. We can ask her patients and co-workers if she is good. However, her credentials are necessary for her to be considered a professional in her field. Her good behavior does not negate her need to be credentialed.

I am an ordained minister with the General Council of the Assemblies of God. My credentials do not guarantee that I am a “good” pastor because that is measured by my behavior, by how I practice within my ministry. On the other hand, if I am a good pastor, it does not negate the necessity for me to carry credentials.

Everyone is a Minister

I have been told that papers and titles are meaningless in ministry. Perhaps this negative opinion is based on some positive principles found in the New Testament.

The Church is a priesthood of believers. It says, “…you also, as living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house as a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)

Every Believer is a minister. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been given the responsibility of ministry. “All this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation,” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
The simple act of a financial offering is called ministry. “Meanwhile, through the performance of this ministry, they glorify God for the profession of your faith in the gospel of Christ and for your liberal sharing with them and with all others.” (Second Corinthians 9:13)


Here are some legal issues to consider: housing allowance1 and consecration of marriage.2

1. A church should be prudent about providing a housing allowance to employees that are not duly ordained, licensed, or commissioned ministers, even if that church calls that person “pastor”. The IRS is not likely to consider non-credentialed staff as eligible for a housing allowance (income that is excluded from taxable income). If the church is knowingly providing tax reductions to employees/contractors that are ineligible, this may be an issue that the IRS would consider worth investigating. Proper credentials would clarify much.

2. In Indiana, IC 31-11-6-1, indicates who is authorized to solemnize marriages. The legal code states that, in my case, I must be a member of the clergy of a religious organization. It does not say that I can merely be a verbally-designated pastor with authorized based upon my recognition by my local Christian fellowship. For example, when I was the pastor of an independent church located in Valparaiso, Indiana, the church was legally recognized as a church in the State of Indiana with a Constitution and By-Laws that made a provision for the church to choose and ordain their own ministers. Therefore, the church board and body ordained me for ministry within their body. In my current situation, in order to legally officiate at weddings, I would be required to be credentialed through the General Council of the Assemblies of God by the Indiana District Assemblies of God, the religious organization to which my local church belongs. If I were not credentialed appropriately, I would not solemnize marriages.

How Spontaneous Emotionalism Bestows the Gifts of the Spirit

I thank my God that I speak in tongues more than you all. Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. Brothers, do not be children in your thinking; rather be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
First Corinthians 14:18,19

 Paul did not want people to speak in tongues in the church.

This is because he preferred that people would understand what was being said in the church. He wanted teaching in church so the hearers would grow and become mature Christians. Speaking in tongues does not help the hearers grow spiritually.

However, Paul spoke in tongues …apparently a lot.

So when and where did Paul speak in tongues a lot? Well, Paul says that praying in tongues is praying in the Spirit. Look at the Scripture, Paul prayed in tongues …a lot.

Let him who speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding.
First Corinthians 14:13-15

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27

Pray in the Spirit always with all kinds of prayer and supplication. To that end be alert with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray for me, that the power to speak may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:18-20

But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit.
Jude 1:20

Let’s be like Paul and pray in the Spirit …a lot.

Paul asked people to speak in tongues when they did not need to be the center of attention.

Paul did not indicate that speaking in tongues was less important than some of the other gifts. He did say it was less informative than teaching.

Paul wanted believers to participate in church. He wanted them to be prompted by the Holy Spirit to share their spiritual gifts with everyone.  I feel confident that Paul would not have approved of the spontaneous emotionalism that is practiced in some modern churches.

The gifts of the Spirit are not generated by human emotion.

When I was at Zion Bible Institute, I remember one of the leaders of Tuesday chapel services saying, “We did not prepare anything, so that the Spirit can move.”  This was sometimes followed by students spinning in circles, making shrill bird noises or running violently around the perimeter of the chapel. Based upon this principle of the moving of the Holy Spirit being hindered by preparation, some students wrote a little chorus. “Why study when you can pray? Trust Jesus, you’ll get an A…”

The Tuesday chapel meetings provoked me to look deeper into the Scriptures for an understanding of the “moving of the Spirit” and the Pentecostal experience.

Boom!

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1:8

In this passage, the word for power is dunamis. This is where we get our modern word for dynamite. So the picture of the gifts of the Holy Spirit has been drawn to look like an explosion of a log jam. This is not accurate.

Dunamis is power, strength, might, ability and capability. It is the source of our modern word “dynamic” which indicates a force that results in effective action. The picture in my mind is of someone trudging uphill under the weight of a heavy load. This person will not make it without the strength, capability, force necessary to result in effective action. This is the working of the Holy Spirit that I see in the New Testament. As the burdens of life became unbearable for human strength, the Holy Spirit empowered believers to act effectively.

The power of the Spirit is not for emotional freedom. It is for people to live dynamically within an impossible cultural climate or under normally unbearable factors. The power of the Spirit creates overcomers on Monday through Saturday in homes and workplaces, wherever and whenever He is needed. It seems wasteful to only be filled with the Spirit once a week for an hour while the band is passionately belting out a sentimental song. Okay, that was harsh, but I hope my point is clear anyway.

I don’t need the power of the Holy Spirit so much in church when everyone is happy. I do appreciate that power when I am talking to one of my lost friends or when I am called to visit a terminally ill patient. Boom! Then I feel that supernatural power kick in.

The early Church was not as spontaneous as the modern Church.

Modern Pentecostal churches, in my experience, practice the gifts of the Spirit as spontaneous interruptions of the church meeting. Since the speakers are not prepared, the listeners receive emotion-based, whimsical outbursts that take the place of well-prepared exhortations based upon Scripture.

The pattern of the early Church is seen in the New Testament. Their meetings were not interrupted by emotional outbursts. Paul said to only allow a couple of interruptions in tongues. The Church heard a message of sound teaching. Then they prayed about it. They practiced it. They let the Holy Spirit empower them to live it.

Through the week, as they prayed in the Spirit and meditated on that message of sound teaching, a believer might sense that the Holy Spirit was giving him or her a revelation, a word of wisdom, a prophetic utterance, or an interpretation of tongues. This gift was presented to the church elders who acted as witnesses to confirm whether or not it was indeed from God and should be presented to the Church. They judged it by the word of God. If it was silly, self-exalting, or empty emotionalism, then the gift didn’t make it before the Church.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. If I give all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.

…Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. If anything is revealed to another that sits by, let the first keep silent. For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Paul to the Church at Corinth

…and when you think about the Holy Spirit working through you, don’t be surprised if you have an emotional response.

Who created God?

If God was created, then He is not God.

The eternal God definitively cannot have a beginning. God, a spiritual being, created all material things… all matter, all molecules, all atoms, all things.

If some greater Creative Agent caused God, then that Creative Agent would be God.

“It is reasonable to ask who or what created the universe, but if the answer is God, then the question has merely been deflected to that of who created God. In this view it is accepted that some entity exists that needs no creator, and that entity is called God. This is known as the first-cause argument for the existence of God.” ~Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow in The Grand Design, page 172

Potter
The pot cannot create itself.

Something cannot come from nothing.

Anything that has a beginning must have a cause.

The material universe has a beginning, therefore everything in the material universe must necessarily have a cause.

It is reasonable to ask where the matter in the universe came from because matter had a beginning. The universe came into existence from something. It is reasonable to expect that a non-material agent from outside the material universe should be the cause of the universe. It is not reasonable to expect that the non-material eternally existent Cause from outside the universe should have a beginning like the things that He created.

God is not a created thing. God by definition is an eternal uncreated being without a beginning. God always was and always will be. He did not create Himself. He doesn’t need to come into existence. God exists without any need for a material source.

Therefore, the original question “who created God” turns into nonsense. It is in the same self-contradictory genre as “Can God make a rock so heavy that even He cannot lift it.” God does not perform nonsensically.

In my view, the existence of this limited universe makes no sense without the existence of the immeasurable transcendent Creator of the universe.