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Saturday
Jul092011

For Those Who Lead

One of the distinctive aspects of prophets is correction. Prophets came to the leaders of Israel with a message that generally told them to repent.  I suppose that is why we don’t like the true prophets of today either.

Here is a sample of what a prophet would say from Zechariah 10:2-3

2For the household gods utter nonsense,
and the diviners see lies;
they tell false dreams
and give empty consolation.
Therefore the people wander like sheep;
they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.
 3 “My anger is hot against the shepherds,
and I will punish the leaders;
for the LORD of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah,
and will make them like his majestic steed in battle.

The people were idol bound, carelessly mingling the culture of their day with the practice of worshipping God.  It is a common dilemma among the faithful. How do we keep ourselves from incorporating too much of the culture into our lives, while at the same time not ignorant of the culture so we can reach it with our message of the gospel.  A fine line at times, but shepherds who know God can help us define the lines that honor or dishonor God. Today shepherds are often either afraid to identify that line, or they are ignorant of any lines at all.  In the above passage we sense God’s displeasure with leaders who never identify the lines for the people. The people wandered while the shepherds were silent.  Today we have a similar problem.  Leaders won’t address the issues where the lines are distinct between what is wrong and what is right.  However, God does draw the lines, and they are thick, recognizable, lines that serve like road guards that protect us from going over the cliff.  The Hebrew scriptures, (Old Testament) has so much to say about lines, but our Christian culture seems to ignore those lines by placing them into a category of old news. This is one of the reasons we decided to help believers understand the Hebraic Roots of the scripture by establishing a conference that addresses a perspective of God we don’t hear much about today.

Hebraic Roots Conference

The Hebraic Conference is designed as a reminder of God’s whole council, His entire story is important in these days of uncertainty.  This conference will share some insights into the nature of God we often forget today.  It will also challenge you with the importance of issues like Israel, culture and context, prophecy, and the unchanging nature of God. Our future is defined by what is recorded in the past, so please consider your attendance to this years’ Hebraic Roots Conference called, “Reconnecting the Branches to the Roots.”

So register for this free conference, October 13-15, 2011 by going to www.hebraicrootsconference.com

Registration is required because space is limited.

Keeping it honest and truthful...I

Thursday
Jul072011

You Want To Do What?

Mission statements, are a modern day creation that helps people understand what you do.  Is it essential? Yes and no. If you're Apple computer I think people know what you do, so the answer could be no. (in fact Apple's mission statement is a paragraph in length)  However if you are a small company with an innovative name, you might want to elaborate some on what your company does.  The internet has changed the way we promote ourselves because the audience is now global, and even if you are well known in your community as to what you do, people in China, or India have no clue.  However, I have always wondered why Christian organizations /ministries have mission statements, because I think it was obvious from the life of Christ what our mission should be.  

Jesus had two statements:

1. His Mission: Matthew 5:17

 17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

2. Our Mission: Matthew 28:19

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

He came to fulfill God's will, the promise of a Messiah/Savior

He sent His followers out to do one thing.....make disciples.

Now this is obviously quite simple, but that's what I like: Give to me straight, and simple. 

As believers in Christ our mission statement is Matthew 28:19, and it is the basis for why any church, or ministry exists.

As a believer my role as a follower of Christ is to develop my life around making disciples. Now here is where it gets tricky, because as I peruse the mission statement world of ministries on the internet I found the following.

 As a congregation, we reaffirm what the church in all ages and places has proclaimed as a foundation of the Christian faith — the Apostles Creed:

MissionAdvancing God’s Kingdom everywhere, one person at a time.

We are Jesus people.

Now, all three of these brief statements had more to say in clarifying their beliefs, but why is there a need to go beyond the Mission Statement Jesus gave us in  Matthew 28:19?  Okay, we all do ministry a little different, so what's wrong with clarifying those differences?  Nothing, but why not start with Matthew 28:19 and then state your unique identity in how you will fulfill it with your unique brand of ministry? 

Does God care how we do ministry, or how we describe our ministry?  Probably not, I am sure He is more concerned about how the ministry is honoring Him, and if it is effective in doing Matthew 28:19. So what my point.

My point is simple, the design of the church is to make disciples, period. We may all do it uniquely, and differently, but at the end of the day, did we make disciples? 

Most of my Christian adult life I spent trying to support the programs of the church, most of which were not really formulated around disciple making. Its easy to be fooled into thinking that activity in a church or a ministry is making disciples.  The question has to be asked, "are we teaching what Jesus taught us to teach?"  Is the foundation of our discipleship, based upon the criteria for being a disciple, I think that's where we have to start. 

Mark 8:34

 34And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

 This is a battle cry of the disciple, anything less is not discipleship. I believe the we must get back to the basics of discipleship, and in so doing, we will once again discover our purpose as followers of Christ. 

Keeping it honest and truthful......K

Leonard Ravenhill was a powerful evangelist and author who wrote about the effects of no disciple making. This clip is a powerful reminder of what we have lost in the modern church today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejDsuBBvy0g


 

Wednesday
Jul062011

To Whom Much Is Given, Much is Required

Recently someone called me a prophet. I wasn't sure how to take that, since I have never seen myself as a prophet or function in that gifting. I suppose anyone who studies God's Word and proclaims it's message can be considered a prophet because you are speaking on behalf of God, using His Word. In fact, there are two definitions of a prophet.

1. A prophet is one who speaks, or preaches Gods Word this is called forth-telling

2 A prophet is one who speaks about what will happen, this is called foretelling

In either case, you are speaking God's word.  The office of the prophet is always one of correction, so in either of the two definitions, there is always an element of correction. Most people take a prophet to mean one who predicts the future, but most prophetic words spoken today are words that are preached, instructing God's people in how to live out their lives on His behalf.  Observation is an important element of a prophets life, being able to discernment the times and speak into the lives of people. Many prophets are speaking today, but little is changing.  Change must begin with how people are receiving God's word. The prophet Hosea said this:

Hosea 10:12

 12 Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the LORD,
that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

Fallow ground defined: of farmland,  plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation 

The seed of God's Word needs a fertile plowed ground in order to take root and grow. The ground in which you plant God's Word is critical for the kind of results that honors God.  Jesus told us about the parable of the sower, who sowed the Seed of God's Word in four kinds of soil. 

Hard soil: no way for the seed to take root, it is immediately removed by predators 

Weedy soil: too many distractions, cares of this world (culture) are too impressive and chokes out anything that might grow and represent God.

Rocky soil: can't grow roots so the pressure of life uproots the godly aspects of God.

Good Soil: ground that is receptive, cultivated and fertile for growing the seed of God's Word in your life.

As we observe the conditions in our world, more people are talking about the uncertain times, the craziness that is happening all over, and a lack of purpose that has permeated so many lives. What should be our course of action be as believers?  Care for the soil of your heart.   

God has sown into our lives countless seeds of truth, but the end result of His planting will depend on how well it takes root in your heart. The seed doesn't change, it is the same forever, and all it needs is a good environment to take root and grow. 

The only way you will survive the uncertain times is to place a foundation of God's Word beneath your feet, and allow it to grow so you become a person who speaks on behalf of God.  This can only happen if the soil of your heart will allow the seed to grow deep roots in your heart, and the culture (weeds) doesn't silence you from speaking the truth. Spiritual survival in an age of deception can only happen through God's Word. 

Keeping it honest and truthful......K

The late prophet Leonard Ravenhill tells us what is needed in the church today

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_EaKJYz5x0

Tuesday
Jul052011

God's Reputation?

Does God care about His Name? Of course He does.  One of the 10 commandments says, "Don't take the Lord's name in vain."  In other words, don't ascribe to God, or to attach something to God that doesn't honor Him.  Gods reputation is on the line when it comes to His promises made to Israel.  Those promises are as a solid on God's part as the day those promises were made. Time and the unfaithfulness of people do not destroy or invalidate God's promises.  God gave His word, and His Word is even more important (or higher) than His Name. (Psalm 138:2)  That's the beauty of God's Faithfulness, He keeps His end of the bargain regardless of how His people behave. This is the assurance we all have when we trust in the promises God made to us in His Word.  Here is an illustration from Psalm 106:8

8Yet he saved them for his name's sake,
that he might make known his mighty power.

The Psalmist was making a reference to God's provision at the Red Sea by saving Israel and killing all of the Egyptian solders. He did so not because Israel was so righteous, but He was protecting His Name by exhibiting His power over the circumstances. God continues to be faithful to us because of the promises made in Christ Jesus. This means that our unfaithfulness doesn't remove the blessings of Christ.  However, it might mean that we may be disciplined by Christ, but our privileges received by faith aren't removed the first time we find ourselves slipping into sin. This is not an excuse to sin, but it is an argument for God's faithfulness to His Word. Paul the Apostle writes in Romans, "where sin abounds, grace abounds more."  God is protecting His promises by grace, because law would require a nullification of the promise once there was a violation of the promise. However, His grace protects His Name, and no matter how prolific the violation becomes, there will be abundant grace to cover it in Christ Jesus. 

This is why Israel is such an important study today.  Even though they do not believe in the Messiah Jesus, many Jews have not entered into covenant with Him, yet God is still faithful to bless Israel.  It's to the Jew first and then the Gentile, as Romans 1:16 proclaims, all because God is faithful to the promises made to Israel's forefathers. It is in these promises that Israel will stand against all odds in todays world, and be made into a country that will support the returning King of the Jews. One of my Messianic friends says, "if God isn't faithful to His promises to Israel, how can we be assured He will be faithful to the promises to the Church?" 

God has a reputation to protect through the promises He had made, because His Name is at stake.  Jesus made a promise that He would return, and that promise is supported by His reputation.  It might be today, are you ready?  Watch this link from Franklin Graham

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhNEWvphuJE

Keeping it honest and truthful.....K

Monday
Jul042011

Does Our Freedom Bring Us to Repentance?

The Psalmist had a few thoughts about themselves as a people, as he reflected on the history of the nation.

Psalms 106:6

6Both we and our fathers have sinned;
we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.

This was a fair assessment for Israel as a nation to look back throughout it's history to see where it had been, and what it had done. If you read the entire Psalm you begin to sense that repentance was fueling the Psalmist as he wrote. 

Can't help but wonder on this 4th of July, as we put out the flags and watch the fireworks in celebration of the freedom this country stands for, is there even a hint of repentance? Repentance for what you might ask?  Repentance for a nation who might have misused it's freedom of liberty to wander away from the very God who gave it the mantle of freedom as reflected in the sloan, by the people and for the people?  All authority is God's authority, and He sets governments up, and He tears them down.  God allows the evil governments to co-exist until the great harvest comes at the end of time.  Jesus explained this in the parable of the wheat and tares, and even though His parable was about the righteous having to deal with the unrighteous in disguise, it still has a parallel to why God allows evil in the world. Every government and people group will be judged as a nation as to how they have used the authority God gave them to rule their people. Many of us believe the parable in Matthew 25 is a picture of the judgment of nations who have refused to bless Israel as Genesis 12:3 warns.

However, as a nation, on this 4th of July holiday, are there deeds of the past, or present that we need to repent from? I can think of many a few:

  • Prayer taken out of schools
  • Abortion
  • Hollywood and the entertainment business
  • Homosexual agenda for same sex marriage
 

As I look at this list, it is based upon what God's Word says about these issues. Culture has worked hard to unravel the Bible's standards on morality, and today these moral issues are considered to be freedoms. I am quite sure we can make the list much longer, but in a small way it reminds me how far we have strayed from the meaning of the word freedom. God is no longer in any equation of our cultural life, and we lose ground every year to the anti-Christian crowd who wants to take all Biblical standards and replace them with standards of what culture wants. The short sightedness of this kind of freedom will only bring more heartache to a culture gone astray from the Creator and His Word. Re-read Psalm 106 and see the pain Israel brought upon itself because they wanted to find their own standard of freedom, away from God's Word.  

May God have mercy upon us as a nation, because I believe we have misused the freedom of liberty God gave to us as a people, and we have gone astray from Him. 

Keeping it honest and truthful on this 4th of July holiday.


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