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Friday
Oct312014

Are We Out Of Balance?

You have heard me many times say, that I have made a career out of noticing what is missing in ministry. Let me list a few things that I have predominately pointed out over the years.

  1. Prayerlessness: Our ministries, and our families, in general, lead lives that are not prayer oriented, but are more action oriented. Getting things accomplished, and operational, is more important than time spent in communicating with God.  Prayer is not a quick thank you Lord for this food, but it is again, a lifestyle of staying in God face about everything.
     
  2. A Lack Of Holy Spirit Guidance:  We have learned to organize, plan, and strategize so well, we often do it without a dependence on the Holy Spirit. In fact, today there are people telling us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased when the scriptures were canonized.  How foolish a thought, the days are more wicked and evil, so how much more do we need everything the Holy Spirit has to offer the Church in order to defend against it and aggressively be proactive in this anti-Christ world of ours?

  3. Biblically Illiterate:  Most Christians know little about the foundations of the Bible, the importance of Israel, the prophetic scriptures, and judgments of God, just to name a few.  The balance of teaching people to know how to love, and how to fight in the same sentence is missing.  We do not prepare believers for a world that is on our doorstep, because we preach what is popular, and acceptable.

  4. Worship as a Lifestyle: People think music is worship, or the style of a church service is worship, and yet God is looking for people who live out a style of worship that is daily, calling out to His name in trust and honor

  5. Leadership Structure: We have built ministries and churches around personalities, and not character. Personalities drive most of our ministries, and it is the gift that these personalities display, that is drawing people.  Now, there is a fine line here, because God gives gifts to people, to teach, lead and equip people to do the ministry, but those gifts were never intended to become the reason we support a ministry.  A gift is given by God’s grace to a person who is to use that gift to serve others, and not to become famous.  There should be a plurality of leaders who lead a congregation, made up of leaders of all ages, genders, and have a variety of spiritual gifts observable. I am not anti-pastor, I am cautious about a personality driven ministry.

  6. Family Dysfunction:  Marriages are more cultural than Biblical. Little time is given to prepare for a lifetime of relationship, and even less time is given to maintaining it. Few marriages have mentors, and experienced marriages to pattern their relationships after.  Parents take on more of a cultural view of parenting, and avoid some critical characteristics of godly families. Do candidates who are preparing for marriage know God’s standards for marriage, and do they know how to maintain a marriage relationship according to the Bible?   What about marriages already in trouble, are there forums of couples with good marriages where troubled marriages could go for advice and council?  (Not a counselor, but groups of good marriages where real advice is given from experience)
     
  7. True Fellowship:  We love the churches we attend until there is a problem, and then we divide up the spoils and start new churches. To divide a fellowship over secondary issues, or over personality conflicts is inconceivable by Biblical standards. (this does not include churches who violate scripture and need to be deserted)
     
  8.  Humility:  many ministers live closer to Narcissism, than their worldly counterparts. There is a sense of entitlement, an unconcerned for others, but an overreaching sense of privilege for themselves. Ministers begin to think they are anointed, yet, if missing humility, you are missing the grace as well.
     
  9.  Generational Disrespect:  there is a worldly attitude in the church that declares that age is a disqualifier for growth because older people don’t lend much to the dynamics of a growing church. Their perseverance and wisdom is often marginalized in favor of a more youthful agenda.
     
  10. Misguided Understanding of Ministry and Church:  there is a misconception about the definition of church and ministry, and how they relate to each other. For example, in some churches women are not allowed to teach men, yet, in a ministry outside of the local church, they can teach everyone. That implies there are various standards for the believers in Christ? Are we not all one, but have different functions? There is only one Church, and one set of rules that govern all believers, regardless of the forum in which they find themselves.

Okay, the question was asked, “Are We Out of Balance?”  Your assessment would be important to me, so let me know your thoughts, and concerns.

Again, I am not looking at examples in the Body of Christ that are exceptional, which I a sure there are many, but what I am observing are these ten that are the most common reasons why believers are out of balance.

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

 

Thursday
Oct302014

Examples are the Best Lessons

My wife and I have some close friends that teach us a lot about patience, and persistence by the kind of example they display in their daily lives. They have always incorporated a kindness to people that demonstrates a willingness to go the extra mile in pursuing relationships, even when those relationships are often hostile toward them.  The example learned of course, is that we see God at His best when we have persevered and God infuses Himself into the outcome.

I have another friend who has stomach cancer and has been in the process of dying for over a year.  It is a slow growing cancer, so he has had time to adjust to various changes in his body, as well as his acceptance that his days are really numbered. He is demonstrating to those who know him, how to die in a gracious manner, no anger, no regrets, he has accepted his death as an act of God.  The lesson learned, is that God is in control of our lives here on earth, and nothing happens to us without God being aware. God is always present, and nothing surprises Him about our lives.

His gracious attitude has touch all of us who meet with him every other week, because he continues to live life to the fullest, continuing to pursuing God with an open heart. Death is not getting the best of his life, he is using this time to live out his life better than he ever has, and it is a lesson I am watching in real time.

There are many lessons I am learning as I observe the examples around me. Many people get stuck in how they see themselves, they stop learning, exploring, and changing, afraid to trust God for His direction.  I love all the stories Jesus told making them into lessons from His day.  My favorite is the story of the Rich Young Ruler. Here was a guy who had it all, he was religious, well bred, wealthy, and yet he was not satisfied with who he was or what he had.  Jesus used him as an example to remind us that life is not lived in what you have, but in how you use it.  The Rich Young Ruler seemed to have everything, yet Jesus said he lacked something. That something was his unwillingness to serve God with all that he had. He is an example of many people who claim to know God, but refuse to serve Him with their whole being. The interesting part of this story for me was that Jesus did not trail after him convincing him he was making a mistake by walking away.  No one knows of course what happen to the Rich Young Ruler, but like so many people who life unfulfilled, and unhappy lives, they continue that way until they die.  Jesus gave this young man a way to be fulfilled, but his riches, reputation, even his religious practice, prevented him from leaving everything and following Jesus.

I wonder today, how much of your life is like the Rich Young Ruler?  Too many connections to this world to allow it all to go and in return follow Jesus unequivocally?  

Examples of amazing people are all around us, people who are not willing to allow anything in this world to deter them from giving everything to serve God. 

I want the patience of God, and the perseverance of God to rule my life, I hope these lessons from real people will also help you to start asking some life changing questions. Maybe start by asking what is preventing the life God intended you to live from happening?  

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

Tuesday
Oct282014

Wait For the Holy Spirit


 4And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;  5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” -Acts 1

There is the age old argument about the timing of when the Holy Spirit shows up in a persons life. Does it happen when they believe, or later in some kind of secondary experience?  Here the early disciples were told to remain in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. This baptism was essential for them to do the work God had in mind, which was giving birth to what we call the "Church". (the called out ones) It appears that these disciples, even though they walked with Jesus, and believed in Him, were still not equipped to fulfill the task of taking His message to the world. Today however, is known as a post-Christian world, because society has moved passed the Bible in it's quest for truth and relevance. It is also true, there are places where the gospel is being received, but it is in regions where the gospel has never been before, like the Muslims communities of the Middle East.  However, in Europe, and the United States, there is a movement to stifle the gospel, keeping it relegated to a religious observance in a church building, but not to be openly practiced in the marketplace or in the public square.  The problem with that trend, is that the Christianity of the Bible was never designed to remain in a building, or within the parameters of a denominational structure, it was designed to be practiced everywhere.  That is what Jesus told His followers to do, "go into the world and make disciples."   You don't make disciples preaching at the same people week after week, and promoting programs within your own constituency, we are only self assuring each other of our beliefs. 

What I have discovered over the years is that we have relied upon other means to attract people to our message, including changing the gospel message by watering it down from the original call for repentance. We have seen how various church trends have tried all kinds of compromises to make the message more acceptable to our culture, but by doing so they diminish the role of the Holy Spirit.  With a diminishing role of how we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our churches, the tendency then is to institute more of our own initiatives to affect ministry out comes. When you read through the Book of Acts, you see the spontaneous acts of power, that affected change in the lives of thousands of people. The disciples didn't go through a school of evangelism, nor take years of schooling to become a certified member of the clergy to develop a ministry. They were baptized in the Holy Spirit, that resulted in the acts of faith that brought healing to the sick, preached the gospel with effective results, and saw miracles that defy reason. They also had an urgency about their work, thinking that Jesus would return soon, so they dedicated their lives to the proliferation of the gospel to their generation.  

Recently, my wife and I spent some time in San Francisco, and visited the area known as Haight Ashbury. It was the area where the hippie movement of the 60's had it's genesis. Today the area has been cleaned up and modernized, but there still is some reminiscent stores and street people that are throw backs to that era.  I was a product of that age, and I realized that the 60's love powered hippies didn't do us any favors. That generation shifted us away from tradition to experimentation, and from Christianity to Eastern religions. It was out of this love power era that one of the greatest youth revivals sprang up. The Holy Spirit was active in bringing tens of thousands of young people out of drugs and free love, to knowing the love of God, and the power of the cross. It was a time of great harvest for God, and it was a sovereign move of God that was not engineered by any church or person. It is what is needed again, a move of God that is drawing people away from themselves and toward the love of God that brings wholeness to a person, and to a community.

My reading journey through the Book of Acts has reminded me of how we need to depend upon the Holy Spirit for how we live out our Christian lives. Believing in Jesus is just the beginning of what God wants to do through your life by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Keeping it honest and truthful....K

 

 

 

Sunday
Oct262014

Leadership Thoughts From Judges

I am in California watching Daystar TV network, and heard David Barton talk about leadership. I thought it was worth a mention today. He talked about leadership from Judges 9.

 But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’  10 And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’  11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’  12 And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’  13 But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’  14Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’  15 And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’

David Barton went on to say that the thorn bush, (bramble) based upon its value compared to the fruit trees etc, is not a good choice for a leader.  Yet, Barton said, that is exactly what we have in the leaders in Washington today. 

I thought his comments were appropriate as we look at what kind of leaders we have chosen today.  Are they leaders who stand up for anything, or are they leaders who placate to the trends of the day? 

Even in the church, we have moved to a system of putting people into leadership positions who have money, fame, or influence to serve as our Elders and council leaders. Is this the standard for leadership in the church?  Not according to the Apostle Paul.

 

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.  2Therefore  an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  3not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,  5for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?  6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.  7Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Looking at these qualifications, it is all about reputation, self control, being respectable, honorable, able to teach, not given to money, and having a strong in reputation in the community and with family.

All of these qualifications have to do with the character of a person, and it is these characteristics that we need to be looking for in any candidate coming up in this falls election. Now, I know that these are qualifications for elders and pastors for the church, but I am proposing they are good for any kind of leadership, because they requiring that a person have good traits of character.  We don't need more leaders in our state legislatures, and in Washington who like to spin the truth, and cover up agenda's that are not honest. I don't trust government because they are dishonest, untrustworthy, liars, and want more control over our lives than is appropriate. All anyone has to do is to scroll through the past four years to be reminded of all the scandals this administration has created. Even better yet, you can go back to the Clinton years, and the Monica Lewinski days, when a president of the United States acted sexually inappropriately in the White House.  Now he is stumping around the country as a rock star, trying to shore up the Democratic candidates for the election. Clinton has no godly character, and he is a disgrace to this great nation, and Americans soon forget about his lack of character.  Is this what America wants, tumble weeds as leaders?  What happen to the great leaders America has grown, the fruit trees, the giant red woods, the great elms that I know are in this great country? Perhaps we could say that Americans don't care so much about character anymore, because they keep electing political leaders who do not display it. 

I do not have a lot of hope for America, I am sorry, but it's time to be honest, and truthful.  We have a tolerant society that has no understanding of right and wrong, and in fact they have been able to convince people that right is wrong, wrong is right, in fact they do not know how to do what is right.

Amos 3:10

 10“They do not know how to do right,” declares the LORD,
“those who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds.”

  

The sign of our times is an era of a lack of character, leadership that represents more of the bramble weed, than the great trees of the forest, and it is all stems from the fact we have forgotten God. 

 

Keeping it honest and truthful....K

Wednesday
Oct222014

The Cycles Of A Nation

http://www.ucg.org/united-states/life-cycles-empires-lessons-america-

Let me summarize:

The Cycle Of A Nations

1. The age of pioneer.....vision, passion, simplicity, self rule

2. The age of conquests.....expansion, development, growth

3. The age of commerce.......wealth and influence

4. The age of affluence.....leisure and pleasure

5. The age of intellect.....self reliance and arrogance

6. The age of decadence.....Tolerance and acceptance

7. The age of decline and collapse......greater amount of government rule and law

This is the observation of a sociologist, yet it is true.  It parallels how human nature works, and even God told Israel that once they became prosperous, not to forget Him.


 

Deuteronomy 8:11-14

11“Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today,  12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them,  13and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied,  14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,

Can't get any more specific than that!  

Prosperity does take away the reliance on God, and the more educated, and self reliant we become, we feel we don't need God anymore.  I have watched the arrogance of the educated, always thinking they have the answers to the dilemma's we face. Yet with all the education, and affluence we have in America, we haven't fixed what is wrong with us.  Look at the public school system, totally in shambles, and you would think the educated would at least be more effective in fixing the one thing they believe in, the education of our kids.  We have one of the highest standards of living in the world, yet we have more food shelves, and food stamps being used than ever in the history of this republic. So, what's the problem?  We have affluence and intellect, yet we can't get our heads out of the sand of our selfish pursuits to save our souls. Why? Because we have forgotten God and His commandments in our lives.  We don't pay attention to the eternal, it's all about getting mine now, look at me, look how important I appear, and it's all about the selfie generation today.  However, at the end of the day, we are not happier, nor are we more satisfied, and we are no closer to the stage of fulfillment than before we got all famous, and wealthy. 

These cycles eventually set a people up to allow a ruling class of government the right to control everything from childcare to education, to health care, to the censorship of the freedom of speech to the ability to own property. Look at how much the government controls our lives now, and every year there are more laws passed to control even more sectors of our lives. Why? Because the government is convinced the majority of Americans are too stupid to govern themselves, they need governance for every aspect of their lives.  Well, I hate to admit it, but there is some truth to that, even though I hate government intervention into our private lives. The social service agencies across the land are overwhelmed by the amount of abandonment of children by their parents.  School teachers will tell you how many kids come to school hungry, tired, and unprepared for a day of learning. They are so poor they have to be provided backpacks, school supplies, the very necessities of student life. I don't blame the students, they are just the victims of a system in decline.  God has turned us over to the pursuits of our hearts, and we are falling into place with all the civilizations that have gone before us, whose society declined because they abandoned God. 

Keep that in mind the next time you watch all the terrible things happening in the news.  We have wars, turbulence in the weather, pestilences, and hatred everywhere, it's all in what we have created through our affluent and intelligent culture. 

Keeping it honest and truthful...K

 

 

 

 

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