January 14, 2017
Ever since I have been saved, I have heard that “Preachers are only in it for the money.” My first pastor was driving a twelve-year-old car, raising four kids on a salary that was equal to what my father-in-law was paying in weekly taxes. Admittedly, when you look at the lifestyles of the rich and famous TV preachers it is hard to not come up with the conclusion that preachers are all about the shekel. When you are living in multi-million dollar houses, wearing Rolex watches, have private jets and expensive furniture in your office it does cast a cloud of suspicion on your motives, mission, and message.
I determined early in my ministry that I did not want to be one of those lads. Even if I made it to TV, I wanted to live on a much simpler budget. Some men like Alistair Begg do keep things real as he offers all of his online sermons on an offering basis and if you are broke you can still be blessed for free. My pastor does the same with his online material. A workman is worthy of his hire, but then there is an excessive luxury that neither Jesus, the Apostles or the mighty men of God throughout history ever experienced or desired.
Unfortunately, these folks create headaches for the majority of pastors who are struggling because their churches cannot pay them a decent salary and many work full-time jobs to keep both family and church afloat. Others are able to pastor without pay because they have other means of income. These folks do the bulk of ministry in the Kingdom. The other lads have a crowd, but they are not in the trenches ministering to the bulk of the Body.
As of July 4th, 2016, there were 323,148, 587 people in America. As of July 18th. 2016, ABC news stated that 83% of all Americans identify as Christians or 268,213,327 people. Add all the mega-churches together and I doubt they come to more than 6 million. They must be at least 2K or more to be considered a Mega-church. There are 1210 in the US give or take. I used an average of 5K per to get the 6 million.
So that means that at least 260+ million Christians are getting ministered to by some other means. Some are shut-ins so the TV, radio, and Intenet folks are ministering to them, but there is also a local pastor and church group ministering to them Some of these are full-time pastors with pay and benefits. Many are full-time pastors on SS or part-timers working a job with a small salary while others are not paid at all. So who are the real superstars?
With churches in decline, more and more of the pastors are receiving small or no salaries and churches are going without pastors. Some churches still have parsonages, which they might consider selling, but many do not so a man must provide his own housing on his own dime. Their reward is in serving Christ and one day they will get a reward in Heaven. Indeed, some of these churches do more in some areas than some of the big churches.
I know one now that is pastored by a disabled Veteran who takes no salary and has a housebound wife. He drives at least forty-five miles one way to minister. They have a soup kitchen weekly and reach out to the poor and homeless with such success that surpasses the ministry of many churches ten times their size and they have only been in existence three years. May others model them.
People complain about pastor’s salaries and some even teach that a pastor should never have a salary, which is not scriptural. They that preach the gospel are to live of the gospel and the elder who labors in the Word is worthy of double honor or salary. That word honor is where we get the term honorarium, which is a payment. The irony of this is that the one who wrote those words often worked to support himself though he did at times receive funds much like our missionaries. Yet, he took nothing from the church in Corinth and they seemed offended by that.
2 Corinthians 11:7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
He was working and receiving money elsewhere. The Corinthians had many issues and were a very immature and carnal bunch though they had all the gifts of the Spirit. That should be a warning and call to assessment for all of us. You can be gifted and still be carnal. Much care needs to be taken when studying these folks are they are more a study of what not to be than how to be a spirit-filled Christian.
These people were led to Christ by Paul and yet all it took was some folks in fancy attire and glowing referrals to show up and they lost respect for Paul questioning his apostleship. They may have asked for food, housing, and offerings as well. If you read more about this you see Paul did not have the physique for the cover of GQ and was not an orator like Chrystoom who was known as the golden-mouthed orator. This did aid his detractors who seemed to feel that God could not use a physically beat up man with a less than perfect elocution. I am glad that God did use him because I am a better writer than a speaker and you will never see me on GQ as well.
I have found that people who cuss about how much a pastor makes also have an issue with a man who will minister for less or even for free. A man once looked at my resume and said that my problem was that I did not have enough titles or paid positions, which churches looked for when calling a pastor. I thought that would be a plus showing I was not seeking to serve for a title or filthy lucre. Go figure.
I once told a church that I would come for 10K less than they offered so they could use that many to pay off the mortgage give it to missions. I guess I sounded weird, desperate or crazy. Who asks for a lower salary rather than more? I just did not need as much as they offered to take care of my family.
If I sounded weird to them, I must really drive folks nuts now when I tell them I will fill in for their pastor, be an interim or do a revival or evangelistic service for free. I recently offered my services to local funeral homes and told them to especially consider me for people who not only have no local pastor but also for those who need to keep down expenses as I do not require payment. My card, I know, is on file with one, but the others may have put it in their round file thinking I am crazy. We shall see.
1 Corinthians 9:18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
I like the way Paul said this. It is his reward to preach without charge. I guess he was crazy, also. Like my disabled Vet friend, my needs are well cared for and I retired to serve. Most of my ministry over the years has been unpaid and that is cool as I did not abuse my power and cannot be accused of it. All of those folks who fussed about preachers in the early days would have to hush looking at my ministry career.
Would it have been great if I could have had a full-time paid ministry? Yes, I could have done more. The advantage besides not being able to be accused of wanting “easy” money is that no one controlled me. My family’s welfare did not depend on my ministerial income. I have seen men kicked out with little/no warning, no severance pay and unable to draw unemployment as a pastor is considered self-employed. Not very Christian, but it happens more than I would care to think.
Some churches entrap and control a man with their pay and benefits so that they can decide what he will preach and what he will not preach. An old song talks about tiptoeing through the tithers. Another speaks of not making the teachers or the deacons’ wives mad. There is much truth in those thoughts as many seasoned ministers can affirm. I never had a strong fear of that as I was looking for a place to minister when I got to where I was and my family would eat with or without the pleasure of those folks. Every place I served, I hoped I would be serving there until death or Rapture, but it was not the end of the world when it was time to leave either with a farewell party or on a rail. 😉 Fortunately, there were few rails, but there were times when a change in personnel and vision made it necessary for me to leave. If I cannot support the vision, I leave as quietly as possible seeking to have no one follow me. More people need that philosophy and not start another church a mile down the road taking their fan club with them.
The bottom line is that if you do not think the pastor is worth the salary he is making then go find one that you believe is getting what he is worth. If you are looking for a pastor and can give him an adequate salary so he and his wife do not need to work then do so without marionette strings attached. Oh, and don’t do the old two for one trick giving the man and his wife paid positions that together do not make a wage you could live on. That is just wrong. She needs to be with the kids, if they have them, not working ten hour days for the church and her husband twelve hour days when he is on call 24/7. Many a minister has burned out and his marriage destroyed because of the selfish and miserly ways of a church.
Finally, do not be afraid of a man that is willing to serve you for nothing. You may be turning away the Apostle Paul and the person that God may use to turn your church around or show you something from God that another man could not or will not. As with any man, vet him, but do not reject him without cause. God pays better than most churches and also knows when to cap a salary for the glory of God and to avoid undue offense or giving ammunition to His critics. Maranatha!
January 7, 2017
Mar 5:27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
If you want revival, do not look at the crowds. Look to Jesus and reach out to Him. No crowd can keep you from Him. All it takes is your faith. He knew who she was, but He wanted her to testify. He does not call secret disciples. When He does something for you, you need to make it known. Indeed, we just need to tell Him all the truth about our need for Him. He is never to busy to turn around and let you see His face and receive what you need. That meeting is your salvation or your revival depending on where you are spiritually at that moment. Reach out and touch Him! You are not lost in a crowd. God sees You as if you were the only person before Him. Praise His name!!!
January 7, 2017
1 Corinthians 16:9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
2017 is a great and open door for ministry, The sky is the limit. There are many needs so there is one or two somewhere you can meet whether you are 8 or 88.
God is on your side for ministry, When you were saved, He gave you at least one and possibly more spiritual gifts that you are to use for His glory, the health of the Body and even salvation of someone. You will never be content or joyful until you are exercising those gifts. You don’t have them to put them on a shelf and let them gather dust like souvenirs.
There are always many adversaries whenever there are great opportunities. Your own flesh and excuses will fight you to try and keep you from the success He has for you. Friends and family may try to dissuade you. Grab the vision and opportunity no matter who is trying to wrest it from your grip!
If you are seeing an opportunity for some spiritual growth in your life you definitely have adversaries. The devil will attack your weaknesses to keep you in despair and defeat. Again, friends and family may tell you to not get too fanatical. Even Christians who are content in the their doldrums and mediocrity will try to “reason” with you that Jesus does not want you to be radical about your faith. Unbelievers will mock you.
Never give up! God has other ideas so just turn away from the naysayers and the devil. The devil is a liar and sincere people can be sincerely wrong.
Whatever God has shown you and called you to do, YOU CAN DO IT THROUGH HIS POWER! It might be tough. Nothing worth anything comes easy except your salvation. This is a battlefield and you are in the Lord’s Army so endure hardness as a good soldier and fight on!
Great and effectual doors are open! This is to be your year of victory if you receive it. When He opens the doors run through them listening only to His voice! They can fire at you all they want, but God can deflect that fire as He sets you on fire for Him! Grab on to Jesus and enjoy the battle because it means the enemy is angry. which means victory will be even sweeter! Alleluia! Maranatha!!!
January 5, 2017
Paul is the most maligned apostle of all the apostles. If it were only by the Jews of his day, that would be understandable. The problem is that he received more friendly fire than enemy fire. He had to defend himself to the church in Jerusalem and against those who came to undermine his ministry at Corinth. Worst of all, he had to defend himself to the very people he won to Christ.
It was not easy being Paul then and it is just as hard today. The various groups today pick and choose his writings and some even question his apostleship today stating that much of his writings are not inspired, but just his opinions. Misguided opinions at that. Where they agree with him like in salvation by faith and faith alone they will sing his praises, but where they disagree they will say that it was cultural and not for today or the rants of a misogynist or some other derogatory name. Sometimes they try to play one verse over another though there is no contradiction in the verses, but rather contradiction in our biased interpretation.
We have a problem here. Either he is an apostle or not and if not we have even more problems. If he is, then we have no right to question his teachings because we or our culture does not like them. Paul had to deal with a culture that was not much unlike our own so it is really pretty easy to understand and apply his teachings if we are honest with the Word.
I get that our Messianic Jewish brothers have some trouble dealing with Paul because even Peter said Paul taught some things hard to be understood, yet he acknowledged Paul’s apostleship and doctrine. Paul was and is the Apostle to the nations or Gentiles,us. Like it or not, we are to build our doctrines and practices off of his teachings, not our desires or disagreements. We really have no excuse because we do not have the cultural issues that often hinder our brethren of Jewish descent from fully embracing Paul or doing what we do and try to work around the parts they do not like or find hard to understand.
Paul was not what we would call politically correct. He was not called to be that. He was an extremely zealous and studious Jew that defended the faith to the hilt. We cannot expect him to be any less so as a Christian. We also have to give him some closer attention because he received one on one training from Christ in the wilderness for three years. That is more intense than the other Apostles received. They were prepared to minister to the Jews, whose language and customs they knew and it was a twelve member class with one who flunked.
Paul was amazingly intelligent and well learned, but he had to have a complete retraining so he could answer both Jew and Greek (Gentiles). He was going to have an intense ministry as we see in his resume (2 Cor 11) and in the book of Acts so he received special intense training from the Lord. It is very hard to question a man who has that kind of certification.
Jesus taught Paul and the others in just three years. We now want a man to study anywhere from 8 to 15 years before we deem him a real expert in the faith so obviously our training is a bit inferior to Christ’s. Who are we to argue with Paul? I would have to say we are very arrogant or maybe not true Christians, but rather having a form of godliness denying the power thereof. None of our writings are inspired like his, if you believe the Bible to be inspired. Just saying.
Paul obviously said that his writings were the commandments of God, not just the philosophy or theology of men. In college, we study the Pauline epistles and speak of Pauline theology, but in a sense that is a misnomer. God inspired him to write what he did, so really we are studying Theos theology or the study of God’s theology, not Paul’s. When you look at it that way, it makes it more difficult to question what Paul writes, He did say of one issue, that he was giving his opinion, not from commandment. Yet, he said that he believed he had the mind of Christ. If God disagreed with him, would he be allowed to give that opinion? Since God did not censor him and he was writing under inspiration, was it only his opinion and not to be considered? Indeed, did he know the mind of Christ so well that he could base his opinion on that knowledge without having to have a direct command on the issue? I think that is a logical conclusion.
Do we not make judgments on what we know about a person? If someone says they are thinking of asking me to go to a sporting event to a friend of mine, that friend who knows me will tell them I am not a sports guy. Did they ask me? Did I have to tell them? No, because my friend has my mind on that issue. Paul was in such close relationship with Christ he could give an opinion that was not contrary to Christ’s thoughts without needing a direct command. I feel safe to say that very few, if anyone, are in that same type of relationship and if they were they would never contradict anything Paul wrote. I am afraid that we are in the position of those who Paul had to ask if the word of God came from out of them or to them only. It is always safe to question other men, but dangerous to question the Apostles.
That is how we get wrapped up in many heresies. Heresy is not only false doctrine, but also division. We are not to be divided, but we are more so now than ever in history with a new church cropping up every day dividing the Body and sapping it of the unity Christ ordained. Often, it is because of some false doctrine or an undue exaltation of one issue or some fad. Sometimes, it is the pride or anger of men. It is hard to believe that this division is the will of God when His will is unity. Indeed, if every church in town is apostate then a new work would be necessary, but if not, then it is not necessary. In my small town, not every church is apostate or cultist and yet we have a new one it seems every six months or so crop up. So what is going on? Is it of God or man?
Some differences create denominations and others cause church splits while others change denominations. In my experience and research, every group has one or more doctrines that are not in complete alignment with Paul’s teachings that he said were commandments of God. So while Paul was called to teach us how Church is to be done and what we are to believe to keep us in unity, in the end we are divided over them. That did not come from God.
As I said, Paul was not PC and would be in great controversy if he were preaching today. He would experience more beatings and friendly fire. He may even incur more jail time. When someone is right, he can be adamant and even what we would call insulting when Paul said if a person is ignorant then let him be ignorant. So if a person claims to be spiritual or a prophet and disagrees with him they are in a precarious position. Are they ignorant and not as spiritual as they think or have a prophet’s call? Paul would say yes so that is an ouch to many theologians. Paul did not read Dale Carnegie’s book on how to win friends and influence people. Then again, that was worldly wisdom that works in the world, but Paul’s wisdom came from above.
It would seem it best for all theologians to reread Paul and readjust their theology accordingly. If Paul is wrong in one area, he may be wrong in others. What if he is wrong about salvation through faith by grace? Where we then? Still dead in sin or tossing dice. No, you have to take all of Paul, not pick and choose. If you dump Paul in one area, you may as well dump him in all. You cannot create a Jeffersonian bible and kick Paul even partly to the curb. There is too much peril in doing so. Accept what he says, not try to revise him to you or your culture’s liking. Just say yes to Paul. Jesus called him as one out of due time and trained him one on one. It is not wise to challenge a person with that honor. Maranatha!
December 31, 2016
What we forget about God sometimes is that He is the master of time and for Him it does not exist. What is present to us is past to Him as is all the rest of what we call time. He has seen the future from before the foundation of the world.
Worried about 2017? To Him it is a done deal and nothing takes Him by surprise, even your pain or failure. He has seen your loneliness or despair. He has seem you times of strong faith and your times of weak, nearly extinguished faith. He had the answer to your prayers and saw your destiny before your X or Y chromosomes were created in your parent’s body and they were joined at conception. He knew Jeremiah before he was formed and called him to be a prophet. He has a call on your life as well. He knows when you will accept it and what kind of misery it might take for you to accept it.
Thus do not despair. He saw the end at the beginning and for those who are His. He has seen them in Christ at the end of the world. He has seen what He has planned for them to be doing in eternity when we cannot see anything in this moment that is good in our lives.
Read the verse below. Feeling unseen? He saw you in eternity past. Feeling alone? He is omnipresent. You are never alone. Feel unloved? He loved you and accepted you in the Beloved in eternity past. Feel rejected? He has been rejected by the majority since the Fall of man. He knows your pain. Feel like no one cares and you are abandoned? He predestined you for adoption. When your mother and father forget you, He will lift you up in His arms as a precious child that Jesus Christ died and purchased from the one who would love to see you destroyed.
2017? No big deal as are all the years until His coming. Will there be hard times? Yes. Will He be there? Yes. He saw it all and saw how He would bring you through it. That is the God who loves you. That is the Son who died for you. That is the Spirit who was sent to comfort and guide you. The New Year is old news to Him and He has it handled. Rest, beloved in the Beloved. He is risen! He is risen, indeed and coming back! Alleluia!
1Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
December 31, 2016
Ezekiel 33:2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: 3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. 6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. 7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. Many Christians and churches are failing at their job as a watchman. They meet in their four walls, glad hand everyone and are proud of their building, but they are not winning souls or warning saints. The church was not meant to be where the select of the elect meet, eat and retreat. It was meant to power up to go out into the street and entreat sinners to receive the grace and mercy of the Lord before He comes with a sword. Yes, not all of us are evangelists, but we are commanded to be witnesses and to be able to give a reason to whoever asks why we believe. Do you give opportunity for people to ask? Is your little light under a bushel? Is your life so different that people want to know why? You are a watchman. Have you been sounding the alarm to warn them of the lion seeking to devour them and the serpent who has already bitten them? Have you offered them safety and the antidote? When the pastor speaks of being a watchman are you listening with interest or looking at your watch, man? You are failing as a watchman. Is your church all about the saints, their comfort and entertainment? Your only outreach consists of concerts and suppers that attract sheep from other folds more than lost sheep? Is it all about nostalgia? Are you basically holding memorial services each week for a church that no longer exists but was glorious in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80 or 90s? Then you aren’t watchmen because your walls and gates fell years ago. No one comes by to hear the warning and no one goes out. Your candlestick has been removed because your church failed in its job. Wake up! Accept the defeat. Repent and go join a church that is doing its job as a watchman and support them. Leave the past and ruins behind. If your relatives in the graveyard are holding you back then dig them up and take them with you, but do not stay among the ruins and graveyards. God has called you to life and a future, not a dead past. Does your church vacillate when it comes to taking a stand on truth? Are all your messages mental massages that make people feel good, but does not address the root cause of their guilt or pain? Are they just motivational speeches that offend no one and are a form of spiritual Xanax coated in chocolate? They taste good, but are not good over the long haul? I do not mean that you have to revert to the hard, loud, bombastic sermons that are often rude, crude and hurtful. No, there is a biblical balance between those and milquetoast sermons. It is called speaking the truth in love. You do not kowtow to the culture. You do not tiptoe through the tithers or shake in fear of the deacons or their wives. You get a message from God and you deliver it accurately and clearly because you know His love wants them to hear it. Sometimes, it may sound rough to some folks. It depends on your congregation. If you are talking to a majority of Pharisees, Sadducees or tares, then anything that comes from God will anger and tear them up. Preacher, if you are doing it right and all you get is criticism and anger then it might be time to move on. Then again, God may have sent you there to convert them though it may take a long, rough time to get there. Remember, you are the watchman on the wall to them. If they hear, awesome. If not. and you are told to leave you can say as Paul did that your hands are clean of their blood. If you are blessed to have a majority of people who love the Lord, then you will see great fruit as you preach the truth in love though that may mean you have to reprove and rebuke as well as exhort. That does not mean you will be trouble free as all congregations have saved, unsaved, carnal, Pharisees and Sadducees. No matter, as when they are in the minority they can be a stimulus to stay the course and keep you humble as God brings forth the fruit. Be the watchman and allow God to watch over you. Be you the preacher or the member, you are called to be a watchman. Just because you do not have the gift of an evangelist does not let you off the hook.. Timothy did not seem to have that gift either, but Paul told him to do the work of an evangelist. When you come out of your comfort zone and there is fruit it means you will be more likely to give credit to God and not take it yourself and that is a good thing. Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Maybe you are a watchman in the sense of you see trouble approaching a lost person and more likely in a saint and want to warn them. You want them to avoid the trouble. Exhortation is a form of watching on the wall. Just be sure that you know what you are talking about when you approach them and you are doing it because God called you to do it, not a personal desire for glory or gossip material. If you are a believer in prophetic works make very sure you are getting your message from Him. A fleshly prophecy does much hurt. Your intention can be as sincere as it can be, but if it is not from you then neither the person you tell it to or God will be happy. Get the facts as appearances are very deceitful! A word fitly spoken is as gold, but a fleshly word will cause a fit. How would you be rated if God did a job performance review? Would you or your church get a highly successful, successful or would God put you on a performance improvement plan? Would you be replaced and sent to retraining? Has your church lamp stand been removed? If you are doing well. but your church has failed, move on. Go where you iron can be sharpened. No. you will not be the spearhead of revival. It is more likely that they will drag you down then you will bring them up. There came a time when God told Jerusalem that even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it they would not stop judgment upon the city. If God is blessing a church, they will grow and the Body will be active, not just meeting and maintaining the building with an appearance of being a church. Get out and grow. That goes for pastor and member alike. You are called to be a watchman, not a gravekeeper. Indeed, the reason many pastors quit the ministry and members quit church is that they stayed too long among the ruins and graveyards. Revival and resurrection are two different things. The next resurrection will be at the Rapture. Revival can come anytime. Revival is needed and for you it may not come until you go where there is life. Seek revival! Maranatha!
December 21, 2016
Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
“No holiday should manipulate you to the point where you are going into debt just to so show someone that you love them.” – The Lion’s Roar
We do have the wrong perspective, folks. Keep it simple, Saint. He was born in stable, not a mansion. Two years later He received funds to sustain the family in Egypt and for the return. It was probably enough to get Joseph’s shop going in Nazareth.
I require nothing from my family. I am happy if they love me all year long, not just on my birthday and other gift giving days. I have too much stuff as it is that they will have to get rid of after I am gone. Why generate more work?
It is too late for this year, but next year put all the focus on Him. Give a gift card of a reasonable amount, if you must, but donate a sheep or goat to poor people overseas, help the homeless here or do some special work of love for Him in your community as well as your Church. WWJD? Really, practically nothing of what we do as we add so many things that detract from “the reason for the season.” If you do such things, do more and do the other things less. One fellow wrote that we commit the sin of gluttony most on our holy days.
Take an honest evaluation of how much time, money and effort you put into things that really do nothing for Him, the birthday Boy. He told a rich man to give it all up to follow Him. While it is not a sin to be rich, is it right to go into debt and be more improvised to maintain a facade of wealth on His birthday? How whacked is that? He came to set us free, and the borrower is a slave to the lender.
If you want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars, invest it in souls and people that have needs instead of the many wants that break or get boring after a very short time ending up in the trash or back of the closet or bottom of a jewelry drawer. Some will at least end up in a resale store that supports a pregnancy center. Yet, the item may have cost $50 new and they may mark it at $10 making a $40 waste of money, but it will help a good cause.
We are a country of excess and extremes that are graphically reveal ed on all of our holidays/holy days. Find other ways to show love and bring joy that may actually be valuable the soul and bring more happiness than something from Neiman Marcus.
It is easier to give stuff and cash, but giving ourselves to Him and others is going to be in our account in Heaven while not breaking our bank account here. No hitch on a hearse, so change how you use your purse and that dangerous card. Teach your child that happiness is not in stuff. Don’t give them everything they want and make then spoiled, entitled brats that may never be content.
Dear poor parents/single parents, do not let this holiday make you feel like dirt because you cannot give your kids all they want or maybe nothing that they want. You love them and care for them all year. One day, not like like it is marketed to be will not hurt them. It means you can teach them contentment and what is really valuable, their salvation. The rest are just frilly details that mean nothing in eternity.
Be sure they know that you love them and He loves them and you will be richer than those in hock up to their nose or with presents up to their knees. Better to have an empty tree or no tree at all and have a heart full of love surrounded by those you love and who love you. If you think of it, that is all Jesus had on Incarnation Day. Why do we need more?
Since my birthday is September 30th and Scripture shows Him as being born during the Feast of Tabernacles, which is fitting since He tabernacled with us. I am going to celebrate Incarnation Day. I need to start planning now. I am going to dedicate the whole day to Him. I just looked and the 30th is on a Saturday, which would make my Messianic friends happy to do it on a Sabbath.
I may find a homeless person to feed/clothe, knock on doors seeking to find unbelievers to win and hurt sheep to heal and whatever else i can do, but it will all be Jesus focused as a true present to Him. I will ask Him what He would like me to do on His birthday and by His grace and power I will do it. I will not go into debt to do these things.
To paraphrase a CCM song, I’m wanting to find myself in the midst of You getting beyond the trappings, beyond the stuff. All that I need is to be with you and in the quiet hear your voice, I think that is the birthday present He really wants. That is the heart of worship we need to come back to as it is all about Jesus, not the madness and merchandise.
Keep it simple, Saint. Maranatha!
December 17, 2016
We have made Jesus a Gentile Messiah by separating Him from the Jewish context which He chose to come in the flesh. True, we are no longer under the Law, but we have deleted the Passover and He is the Passover Lamb. We substituted it with Easter which is full of pagan rituals. Should not celebration of the resurrection of the Passover Lamb be on Passover? We are commanded to remember His death as often as we would, but should not one of those times be tied to the actual event rather than a different ritual? It makes no sense. The early Church would not fast on the same day as the pagans so there would be no confusion, yet we have created two holidays incorporating things the early Church would have shunned altogether.
We created a holiday to celebrate His birth, which we were not commanded to do, on a date that is not biblical and again filled it with pagan rituals. We can ascertain His birth by studying the Word, but instead we go with the imaginations of men. If we really wanted to celebrate it wouldn’t have been better to use a date not tied to a pagan festival and actually celebrate it by giving Him gifts instead of to everyone else that we have to top each year? Thus we have even made His birthday a Gentile orgy format instead of a Jewish format by declaring a date not based on Scripture and partying more like the folks in the temples of Greece and Rome. Then we add another god that we lie to our kids about who is not quite omnipresent, but is omniscient and he brings his reward with him or his coal of judgment. If God does not share His glory with anyone, is it not an insult to drag in this myth to His birthday celebration?
If we are not careful, we could be creating a Jesus in our image rather than Jesus creating His image in us. Instead of seeking to win His people we have ostracized them. Paul was willing to go to Hell for them. After all, the Gospel is still to the Jew first and then to the Greek or Gentile. We are to provoke them to jealousy, not provoke them to anger. I think both holidays or holy days were created to cut the Jews out of the Church. It may have been a misunderstanding of some Scripture or it may well have been a deliberate act of Antisemitism. I opt for the latter, but either way, changing Jesus into a Gentile is just not right.
Even in our art, we portray Him as a Goy in Red and Yellow, Black and White versions, when He was a Jew. Scientists have now shown that there is only one color. We are all a shade of brown. Still, Jesus was a Jew so any pictures drawn should show Him as a Jew, but then again we really are not supposed to make any images of God. No matter what we paint, we have no idea of His exact features, so whatever we do is not Him. No, I am not a believer in the Shroud of Turin.
I stopped to help an elderly Black man who ran out of gas. He could not believe I was helping him since I was White. He stood at attention and said, “Now I know why they painted Jesus White!” I said they did not paint them correctly as Jesus was a Jew and he was amazed.
We may be Gentiles, but He was a Jew and we should keep Him and any holidays we celebrate based on His context and free of junk. I know that some will want to use Romans 14 and 15 to rebut me, but that was a whole different deal in many ways. At least the Jews had a good argument based upon the Old Testament. They could not grasp God abolishing so many things they practiced as a people for centuries. The Gentile could not see why they wanted to hold on to those things because the Gentiles did not have it in their culture. Hence the injunction let a person respect a day or not respect a day as everyday is the Lord’s day.
We are dealing with things that have no biblical basis at all. It is all stuff made up and turned into almost an idol for to challenge these things is to invoke wrath and shunning. It is obvious that the Reformation did not go far enough. We are to be people of truth and yet we tolerate in these two days things we would not tolerate any other day of the year. We tell our children to never lie and seek truth, yet we lie in the name of fun and sentimentality. If they lie to us can we really fault them since we lie the most on holy days?
While that is odd, it is even more odd that I learned about the things that ruined these holidays for me in bible college. I was taught to militate against all sorts of error/heresy by professors whose doctoral theses were up to two inches thick based on one problem in a partial verse. Yet, if I would have challenged dumping these days for all the error in their creation and implementation, I would have most likely been thrown out of college. These sacred cows are that sacred.
Yes, Christ is on even lost people’s minds at those times, but what Christ are they envisioning and what is there true understanding of the holidays? A group of kids was asked what they liked best about Christmas and they said the presents. Had it been about Easter, the answer may have been the candy or petting bunies. Even the Jews debate about having candy at the Passover time, but they are not shaped like rabbits and eggs. They are just candies that many feel mess up the solemness of the Passover or are just inappropriate. No symbolism, just candy. There are many times to give your kids candy so maybe leaving it out of something as serious, though joyous, a time as Passover is a wise choice. Almost thou makest me a Messianic Jewish believer, but they would probably kick me out for other issues. 😉
Anyway, my hope was to provoke some thought that maybe you never thought of before like me before I went to college to learn biblical truth. Shalom! Maranatha!
December 17, 2016
I have been rereading John Wesley’s journal and have come across many things that did not catch my eye on the first read. There is an interesting dialogue with an old Choctaw man named Chicali.
Wesley asked him what he was made for and he replied,
"He that is above knows what He made us for. We know nothing. We are in the dark. But white men know much. And yet white men build great houses, as if they were to live forever. But white men cannot live forever. In a little time, white men will be dust as well as I."
Chicali may not have known much of the life hereafter, but he did understand this life and the folly that most of us in the 1st World participate in. Indeed, we believe that ultimately everything will be destroyed with fire. So why spend most of our lives paying on a bigger building for the bonfire? Think small and have a smaller mortgage payment, less taxes and more money and time for things your family really needs, like your presence.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
Note that shelter is not even mentioned. I am not suggesting that we should move into tents or caves, but do you really need that ____ square foot house or could you do with far smaller? Must you adorn it with costly ornaments that will go to the trash or a resale shop when your heirs take over and see no value in what you have since it is not compatible to their tastes? Go to an estate sale sometime and see how cheaply many things are sold just to get rid of them. Keep it simple and easier on your heirs by living simply and put the money in the bank or better yet invest it in missions or charity. Those rewards are eternal and do not lose their value while escaping the tax men on all levels.
The same could be said for those who build church buildings that are like a Taj Mahal. We are in the New Testament and we are the temple of God. Even if He were still requiring a temple for the nation there would be only one, not thousands or hundreds of thousands. Might not the tithe be better spent on the mission, the message and the masses instead of mansions that often become mausoleums? They will not be here forever either and are just fancy bonfire material. As much as Aggies love bonfires, they would never use such costly materials.
The ones who suffered most during the Great Depression were the ones with so much to lose. They were the ones jumping out of windows because they did not know how they would live without their great wealth and stuff. The poor folks did suffer, but they were already poor and knew how to make do with less. They were usually more closely knit as a family and community. They would help each other and were very creative. One man who grew up on a farm at the time said that he did not even realize he was poor because very little changed after the Depression for him. It was the folks in town that lost their jobs, homes and cars that had it worse. They had to find kinfolk to take them in and move to big cities to find a job even though they hated city life.
There are many rumors about a huge economic crash coming. If that is true, it will be the folks with the larger incomes, houses and such that will feel the impact emotionally and mentally more than folks who are already poor or even homeless. The poor will adapt and survive as they have been doing for centuries. I am afraid many teenagers and others will have great difficulty surviving without cable and the Net let alone a cutback on other items. Because people are so far in debt, they will lose homes and cars. This will blacken their credit report and make it hard to regroup even after an economic recovery.
If a wise man sees the evil and avoids it, it would make sense to start downsizing now. Even if it doesn’t happen, getting out of debt will save you from stress that can cause all sorts of physical issues as well as maybe saving your marriage and your relationship with your kids. The Word says that debtor is a slave to he lender. Being free from slavery would do wonders for many Americans. Indeed, going back to our ancestor’s philosophy of paying cash for things would go a long way in making us prosperous.
Do we need to become like the Amish and forsake all modern conveniences? If you can do that, roll with it. They have much more money than “Englishmen” because they do not have to pay for electricity, cable, phone, Internet, car payments, insurance and routine maintenance and so on. There are no contractor fees as everyone helps everyone else build barns. As much as their lifestyle appeals to me, I am not sure I could downsize that much at my age. If the collapse comes, I may get to try that whether I like it or not.
We may not have to be that austere, but most of us could do with less and would be happier. I have heard many people talk about the days when they were not as prosperous as now saying they were happy back then. Speaking of prosperity, if you owe everything to the lenders they are prosperous, not you, and can take it all away from you in a heartbeat. One co-worker always said, “Live modern! Go in debt!” Well, modern ways are not always true progress and as in that phrase’s philosophy, unbiblical. When God prospers His people they are the lender, not the borrower. Indeed, look at the US. When we were more godly, we were the lending nation and now we are the borrower and all of our prosperity is really a facade. Christians are called to be givers and we cannot do as much when we are up to our necks in debt.
As goes the family, so goes the churches sinc families in debt cannot help churches that are crazy in debt and are so large or so small that a great deal of the giving goes into the building. The other process that is being pursued today is to remove tax exemption from churches as a secular nations sees them as useless. They want to expand their tax bases and since churches are not seen as contributing any real services to the community they should be taxed. In one city, there was a move to tax closets and such areas that were not directly involved in ministry. If the church had say a hundred square feet in such areas they would be taxed on that hundred square feet and I suspect they would using the higher corporate tax versus the residential rate. That was stopped, but you see how creative folks are becoming and pushing towards a goal. Indeed, as many issues are being made “hateful”, it would not take too long to have a church listed as a hate group and all exemptions taken away.
In essence, removing the tax exemption would be the way to close nearly every church in America as few would be able to handle the tax burden. Find out your church’s appraisal worth and then figure out the tax it would be charged. Then look at your budget. Could you handle it if local, state and federal taxes were assessed? What would you have to cut to survive, if you could cut enough? Would missions go? Most of the staff gone? Pastor’s salary cut in half? Would the building start to deteriorate because you could not keep up with repairs? Would people give less since they could not declare it on their taxes? Most, if not all, would have to fold. Indeed, they may lose the buildings to taxes. It might be wise to make all future church plants using portable buildings as that would lower the taxes just as sheds on skids are charged less than ones on a concrete foundation.
The upside of this would be that many churches would have to merge and spend less on stuff that is not important in the Kingdom. They may make new friends or learn to sit on the same pew as other people going to the same Heaven. How novel is that? They may learn to like different genres of music. The young may have to sit with the elder and the suit person with the blue jeans and cowboy hat person. You can sit next to an inked person without fear of it rubbing off on you and you may find they are an awesome brother or sister in Christ. Your wife and daughter have pierced ears so why shy away from someone who has a pierced eyebrow or navel? It is the same process as your lady’s ears. The only difference is location. Man, with all those possibilities maybe we should pray for the exemption to be removed. It could bring revival.
We will all be dust, if Jesus tarries. We may leave our money to people who will squander it and throw away our stuff, so let’s make it easier for them and downsize. Sell what you can and give away the stuff you have not used in years. You may then have room for the stuff in your house that you are paying to have stored. Really, in a year or so, much of what you have stored already has no profit value. The rent ate that up and it is worth less each month after that. If you have not checked on it for awhile, you may find rust, mold and moth have had a field day with it. The money you gain can get you out of debt so that when you see a need locally, you can give to it without a care. It then becomes an investment with eternal returns.
To those churches that are already struggling to keep the doors open, don’t. As good stewards, find another church that is not struggling and merge. Sell the property and give it to missions or the poor. Why wait and have to deal with all the trouble when you are down to the pastor and one family trying to dispose of it or take the risk of losing it to taxes or eminent domain depending on where it is located. Memories are nice and warm, but there comes a time to realize that the ride is over. For whatever reason, you are not growing and will not. God is concerned about people, not buildings. Maybe that building once held hundreds, but it is over. Your talents may be needed elsewhere in the Body outside of that building. Don’t wait for the hearse to get you to leave or the building to fall down. There is most likely a church of like faith in a very close proximity to you. If not, still leave the building behind and all its worries and meet in someone’s home. God blesses unity so a merger is the best move.
To those churches are not yet struggling, it would be wise to assess a worst case scenario and have a plan to survive. When planning your budget, be sure that most of it is going to the furtherance of the Gospel, not the comfort of the flock or the aspirations of the leadership for bigger and better. Members, keep your leadership accountable for wise spending. Do not be like the congregation who heard the pastor say how he was lead to build a 1.8 million dollar facility and then when finances got tight, he was called to another church out of state. Be sure it is God’s vision for your church and not man’s.
Seek God to provide the funds for a project and not go into debt. That is how God works. If He wants it, he provides for it. That is why Wesley once said, “If the poor build the church, God builds it. If the rich build the church, man builds it.” That has been true in many cases, but God does use the rich to do His floor plan, not man’s. It is not inconceivable since banks sell loans that a loan could be bought by an adversary that demands instant payment or foreclosure. Then it is time for a miracle or you are out the door. We need to be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves.
The Church has had it fairly easy in the last two hundred years and I fear that has led us as members and churches into follies that our brethren in other countries have not had the luxury to do. We will one day experience more persecution than we have in the last couple of decades. We may have a reprieve with the new administration, but not amnesty forever. Prepare now and it will be easier. Be lax like we have been since the 60’s and it will be very rough. The Native American lived simply because their focus was on needs. We need far less in our lives and churches, but we focus on wants thus losing sight of the mission. We act like Jesus will never come or that we are a business that keeps changing their labels and slightly modifying the contents to keep customers or increase price. Jesus actually turned more away than He drew because He dealt with truth and not just miracle feedings that satisfied the crowd’s bellies, but did not save their soul.
There are many questions that could be asked by, “If we are the Body…?” Some would be in the arena of why we do things and others why are we not doing things. It depends on if you know what you are made for and who made you. That will determine what you will do with your mortality and its temporal assets. Maranatha!!!
December 17, 2016
I have been rereading John Wesley’s journal and have come across many things that did not catch my eye on the first read. There is an interesting dialogue with an old Choctaw man named Chicali.
"If red men will learn the Good Book, they may know as much as white men. But neither we nor you can understand that Book unless we are taught by Him that is above: and He will not teach you unless you avoid what you already know is not good."
Indeed, this is the problem for many Christians. We do not walk in the light we have and yet what God to give us greater light and specific answers to our questions. There is no sense taking a class if calculus if we have mastered basic math skills.
Chicali then replied,
"I believe that. He will not teach us while our hearts are not white. And our men do what
they know is not good: they kill their own children. And our women do what they know is not good: they kill the child before it is born. Therefore He that is above does not send us the Good Book."
OUCH!!! Burned by a ‘pagan!” How many who claim to be followers of Wesley would be fine with abortion? Yet, here is a man that worships nature and the Great Spirit who created it that says it is evil to commit abortion and infanticide. Many other groups that call themselves Christian are not as wise as this Choctaw man and we have the good book that teaches against the shedding of innocent blood and there is no one more innocent than an unborn or partially unborn child.
Chicali says these are the actions of one who heart is not pure or clean. If we are washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Word and the Holy Spirit, how then can we support what God does not and even non-Christians condemn? He believed that God would not send His message to people who practiced such things. In this, he was wrong because God sent His Son and the Word to call sinners to repentance. We know that later in history some Native Americans willingly accepted the “Good Book”, but sadly many had it forced upon them and they later rejected it because of that and that sad testimony of those who called themselves Christian.
Paul spoke about Gentiles who kept the Law better than the ones who had the Law and the Prophets.
11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
While the conscience is not a 100% valid guide because of the Fall, there are many cultures that share similar beliefs of what is right or wrong and even some stories similar to the Bible. Not surprising since only eight got off the ark.
That fact that conscience is defiled shows why we are not all in 100% agreement and some people can do horrible acts with no pangs of conscience. Indeed, many commanders and guards during the Holocaust had no conscious because they swallowed the premise of evolution that we are just high tech apes with no greater authority than ourselves so what we deem right is right not what God deems right. They suppressed their conscience and seared it. Chicali was far more wise than those people whose great education and intellect only took them to the abyss. We were made in the image of God and though we are now a broken image, we still mirror Him in some places. The complete image is marred by pieces being missing and very wide cracks, but it is still there and the Holy Spirit can win the worst of us and restore us.
We have the Good Book and we need to reread it, not revise it to our will, but rather allow it to revise us to His will. If God can speak to the conscience of an old Choctaw man so that he could wisely assess his people, it is a sign of apostasy that we cannot hear Him when He speaks by the Word or in the still small voice.
11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Some are actually deaf because they are Christians in name, but are spiritually dead. Others are dull of hearing because the cares of this world keeps them from the Word or because they trust more in the rituals and commandments of men thus they do not search the Scriptures to see if their ministers are telling the truth. They have drank the Kool-Aid, so speak. Others are just too lazy as the word dull means in Greek and are happy to be saved from the fire and have no fire in their hearts for more.
Hence we have those who should know better not able to discern good from evil and teach others who may not even get the sincere milk of the Word, but rather a milk substitute. They will remain forever babes and unskillful. This may explain why so many Christians are cranky from persistent colic. It is far past time for Christians to put away the things of children and grow up. Get some some spiritual teeth and eat meat. If all you get at your church is milk, which may be sour, it is time to move on. Accept no substitutes in milk or meat. Dive into the buffet the Lord provides and allow the Holy Spirit to prepare the correct portions for you. Then you shall be teachers and warriors that men like Chicali would be willing to hear. Maranatha!
The Journal of John Wesley