Friday, September 12, 2008
Persecution is all around us, even in America. I want to speak of another kind of persecution. A kind of persecution we don’t think much about. I kind of persecution I was too naive to realize even existed. It’s persecution within the church.
John chapter 16 says, “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.”
We live in a time of postmodern thought. This postmodern thought has tricked into the church. Today, that trickle is turning into a flood. In a nutshell, postmodern thought rejects the idea of absolute truth. Postmodern “Christians” are really interested in conforming to the world (culture). I have heard it described as “Cafeteria Christianity”. They pick and choose what parts of the Bible they accept and throw out much as “out of touch” with the culture, therefore no longer useful.
I ran into this at a church I attended for 15 years. A fairly recent change in leadership brought a change in core beliefs. There was a shift from biblical Christianity to cultural Christianity. The most disturbing part of it was, when approached, leadership never wanted to discuss scripture; they always pulled our conversations back to culture. When the attributes of a pastor (1 Timothy 3) was mentioned, they would shy away insinuating those standards were unrealistic today. When the topic came up, should woman serve under the title Pastor/Elder, they didn’t want to discuss scripture, they pointed to Hillary Clinton’s run for President as the example for the church to follow.
Just as the verse above say’s, “They will put you out of the synagogue…”. Today, they will throw you under the bus if you hold to an absolute truth, all obedient view of the bible. Pastor Mark Driscoll has a wonderful quote on this, “When God speaks we are not to converse, we are to obey”. When God say’s this is what I expect my pastors to look like, we need to look like that, period. When God says only men should hold the title pastor/elder, we are to obey.
I stood for truth and was thrown under the bus. My hope is that everyone will understand this persecution within the church is real and I believe it is going to get worse as the years go by. Please join me in praying for all church leaders who are allowing this to go on in their congregations. We must return to biblical Christianity. We must understand that the Word of God is reliable and the final authority on everything.
It is my prayer that you would double your efforts by increasing the amount of time you spend in God’s Word. Protect yourself against false doctrine by abiding in God’s Word.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
These are the "memoirs"of Nehemiah. As I stated in the last blog, the book of Nehemiah is really his diary, or as the New Living Translation puts it, his memoirs. He is literally recording the step by step process he took (or God took) in restoring Jerusalem. Nehemiah was serving the Persian King Artaxerxes and living as an exile in the Persian capital of Susa. After getting a visit from his brother, Nehemiah inquired about his homeland, Jerusalem.
They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:3-4 NLT)
The walls represented the strength and peace of Jerusalem. They were broken down and the gates were burned. Nehemiah was deeply troubled by this news. The Word tells us he wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed for Jerusalem. I find it interesting that he didn't do what most of us would have done and go into fits of rage and lash out. He didn't "shoot the messenger" so to speak. He went to the Father with his grief.
Then I said, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses. “Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’ “The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants. O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer. (Nehemiah 1:5-11 NLT)
Within his prayer, Nehemiah first praised God. Next, he confessed sin that he and his family committed (better known as repentance). He removed any possible barrier between him and God. When we choose not to repent of sin, that will act as a barrier to our prayers reaching the Father. Last, Nehemiah made a specific request to God, "use me" (my paraphrase). Nehemiah was the King's cup-bearer. Therefore, he had a unique relationship with the King.
We can learn a lot from the prayer of Nehemiah. He poured himself out to God. Is there something in your life you need to cry out to God for? Nehemiah gives us a model, praise, repent, and make a request. It is great to know we have a loving Father who will embrace us in our time of need.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Nehemiah is an incredible example of true Christian leadership. What is great to me is the fact that the lessons learned from Nehemiah can be used in any setting. I believe every Pastor should study this book to prepare for their ministry. We can all learn a lot from Nehemiah. Nehemiah wrote this book, as his diary so to speak, in approximately 445-432 B.C., and it is just as relevant today. One could literally take this book and apply it to their leadership position and be as successful as Nehemiah was in restoring Jerusalem.
Another lesson we learn is how important prayer was to Nehemiah. He was not led by his own human desires. He was truly in tune with God and led a life of prayer. This is what I like to call being Spirit-led. Before he acted on anything, Nehemiah went to God in prayer. Because of that obedience, God blessed Nehemiah.
I see such determination and persistence in Nehemiah. God used Nehemiah to accomplish what many saw as an impossible task, restoring Jerusalem.
I'd like to challenge you to read through the book of Nehemiah. Read it, study it, and meditate on it. It is my desire to bring a chapter by chapter blog of this incredible book. I pray that it impacts your life just as much as it did mine. Won't you join me on this life-changing journey through the book of Nehemiah.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Wow. The first verse in the whole Bible. At first glance, it seems like such a simple verse, but there is such a wealth of knowledge hidden within.
We live in a day where science is trying everything to replace the Word of God, especially on the topic of creation. People constantly try to explain away the power of God Almighty. That being siad, I think it is important to know that I take a literal interpretation of God's Word. I believe God's power is limitless as we will see throughout the book of Genesis. The closer I get to God through the study of His Word, the more I realize just how incredible He is. I know we will never understand it all, but what He does show me is mindblowing.
Genesis 1:1 is the "beginning" of it all. "God created...". God is our creator. That is one concept that is established here. Every creation had a creator, that is logical. We can learn a lot about the creator by looking at his creation. Take a painting for example, the more you study it, the more you begin to identify with the artist that created it. It is a glimpse into their mind. It is the same way with God and His creation. Once we understand and accept this verse, we can begin to understand other things through God's Word that may raise doubts. God created it all. Do you believe that?
This verse also gives us some clues about the creator, God himself. We see that He is creative. God is in control. As Genesis unfolds, we will see just how creative and in control God really is. It is really an incredible thing to study. We also see that He is distinct from His creation.
What do you see in this verse? Do you believe this verse with all your heart?
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith."Acts 6:1-7 (NIV)
There are some incredible things we see in these verses. I want to focus on just one. "...[we will] give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word". There is so much power in this verse. This was the Apostles making this statement. The leaders of the early church. In our churches today, the leaders are usually pastors. I think this verse is freeing to pastors. Could you imagine how dynamic our churches would be if pastors really freed themselves from all their busyness and focused solely on prayer and the word of God?
God has set this up in His word. Pastors spend hours trying to figure out what they should be doing as church leaders. They read books by men on church leadership many of which may or may not have been successful themselves. God's word has the answers they are looking for.
If pastors found folks in their churches to handle the busy stuff of church and they focused on prayer and the word, we would have dynamic churches. Churches preaching and teaching the entire word of God. Lives would be changed because pastors would be challenging people into change by the convicting power of the word of God. The Growth Movement would be made of real growth of people from the inside out and not just referring to putting bottoms in the pews. Imaging pastors freed to become prayer warriors. Praying for their congregations, their families, their staffs, and praying for real change to come, a revival.
I get excited when I think of this. I have discussed this with church leaders who agree with me. Now our job is to pitch in and help our pastors get to this point. Let's think of ways to take the load off our pastors so they can focus on "prayer and the ministry of the word".