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!