Category Archives: Ministry

What is the ultimate mission of the Church?

Recently, I was in a training in which Scripture was cited and then this question was asked. The Scripture was from Revelation chapter 7.

9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying,
“Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

The group concluded, based upon the great multitude falling on their faces and worshiping God, that the ultimate purpose of the church is to worship God and make worshipers of God.

While the worship of God is an important activity of the holy Church, this passage does not point to that conclusion. In fact, the group that falls on their faces before the throne to worship God are angels, not the Church, not the great multitude.

Someone could comment that “angel” means “messenger,” so these are the messengers of the Church, whether that is apostles, prophets, evangelists, or pastors, etc. However, that definition would require us to deconstruct the meaning of the words in this passage. Revelation clearly states that the supernatural beings here are the angels from Revelation 5:11 and not the Church.

If we want to know the function and purpose of the innumerable multitude, we need to pay attention to their description. They are a mixed group from every ethnos and phule and laos, every nation and tribe/clan and people/race/language. They are standing before the throne and Jesus the Lamb. They are clothed in white stoles. They are holding palm branches.

Furthermore, there is an explanation in verses in verses 14-17.

14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 16 “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

  • They came out of the Great Tribulation.
  • They have been whitened by the blood of Jesus the Lamb.
  • They work in God’s temple.
  • They dwell in God’s tent.
  • They do not hunger or thirst or overheat in the sun.
  • Jesus the Lamb shepherds and guides them.
  • God wipes their weeping eyes.

The first few items are meaningful to our question. They are a description of the condition of the saints. The remaining items are descriptions of the benefits of living in the eternal home of our heavenly Father.

If we choose Revelation 7 to understand the eternal or ultimate purpose of God’s people, based upon the description of these Tribulation Saints, we would need to focus on the most important functions in this list of descriptions.

  1. The Church needs to be cleansed by Jesus’ blood. No one gets to heaven any other way. Not even the blood of the martyrs can gain them entrance without the blood of the Lamb.
  2. The Church needs to be victorious over sin. The blood of Jesus makes us holy. God’s Holy Spirit is working to make God’s people holy by conforming them to the image of Christ. The palm branches are symbols of victory. In this case, victory over sin and death.

Based upon Revelation chapter seven, my conclusion is that the purpose of the Church is to be transformed into the holy image of Jesus Christ.

How to Cope With the Impending Loss of Your Job

Death is Not the Only Source of Grief

The loss of a loved one is the most intense grief that a person can experience. However, there are other losses in life that also produce grief.

For example, if you know someone that has health problems and can no longer care for himself, you know that loss of independence is extremely difficult and stressful.

Loss of your job creates real grief.

Surprise! Grief Happens As Soon As You Know

Grief begins when you learn of an impending loss. Some people call it anticipatory grief or preparatory grief. It is the same as grief that occurs when a loss is actual. Some people are surprised by the emotional aspect of this time of grieving, because they thought it wouldn’t hit them until after the loss.

Loss of Identity Precedes Loss of Income

What kind of worker doesn’t personally invest himself into his work activity, doesn’t take pride in what he does? A bad worker.

Humans identify with activity. Therefore, even before you experience the loss of income, when you are told that you won’t be doing your job anymore, expect to feel some self-questioning. “If I’m not a (previous job assignment), then what am I? ”

The level of emotional investment varies with the depth to which you perceive your work. Factor in the amount of time spent developing your career, the amount of education required, the amount of personal resources you have used.

  • “My job is merely a mundane task. I don’t care.” You may not have much grief.
  • “My work is my career. I have worked hard to get where I am.” You should expect a great deal of grief.
  • “My work is a special calling. I have sacrificed everything to answer that call.” Massive loss invites massive grief.

When a supervisor decides that your services are no longer necessary, you are being told that your work was unimportant. You are being rejected. No wonder you feel anxious. Your professional life has a great impact on your personal life, no matter how much you try to separate them.

An important aspect of your job is working as a team member. Some teams act as families to each other providing emotional support that is vital to your well-being. It can be devastating to lose those relationships.

A career change is a change in your daily routine. Our small daily routines create a larger stability and steadfastness in our lives. Routines relieve stress. Change produces stress.

Along with anxiety, stress and grief produce a lot of emotions: shock, anger, guilt, blaming, denial, profound sadness. If you allow it, grief from job loss can damage your personal and family relationships. Grief can damage your ability to move forward and find a new job.

Coping with Anxiety and Stress

  1. Don’t react immediately to the negative emotions of grief. You may burn some bridges that you will need in the future. Try to leave on the best terms possible. Take the high road, no matter what road others take. The period of intensity of grief will pass, so don’t stay there. Move forward with dignity.
  2. Focus on building positive relationships at home. Your spouse is your greatest resource in coping well during grief. Research has shown that a kiss a day produces chemical changes in your body and lowers the effects of stress. Bring as much sunshine into the room as possible.
  3. Ask a trusted friend to come alongside you and assess your feelings of rejection. A good friend or even a professional can give you a more objective opinion. Identify one flaw that you can change to improve. Identify issues that were exaggerated, blown out of proportion, that were used to manipulate you into feeling that the severance was all your fault. Identify issues that were completely fabricated against you. Decide to deal with the real problems, minimize the exaggerated ones, and ignore the lies.
  4. Update your resume and create a list of your marketable skills. Get really creative as you assess your skills. Include your abilities to perceive situations, cope with changes, set goals and implement improvements in the workplace. Include personality traits that would make you a desired team member. As you look over this list, imagine a job that fulfills your talents more than a job that merely pays the bills.
  5. Keep your eyes open to identify resources that bring stability into your life. Create a new daily routine until a new job finds you. Serve in your community and experience the reward of giving selflessly. Participate more in your community of faith. Exercise, do yard work, fix stuff.
  6. React to hopelessness by reaching out for professional help. If your sadness swells to depression, talk to a qualified person. This is especially important if you have a history of depression.

The Bible Reveals the Truth About Grief

Look to the Scriptures during grief.

Many characters in the Bible faced and coped with loss. Job lost everything and held on to his integrity before God. Naomi’s loss of husband and sons preceded the birth of king David. Hannah grieved for children that she did not have and asked God to give her Samuel. David’s sin resulted in loss and intense grief. David poured his grieving heart out to God. His psalms encourage us to do the same. Tell God how you feel and trust His faithfulness as you go through grief.

Look to Jesus during grief.

Jesus wept as he experienced the grief of Mary and Martha when Lazarus died. Throughout his earthly life, Jesus was a man acquainted with grief; he is moved by our feelings of weakness.

Look to the Holy Spirit during grief.

Remember that Jesus sent a Comforter, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God will give you a refreshing new perspective on life and God’s purpose for your life.

God has a purpose for your grief. It is a time to regain stability so that joy can return. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

 

 

Should Christians Salute and Pledge to the U. S. Flag?

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Should Christians pledge loyalty to anyone but Christ?

Jesus said not to make oaths.

“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not]make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil. z

How would this commandment apply to the following important oaths? Should Christians make oaths in some situations but not in others?

Marriage Vows. Should a Christian husband pledge to be true and faithful to his wife until they are parted by death? The Bible does not contain any record of marriage vows, yet it honors marriage.

Oath in Court.  Should a Christian swear to tell the truth in court? The Bible tells us not to take a brother to court, but it does not forbid giving testimony in court. Most of us are familiar with the scenario when a witness places his right hand on a copy of the Bible to say, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” The Bible is no longer required for this swearing in, but a refusal to take the oath is considered contempt of court.

Oath of Office. Should Christians make an oath to fulfill their duties when they are elected and employed by government? The Bible does not address the required oath of office taken by those elected to government positions, such as the oath of office for the U. S. Senate.

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, a millenarian restorationist nontrinitarian movement labeled as Christian despite their unorthodox beliefs based upon a peculiar translation of the New Testament, teach that a Christian should not vote or seek election, “they remain resolutely neutral with regard to the political affairs of the nations.”* This politically neutral stance has been adopted by a number of mainstream Christian pastors and churches in America. JWs  also believe that bowing down to a flag or saluting it, often in conjunction with an anthem, is a religious act that ascribes salvation, not to God, but to the State or to its leaders.

Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America. Should Christians from other nations take an oath to become citizens of the USA?

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Take Oaths Seriously

Jesus spoke against taking false oaths or taking oaths lightly. It should not be necessary to swear by any other power in order to convince someone of the value of your word. Your integrity and honesty will speak for you.

All Oaths are Subordinate to Faithfulness to God

Christians in the United States have enjoyed a constitutionally fundamental freedom of religion since 1791. The Declaration of Independence attributes our inalienable rights to the Creator along with the necessity for government to have the consent of the governed. This consent of the governed is solemn enough to deserve an oath. This is not an oath that supersedes our loyalty to God but an oath that is subordinate to our faithfulness to God.

The New Testament Encourages Respect Toward Civil Government

Is it appropriate for Christians to show disrespect in the name of Christ? We are not at liberty to ignore Romans chapter 13.

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for [d]good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

1st Timothy chapter 2 indicates that Christians have a duty to support their specific secular government with prayer.

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

1st Peter chapter 2 makes it clear that honoring a human government is not a betrayal toward God and is recommended to demonstrate true Christian character within this world.

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

The US government is not the kingdom of God. It is not the Church of Jesus Christ. It is a civil government established and maintained through human effort. Where there is liberty for men, there will be liberty for some to abuse that human law for sinful objectives. Somehow, God’s sovereignty is higher and greater than all this. God is higher and greater than the US government, yet he asks his followers to be respectful and honor human government.


Christians Should Be Cautious About Their Political Identification

Refusing to salute the flag is political activism. The greater question is, “Should Christians join this type of movement?” Christians should be cautious about identifying themselves with opinions that are expressed by the enemies of Jesus Christ and that clearly go against Scripture, God’s higher authority. Christians have been observed wearing scarves that identify them with solidarity of militant organizations that have set a goal of the death and destruction of all Jews. Consider your ways. Don’t just follow fads without thinking.

Celebrate Your Liberty to Disagree With The USA In The USA

Why is this political action only recommended in America? Because we see the absurdity of asking Christians of other nations to respect the flag of their own nation. Within the USA, you can speak against the government, this is your safe place to rant or pour out your emotional opinion. Nobody will storm your home, jail your children, or behead you for your dissident opinion. Thank God for your liberty to do so here. (Kinda makes me want to salute the Red, White, and Blue right now…)

Peace at Any Cost?

 

God tells us to bless those who curse you. In fact, it is reinforced in the New Testament at least three times.

Matthew 5:44. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”

Luke 6:27-31.  “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

Romans 12:14. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

So then, wouldn’t you think that church people are expected to humbly accept every and all forms of abuse and insult? For example, wouldn’t these verses indicate that anyone can come into your church on Sunday morning and start cursing everyone, and all you can do is offer them the microphone and a complimentary glazed donut?

The Bible says to bless those who curse you. However, it isn’t the only thing the Bible says.

Jesus’ objective was that we live at peace with one another, that we should be peacemakers, but when his disciples were rebuking the children, Jesus did not welcome their poor attitudes. He became indignant (ἀγανακτέω) and corrected them publicly. When Jesus saw that temple worship had been twisted into an opportunity for financial exploitation, he physically blocked people from doing business and flipped their tables and chairs, and rebuked them. Why didn’t he bless them? That is something to think about.

The truth is that Christians are not called to embrace any and all kinds of speech and behavior. It does not promote peace to tolerate everyone who wants to destroy the peace of God that comes through the gospel.

Paul instructed us not to tolerate anyone perverting the Gospel:

Galatians 1:6-9. “ I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

John commanded us not to bless those who sin and deceptively spread false doctrine:

2nd John 9-11.   Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

Paul directed the church to remove a persistently divisive person:

Titus 3:9,10. But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

Paul gave straightforward instruction on how to deal with a sexually immoral person who calls himself a brother:

1 Corinthians 5:4,5. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

It would be wrong to submit to EVERY kind of opposition just so that we can have peace. There is a time to speak out and act up. At least, Jesus, Paul, and John thought so.

Christians must place a high value on making peace and forgiveness. Please don’t use any scriptures as an excuse to continue unforgiveness toward someone or to display anger and bitterness. Seek peace and pursue it… Pursue peace with all people… Let the peace of God rule in your heart… If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men…

Yet, don’t sacrifice everything sacred upon the altar of peace.

How do we know when to answer with blessing and when to answer with a rebuke? Know the Scriptures. Rely upon the Holy Spirit. Seek wisdom and agreement with mature followers of Christ. Pray.

How to Start a Cult

Recently, a conference speaker said,

“If your experience is exalted above God’s Word, you are wrong.”

In my opinion, this was the most important statement that I heard at the ministers’ conference.

The conference speaker led pastors in an organized session of practicing spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, visions, laying on of hands, and other experiences of inspired speech and prayer often associated with the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit. Imagine a meeting room filled with ministers praying in unknown languages and then taking turns speaking any message that God may have placed in their heart. There were all kinds of statements being made by the participating ministers. Some offered direct quotes of Scripture. Some intended to encourage and uplift the hearers. Others intended to admonish us. However, in all that diversity, I did not hear one minister make a statement contradictory to Scripture.

The Prophetic Experiences of Two Different Groups: A Comparison

 

I wish this were true of other meetings in which the participants were encouraged to speak prophetically. Awhile back, in a different setting, my wife and I were eavesdropping on a class for a few minutes. The leader asked the students to listen to the Lord and then speak out what God placed in their hearts. Almost every statement was foolish. One student spoke into the microphone that God wanted her to pray to a dead saint. The leader nodded in agreement and spoke affirmation into the mic. The leader was encouraging the students to seek an experience with God that was, in fact, a revelation of God apart from Scripture.

Was there a difference between the two different groups? What led to such different outcomes?

The first group, the ministers, were all life-long students of the Bible. They were committed to daily reading of the Word. They all had practiced memorization of Scripture with the intent that God’s Word was grafted in to their hearts. Each minister had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as prescribed and described in Scripture.

The second group, the students, were novices without any working knowledge of God’s Word. They had not committed Scripture to memory. Their hearts were filled with silly ideas or even carnal thoughts. Some just wanted to say something to make the teacher happy. The participants had not experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some of them had never even professed salvation through Jesus Christ.

The second group was being encouraged to have an experience, a personal revelation from God. They were doing what the leader asked of them, speaking from what was in their hearts, and the contents reflected exactly what was in their hearts.

The group of ministers possessed hearts saturated daily and filled with God’s Word. They had a desire to tell forth God’s Word. (Prophecy is the forth-telling of God’s Word. We learned that back in Bible college.)

One group spoke from their Scripture-saturated hearts as the Holy Spirit led them. The other group spoke from their own unregenerate soul, human intellect and carnal imagination.

God wants to speak from hearts saturated by His Word.

I have a book written by one of those television evangelists, Charting Your Course By the Dream in Your Heart. “Inside this book is a gold mine of information that will help you develop your full potential and bring into reality your purpose in life.” Yikes. Much of the Bible is about how to stop following your own will, your own heart, because God wants us to learn how to follow His heart. (See Luke 22:42.)

In my opinion, a good way to start a cult is by teaching unfit people to act as leaders. If a person is a non-believer or a new believer (1 Timothy 5:22), don’t encourage or expect them to draw from a deep well and come up with a full bucket. Instead of encouraging them to speak out, let’s ask unfit people to listen quietly and respectfully. (Compare James 1:19 and James 1:21.)

God speaks from a heart that has been faithfully filled with His Word, from a heart that has faithfully listened to His Spirit, from a heart that is dead to sin and alive to God. (See Colossians 3:1-3.)

 

How Not to Build Your Team

Don’t be an insecure leader when building up your team.

A team is a collection of diverse individuals with shared objectives and shared resources. Each individual team member must have freedom to perform different tasks, use different methods, explore different ideas. If the team leader desires creativity, he must encourage diverse styles, diverse expression and communication, conflicting opinions, authentic individualism.

The team leader’s function is to provide this mixed group with the tools to work in harmony. The team leader must be able to know the difference between individualism and rebellion.

Squelching diversity is a bad thing. There is a vast difference between a team member who sees things differently than leadership and a team member who desires to destroy the team and depose the leader. Take the destructive team member aside quietly, give them two warnings, then move them out of the team on the third strike. On the other hand, reward the productive member that is brave enough to admit a different perspective and respectfully share it with you.

You will be stuck with your own boring ideas if you don’t bring in associates that see things differently than you do. Stop limiting yourself and your team. Stop creating an autocracy where all the minions mindlessly perform your bidding.

Your team will not grow if it consists of clones of each other. You must have diversity. Seat the I’ll-never-be-a-minion closer to you so you get all the benefit of their nonconformity.

Don’t fall into fear of conflict. Establish tools for conflict resolution, management of differences. Celebrate differences. Be grateful for those who challenge you.

Never ever have that team meeting where you pour out upon the whole team your negative assessment based upon your frustration with one individual.

Never ever give an ultimatum to your team to either squelch individuality or to leave the team.

Intimidation, no matter how polite the euphemisms in which it is published, will only result in a weaker less authentic team trying to prove to you how much suck-uppish mindless blind loyalty that they have. You will reduce them to mere employees instead of visionary partners.

Gather your diverse team. Cast the vision. Send them out on adventure to discover great things. Bring them back together to share their new revelations. Release your team to grow and be fruitful.

Divisions Are Not Always Bad

by A. W. Tozer
God Tells the Man Who Cares, c 1970, Christian Publications Inc, pp 45-48

When to unite and when to divide, that is the question, and a right answer requires the wisdom of a Solomon.

Some settle the problem by rule of thumb: All union is good and all division bad. It’s that easy. But obviously this effortless way of dealing with the matter ignores the lessons of history and overlooks some of the deep spiritual laws by which men live.

If good men were all for union and bad men for division, or vice versa, that would simplify things for us. Or if it could be shown that God always unites and the devil always divides it would be easy to find our way around in this confused and confusing world. But that is not how things are.

To divide what should be divided and unite what should be united is the part of wisdom. Unions of dissimilar elements is never good even where it is possible, nor is the arbitrary division of elements that are alike; and this is as certainly true of things moral and religious as of things political or scientific.

The first divider was God who at the creation divided the light from the darkness. This division set the direction for all God’s dealings in nature and in grace. Light and darkness are incompatible; to try to have both in the same place at once is to try the impossible and end by havng neither the one nor the other, but dimness rather, and obscurity.

In the world of men there are at present scarcely any sharp outlines. The race is fallen. Sin has brought confusion. The wheat grows with the tares, the sheep and the goats coexist, the farms of the just and the unjust lie side by side in the landscape, the mission is next door to the saloon.

But things will not always be so. The hour is coming when the sheep with be divided from the goats and the tares separated from the wheat. God will again divide the light from the darkness and all things will run to their kind. Tares will go into the fire with tares and wheat into the garner with wheat. The dimness will lift like a fog and all outlines will appear. Hell will be seen to be hell all the way through, and heaven revealed as the one home of all who bear the nature of the one God.

For that time we with patience wait. In the meanwhile for each of us, and for the church wherever she appears in human society, the constantly recurring question must be: What shall we unite with and from what shall we separate? The question of coexistence does not enter here, but the question of union and fellowship does. The wheat grows in the same field with the tares, but shall the two cross-polinate? The sheep graze near the goats, but shall they seek to interbreed? The unjust and the just enjoy the same rain and sunshine, but shall they forget their deep moral differences and intermarry?

To these questions the popular answer is yes. Union for union’s sake, and men shall be brothers be for a’ that. Unity is so devoutly to be desired that no price is too high to pay for it and nothing is important enough to keep us apart. Truth is slain to provide a feast to celebrate the marriage of heaven and hell, and all to support a concept of unity which has no basis in the Word of God.

The Spirit-illuminated church will have none of this. In a fallen world like ours unity is no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise. Loyalty to God, faithfulness and truth and the preservation of a good conscience are jewels more precious than gold of Ophir or diamonds from the mine. For these jewels men have suffered the loss of property, imprisonment and even death; for them, even in recent times, behind the various curtains, followers of Christ have paid the last full measure of devotion and quietly died, unknown to and unsung by the great world, but known to God and dear to His Father heart. In the day that shall declare the secrets of all souls these shall come forth to receive the deeds done in the body. Surely such as these are wiser philosophers than the religious camp followers of meaningless unity who have not the courage to stand against the vogues and who bleat for brotherhood only because it happens to be for the time popular.

“Divide and conquer” is the cynical slogan of Machiavellian political leaders, but Satan knows how to unite and conquer. To bring a nation to its knees the aspiring dictator must unite it. By repeated appeals to national pride or to the need to avenge some past or present wrong the demagogue succeeds in uniting the populace behind him. It is easy after that to take control of the military and to beat the legislature into submission. Then follows almost perfect unity indeed, but it is the unity of the stockyards and the concentration camp. We have seen this happen several times in this century, and the world will see it at least once more when the nations of the earth are united under Antichrist.

When confused sheep start over a cliff the individual sheep can save himself only be separating from the flock. Perfect unity at such a time can only mean total destruction for all. The wise sheep to save his own hide disaffiliates.

Power lies in the union of things similar and the division of things dissimilar. Maybe what we need in religious circles today is not more union but some wise and courageous division. Everyone desires peace but it could be that revival will follow the sword.

Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor. During his lifetime, he was described as "a 20th century prophet." Tozer exhorted the Church to act as those who belonged to the kingdom of God. His legacy is the library of over 40 books written from his heart to the Church.

How to Euthanize Your Fervor

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The nineteenth verse of First Thessalonians chapter five advises us:

Do not quench the Spirit.

I quickly thought of six ways that we can put out the flame:

  1. Lack of communication
  2. Starvation
  3. Isolation
  4. Distraction
  5. Misinformation
  6. Lack of participation

matches

Lack of Communication

When we neglect to talk with God, it is like withholding oxygen necessary for combustion. Prayer is not a dull religious duty, it is a privilege provided for those who want to talk to God. Don’t waste the privilege. Eventually, a prayer-less follower of Christ stops following Christ.

Starvation

The Word of God is like spiritual nourishment. When we eat candy bars and potato chips, we can kill our appetite for healthy food. In a similar fashion, we will do harm to our spiritual health when we neglect the Bible. Sermons are good, but not a good substitute for personal reading. Bible-reading is not a dull religious duty. God gave us His Word for our benefit. It will keep us from spiritual starvation.

Isolation

Fellowship with like-minded believers will provide opportunities for learning, sharing, praying, worshiping and much more. When we do not consistently meet together with other believers, as in a local church body, we are separating the wood in the fireplace. Eventually, the isolated sticks will flicker out and grow cold.

Distraction

Devotion can be directed to anything or anyone. When we devote our resources of time and finances to games and entertainment over opportunities to know God and His Word, we will grow cold. However, when we make a commitment to God, devote our resources to His purpose in our live, and diligently follow through, our hearts will be able to maintain their spiritual heat.

Misinformation

We need good teaching. A bible phrase for good teaching is “sound doctrine.” Do you honestly think that Christians should get their doctrine from FaceBook memes? Study to show yourself approved to God as a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. When you don’t know what you believe, your flame can be huffed out so easily.

Lack of participation

It is easier to be a spectator rather than a participant, but it is not as exciting. We are members of the body of Christ, not observers. We must be doers of the Word, not hearers only. We need to walk worthy of our calling, not sit and watch the world go by. Action-less faith is not living faith. Get involved. Be active. Participate.

 

How to Preach Foolishness

Preaching is rightly dividing the Word of God with a view to persuasion – a balance of all things that make a preacher one who is persuasive.

In 1941, J. Harwood Patterson defined preaching:

Preaching is the spoken communication of divine truth with a view to persuasion.

Patterson explained his definition had three aspects:

  • THE MATTER: divine truth | what to preach
  • THE MANNER: spoken | how to preach
  • THE PURPOSE: persuasion |why we preach

Patterson modeled after Guthrie’s Three P’s:

  • Proving
  • Painting
  • Persuading

Preaching must be more than a lecture or a talk. A sermon must tell us how to live and convince us to act appropriately. Daniel Webster said,

I do not go to church to learn history, but to be reminded of duty.

Preaching must be greater than philosophical pondering out loud. The preacher is a messenger who delivers the Word of God to his flock, not intellectual doubt, not speculation, not negativity, but a confident statement of God’s expectations.

Longfellow said,

To me, a sermon is no sermon in which I cannot hear the heart beat.

Luther said,

It is no light thing to speak before men in the place of God.

 

…just because the ocean is so vast and his vessel so small, no sailor should attempt to compass his tack in one voyage.

 

The Preacher’s Vital Relationship With God

The preacher, as a man of God, must thoughtfully embrace the meaning of salvation, must know what is involved, what a personal relationship with Christ is.

The preacher must be in a place with God where he has sensed the Holy Spirit bearing witness with his spirit so he knows he has His touch on his own life. The preacher must experience what he is saying.

The preacher must have had that message touch his own life –  the message has been practical to him. The minister must have a high degree of honesty in applying the Truth that God gives to his own life and family.

The Preacher’s Vital Relationship With the Human Race

The preacher, as a man of his times, to be effective, must always be a learner. Read, watch, see. Know the news. Don’t bottle yourself up in as study. Know your community and your congregation.

The preacher must know the times, the issues, and the people in order to learn fresh themes, discern proper doctrinal emphasis, apply proper illustrations and pertinent applications.

The preacher should be the most knowledgeable person in the community. Read a reputable news source. Invest 30 minutes each evening listening to the local news. Spend 2-3 days a week rubbing shoulders with people in the marketplace.

 

How to Be Deplorable

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton insulted American voters by categorizing many of them as a “basket of deplorables”.  She did this on both Saturday and Sunday.

One of the reactions has been to call her speech “hate speech”. Therefore, she offered an apology for her choice of words.

However, I may agree with many of the words that she used. I have observed that some Donald’s Trump supporters actually do hate people of other races, nationalities and ethnicity.

And then I think that Mrs. Clinton was ill, possibly running a fever, when she made the statements.

Donald Trump has been accused of speaking his mind plainly. He is also been credited with “telling it like it is”. The fact is that Donald Trump simply speaks his mind, he talks like a lot of Americans talk, off-the-cuff, casually, emotionally. I don’t think he is particularly skillful at presenting the truth in an understandable fashion. He certainly doesn’t sound like a New York billionaire. (Cue “Green Acres” theme song.)

Followers of Jesus Christ must be different. Let’s not be conformed to any of this. Let’s be Spirit-transformed people who will transform our culture by the presence of God’s Spirit in our own lives. Some people may find us deplorable. So what.