Follow the promptings of your heart rather than the desires of your flesh.
The King James Version of the Bible (you know, the one with all the thees and thous) uses the word flesh to describe our sinful natures. The Bible says, “Those who are still under the control of their sinful nature [or flesh] can never please God” (Romans 8:8). The Bible uses the word heart to describe the center of our character and will. It doesn’t say, “Love the Lord your God with all your flesh,” but rather “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Deut. 6:5).
When we realize and act upon the fact that Jesus has freed us from a “life that is dominated by sin” (Romans 7:24), we are free to follow our “heart’s desires” (Psalm 37:4). When our hearts are pure, God will fill them with His desires and prompt us to do what He wants us to do, “For God is greater than our hearts” (1 John 3:20).
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:4
It comes as no surprise to discover that churches hurt people. The surprise comes when OUR church hurts US. Somehow, churches that dish out pain are reserved for those people, in those cities, over there. Not on our turf.
And then it happens.
We take a five week break, and no one from the church staff team contacts us.
We serve in children’s ministry, faithfully every month for two years. And when we ask for a well-deserved break, we are given a guilt trip instead of a pat on the back.
We preach and teach our hearts out, week in and week out, and watch as good people make a stampede for the back doors because the preaching or teaching isn’t “deep” enough.
Church people hurt people.
Can I get an amen? And when we are hurt by churches – whether it’s by people in the pews, staff team members, or leadership boards and committees who question our character – we must do two things.
First, we must visit our pain. This will feel like an extended visit with our in-laws, because it is a time for answering hard questions. During our visit, we must have the courage to ask why we have been hurt so badly. Did we place unrealistic expectations on a people? Did we think we were more important than we turned out to be? Were we misunderstood? Did we feel like our hopes and dreams were squelched? Was there a legitimate bait and switch? Did we keep quiet for too long? Did we remain the squeaky wheel for too long? Is it really all their fault, or is there something we did wrong?
For me, this visit lasted the better part of one year. At one point, in the Summer of 2008, I honestly thought I was done.
There’s a second thing we must do. With Braveheart courage, we must end the visit we’ve established with our pain. This has been, after all, only a visit. We have walked in. We have sat down. We have cried honest tears. And now, we stand up, and we walk back out the door.
Most hurting church people refuse this part of the process, for it is perhaps the most difficult part of living in honest Christian community. It’s too easy not to forgive the church. It gives many of us an excuse never to go back.
And we take it. We choose to hate those people instead of forgiving them. And “hate” is not too strong a word for this. We know that from our experience.
The Apostle John picked up his pen toward the end of his life, and wrote the following to a splintered group of church people who had hurt each other – divided over a theological issue called “Gnosticism” – and who had become bitter and resentful as a result…
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him” (1 John 2:10-11).
When I am hurt by the church, and I choose to hold onto that hurt like a precious family heirloom – without forcing myself to go through the long, arduous process of healing and restoration – I will, by default, become a bitter, resentful person. I will “not know where I am going because the darkness has blinded me.” Been there? Me too.
I don’t want to be a Christian living in darkness. What’s the point of that?
For me, my journey out of my pain has involved really spending time with God and studying His Word. Learning what the church is all about and actively making steps to change the way we think, which in most cases causes the hurt. While that decision isn’t right for everyone, it’s been my way out of the darkness, and into the light.
Don’t allow the pain that someone forces upon you draw you away from God. Hurt is real, but so is He (God). The hurt, as bad as it can feel is only a tool that God uses to develop you, if you allow Him too. Grow through the pain!
Thank you, it was meant to be! You hurt me; but you couldn’t break me. You talk about me; but you couldn’t change the truth. You lied on me; but you couldn’t steal my integrity. Your efforts made me a stronger and better man; but it wasn’t your intensions. I forgave you; but can you admit and forgive yourself?
“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46)
This world is dark as midnight; Jesus has come that by faith we may have light, and may no longer sit in the gloom which covers all the rest of mankind.
Whosoever is a very wide term: it means you and me. If we trust in Jesus we shall no more sit in the dark shadow of death, but shall enter into the warm light of a day which shall never end. Why do we not come out into the light at once?
A cloud may sometimes hover over us, but we shall not abide in darkness if we believe in Jesus. He has come to give us broad daylight. Shall He come in vain? If we have faith we have the privilege of sunlight: let us enjoy it. From the night of natural depravity, of ignorance, of doubt, of despair, of sin, of dread, Jesus has come to set us free; and all believers shall know that He no more comes in vain than the sun rises and fails to scatter his heat and light.
Shake off thy depression, dear brother. Abide not in the dark, but abide in the light. In Jesus is thy hope, thy joy, thy Heaven. Look to Him, to Him only, and thou shalt rejoice as the birds rejoice at sunrise, and as the angels rejoice before the throne.
I remember when I was a little boy and my father took us on a family vacation to Ruby Falls. I remember being in a cave and they turned the lights out. A voice came over the speaker and said if you stayed in this dark for too long you would go blind. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do know that so many Christian walk in darkness for so long when they see the light it blinds them. Like waking up in the morning and someone turns on a bright light.
Abide in the light of our Savior, so when someone tries to shine the light on you the light of God leaves them as deer staring into headlights.
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless–that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8–9 MSG
In Other Words
In summary, God wants us to be agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble. It gives God no pleasure when we become obsessed with getting even, behave like put-down artist, or become champions of sarcastic word wars. We are called to be different. We are to bless, not curse. When we bless others, even in adverse circumstances, we also receive blessings. Bless and be blessed, that’s God’s way.
ü God wants us to get along with grumpy people
ü He wants us to return sarcasm with sympathy, distain with empathy
ü Jesus wants us to be loving and compassionate, even when surrounded by hate
ü Our Father is not happy when we waste time in getting even or playing “pay-back”
ü He is not pleased when we put others down instead of lifting them up
ü God winces when we willingly become bows for poisoned arrows of sarcasm
ü Jesus empowers us to be different
ü Our Father expects us to both bless and be a blessing to others
ü When we bless each other, then surely we are being blessed
Questions and Thoughts to Aid Digestion
Have you ever launched a counter-attack against sarcasm? Were you happy with the results?
How much do you grow in the Lord when you have vindictive or spiteful thoughts?
Which seems more natural, to turn our cheek, or to slap theirs?
How often are you caught in the act of being a blessing to someone else?
Because God expects us to be meek, does that mean we should be weak?
“Success” does indeed have its rewards. Therefore the temptation to parade the accouterments of achievement in front of others in order to garner their admiration is almost irresistible! After all,
“If you‘ve got it, FLAUNT IT!“ (But subtly, of course.)
Let’s just admit that it’s hard to be humble when you’re soooo good!
God is not against success. But He is against pride. And the pride that often accompanies our success can indeed be seductive.
Take for example the experiences of:
“But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God… “ (2 Chronicles 26:16)
“After Rehoboam‘s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the Lord.“ (2 Chronicles 12:1)
“Jeshurun grew fat… filled with food… heavy and sleek. He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior.“ (Deuteronomy. 32:15)
Because “SUCCESS” IS A SEDUCTIVE MISTRESS we would be wise to heed sage old King Solomon — who himself was seduced by his success — when he prayed:
“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?‘ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.“ (Proverbs 30:8, 9)
QUESTION: How well are you handling your “success” in the eyes of the Lord Jesus?
- Is He pleased as He observes you, His humble, self-sacrificing, and gracious servant? Or:
- Is He grieved by a pride-ridden life that is locked on to spiritual cruise-control?
The problem is that a lot of us are in spiritual cruise control. We are not pursuing God. We are not following after righteousness. The Christian life is like a greased pole: either you are climbing or slipping. How about you? Are you climbing? Are you growing? Are you maturing? Or are you going backward? It is time for us to use what God has given so we can go out and do some serious spiritual four-wheeling.
Sam and Jean had a hellish marriage.
With a history of promiscuity, personal insecurities, etc., etc., both brought excess baggage into the relationship that contributed toward constant
conflict. Both however, had recently become followers of Christ and were committed to living out their marriage vows His way.
That was twenty years ago. Today I was on the phone with Sam as he mused over the fact that he and Jean had become “best friends.”
It seems to me there are several reasons for this remarkable transformation:
1. Both were willing to humble themselves and seek out competent and godly counsel to help them identify and root out the origins of their problems:
“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” (Proverbs 11:14)
2. Both were committed to spiritual growth: Consistent times of prayerful meditation upon God’s Word:
“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.
Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Jos. 1:8)
3. Both surrounded themselves with godly people to whom they chose to be accountable; people from whom they gained supportive strength:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16) (See 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11; Hebrews 12:12-15)
4. Both were committed to persevering through their problems. In their minds divorce was never an option. Thus, they chose to face, rather than deny
or ignore the critical issues:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) (See Romans 5:3 ; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Peter 3:8-11)
Over the years, I have met few couples who did not face daunting challenges in their marriage. I have come to believe that marital success or failure
is determined not by the size of the problems, but by whether or not the couple is willing to face and deal with the problematic issues, whatever the pain, whatever the cost.
Living as we do in a crybaby world “if it feels good do it” society where marriage vows often read, “as long as we both shall love,”
instead of “till death do us part,” we need to comprehend the fact that God hates divorce, and only granted it because of people’s hardness of heart. (Malachi 2:16; Mark 10:2-9)
QUESTION: Are you demonstrating your commitment to your marriage by taking whatever steps are biblical and necessary to resolve the difficult
issues that inevitably could destroy it? If not, why not?
THOUGHT: If you applied these principles and biblical truths to every area of your life, what would the outcome be?
Abraham Lincoln said “I have come to realize that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
This morning tell your body and soul that I am happy, healthy, and feel great! Speak to your world and create it as man was originally intended to do.
It seems that whatever we say is what we settle for.
Speak to your mountain today and see it removed. Doubt not and simply believe you are created as an agent for change in this world.
Proverb 23:7 says “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
To change your circumstance, change your thinking! To change your thinking, change your words!”
While people look for better methods, God looks for better people. Choose to believe God today, choose to be happy today!
Life is too short and tomorrow is not promised, make every day the best day of your life.
I am praying for a mountain moving experience in your life today.
We live in a lost world, a world more frightening than anything Steven King could have imagined. Its fearsomeness lies not in prehistoric monsters, but in the inhabitants who have turned away from their Creator and rejected the only Redeemer who could rescue them from their spiritual sickness. Disconnected from the God of grace, human beings live in disgrace, choosing to become their own gods. Burdened by their sins, they seek relief from the consequences of their actions but continue to do the very things that enslave them.
Yesterday as my wife and I sit in the gymnasium waiting for our younger daughter’s musical performance to begin. I look over and notice my wife crying. Our other daughter had given her an obituary of a person she knew. I understand the intense sorrow she was feeling. She was crying because of the physical deaf, but there is the deaf of a spiritual man that I moan for everyday. There are so many Christian in a quest to find themselves in church often die a slow and painful deaf. This leads to a religious experience in which the God of the Bible is thought to be nothing more than whispers in the wind, a voice cling in the desert, or an opinion that can be easily ignored.
Alienated from God and His laws of living, they live their lives the way they want, unashamed of their double-mindness and lack of faith. Like people who have deliberately spread the AIDS virus, they justify their search for self-satisfaction with rationalizations such as, “It’s my body. I can do with it as I please.” They are disconnected from God and others. There is so much similarity to the church today. Instead of truly loving people, they use them as objects for their satisfaction, tools for their self-satisfaction. God’s will is replaced with the will to pleasure self: “If it feels good, (like Nike) just do it.” Most of what is done on Sunday morning in church is a stroke of the feelings, the pew sitters want to feel good and the pulpit pimps want to live good. Morality is lost in a sea of relativism, and as Paul said, “The whole creation groans” Romans 8:22
Can you hear the groaning of our lost world? Listen to the cries of young girls with unwanted pregnancies, the result of a search for love and acceptance, a search for their lost selves. Most are the victims of religious church folks, who found more pleasure in serving in the church building or the pastor than loving and teaching at home. Listen to the angry, bitter words spoken by a couple who once vowed to love, honor, and respect one another. Listen as selfish demands obscure their recognition of each other’s needs. This is my personal testimony, church, pastor and I almost destroyed my marriage. It is so easy to get caught up in the ministry as we call it, which is really a stroking on man; that you lose things that are really important to you and God. My old pastor would always tell me that my wife was going to destroy the ministry and that she didn’t love me. Why? Because she refused to buy stock into what I had been sold from the man I believed was walking with God. The truth of it all she should have been the ministry’s objective.
Listen to the moans of the drug addicts, the homeless and the downcast. Listen to the excuse of the overworked, the driven, the dishonest all of whom the church tries to fix by having programs for, feeding once a week or casting demons out of. The church as we see it today has lost its biblical roots as the first century Christians laid the foundations for the Church. Listen to the groans of the world.
But listen also for a Voice of hope. In the middle of the chaos, His Voice can still be heard, saying, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save and to save what was lost” Luke 19:10
Some of us heard this Voice. In this lost world, we have been found. We admitted that the restlessness of our souls can be stilled only by a return to our God. We have discovered our need for God and have given up our sins for His way – a better way, based on truth, hope, and justice. Like a bride longing for the return of her betrothed, we await the coming of our Lord with breathlessness impossible to describe. We know the Redeemer, Jesus Christ who bore our sins on a cross and opened the way for us to be found to be reconnected to the Father and to one another. As Isaiah 55:6 teaches, we have sought the Lord while He way be found; we have called upon Him while He is near. We have been saved! Not commercialized! I know you may be saying not my church, you don’t know my pastor, we are doing God’s will, and we are growing!
Why then is there so little difference between the church and the unchurched, the lost and the found, the faithful and the faithless? At a time when there may be more professions of faith than ever before, why has the church lost its impact? Why are there so many decisions for Christ with so few commitments to Christ? Why is the lostness of the world so descriptive of the church itself? Why are there as many teenage pregnancies and marital break-ups in the church as there are in the world? Why is it that out of ten self-described Christians only one claims that his or her spiritual growth is a high priority in life?
Could it be that some of us are actually lost in church? Could it be that the evangelized need to be evangelized? Could it be that many in the church don’t want the truth anymore?
As churches reach out to a lost world with the Gospel, many are growing. Facilities are expanding. Church budgets are mounting. Billboards (boards to help pay the bills) are being erected to attract newcomers trying their way and old-comers trying to find the hottest club.
My prayer is that my writings will serve as a sign – not just for the unchurched, but for the lost in church. I want to write specifically about some tough issues that we can’t afford to ignore, this is my purpose for this life. The apostle Paul admonition to believers in the early church applies today: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” Phil.2:12-13
My concern is not only that the lost in church would be found, but also that having been truly found, we may more effectively reach our lost world with God’s healing grace. 2 Chronicles promises,
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land”.
My writing is not for the individual who is comfortable with the status quo of Christianity. It is meant for the lost as well as the saved that are searching for the God of the Bible and not the pastor of the church. Those who will not rest until they have found the truth – God truth. My prayer is that the Son of Man will continue to seek and save the lost – weather it be the lost in the world or the lost in church.
The Five Star Hotel
“I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength; I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough. “And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan—watch as I strip off their pretensions and they’re forced to acknowledge it’s you that I’ve loved.”Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test. “I’m on my way; I’ll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown. Revelation 3:8-11
So often I wonder if I am losing my mind because of the thoughts I have sometimes. I often wonder if I am the only one thinking the way I think. My wife tells me, normal (not the word she uses, but maybe what she is thinking) people don’t think the way you do. I am sure if John had a wife when he was writing the book of Revelation she would have said him the same thing him, my wife say to me sometime. My suggestion to my wife is always follow me, if I am wrong the worst thing could happen is you will deepen your relationship with God and His people. But what if I am right?
My wife and I spent a week in Orlando, Fl. For the first three days we stayed in a three star hotel and for the last four days we moved into a five star hotel. One of the things I always ask God to do is teach me as I live this life, in everything I do. Well, He always does, however, sometimes I wish I had not asked for the lesson He teaches me.
The three star hotel we were in was a very nice place, but when we saw the five star mega (you know where I am going) hotel it was pleasing to the eye and enticing to the ego. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, 2 Timothy 4:3. The first night we stayed in this mega hotel God begin to minister to me. As I slept I begin to dream as if Satan himself was tempting me to return to the thing I once loved to do in the world. I remember waking up having to go down on my knees asking God for his strength to overcome.
This is the first trick of the Devil, if he can get us caught up in the beauty of the eyes and the praise of the ears he can easily return us to the love of the world. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. Matthew 4:8 This is the same trick Satan tried on our Lord. So often we lose sight of the Father, behind the building and the pastor.
This is what happened within the mega hotel and so often happens within the mega or institutionalized church. When I finish talking to my Father, I decided to go to the gym for a workout. I went down to the workout room ready to have a great workout. The nice lady who meets me at the door asked me had I signed up for the workout room yet. (The usher with the tithe envelop) I said no this is my first time here. She said I will be glad to assist you; our fee is $10.00 per day. What! In the three star hotel I had just left the workout room was free. So, I took me a long walk for free.
When I arrived back at the hotel my wife was just waking up complaining about her back hurting. She said this bed is nothing like the one at the other hotel. The room was big and beautiful, but it lacks the very essential thing to fulfill the purpose in which we were in it. The hotel that we had just left, the beds were like sleeping on clouds. When you woke up from your sleep you felt refreshed.
When I first came into the hotel parking garage to park my car I was told to just go on through, but the next time they ask for my room number, my name and gave me a pass. I didn’t think much of it; I had asked the lady at check-in about parking. She told they would ask me for my room number and that was it. Well on the day of check-out there was a billed slid under my door for $6.00 a day parking. Man at the hotel we left we have free parking and a shorter walk to the car.
I know you may be saying what in the world are you trying to say? I am glad you are wondering if you don’t have it by now. You see that same thing happen to us when we move from church building to church building, from pastor to pastor, and from body to body (of people).
As I view the movements that accrue within the body of believers 90% of them are made based on sight and what they hear and not based upon the moving of the spirit of God. The moving from one hotel to another was not base upon the needs of my wife and me, but the satisfaction of the flesh. As I am writing this on a fight from Orlando to Cleveland, I just realized that so many people were loving there stay at this hotel. They were so caught up in the luxury of everything; they didn’t realize the price they had to pay for going mega.
This happens to so many of us in the body of Christ. We are deceived by the beauty around us and don’t recognize the price we have to pay to stay where we are within the body (if that’s really were we are). In the same way Satan attached me in my dreams to entice me to my former life; so many have been enticed while day dreaming at the prosperity of the Gospel. However, we didn’t go on our knees to ask God for help. We go to the lottery of the altar with a promise that God would bless you for this act.
In the same way my wife was awaken from her restless sleep with plain in her back. So many of go throughout the week without a day, hour, minute, or second of rest, because this place costs so much to maintain. The peace that we need in God has been replaced by the desire for man to build a throne for him to rule and sit on. Your backs are burden not by the cross we should bear, but by the ministries the body now has to wear. The place we left gave us the rest we needed to show God in our lives. Not like the place we are that make us live through the pain of no rest and fake like we have it going on.
The food that we received at that other hotel was free, refreshing and left no after taste in my mouth. Unlike the food or lack of that I received at this place. The problem with so many of us is that we can’t afford the pimps we have as pastors. You can never pay a hired hand enough to feed you what our Lord gave us for free. So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” John 21:15. The love for the Lord is scarified for the love of church, entertainment and prosperity. The lamb starve from lack of spiritual food and is too weak too even fend for him/herself.
The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. John 10:12-13 This is what happens to us so often living large in the life of mega blessings, mega prayers, mega pastors and the dreams to go mega. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Philippians 4:11-13
My Pastor, he is the fundamental figure of the Christian faith. So prevailing is the pastor in the minds of most Christians that he is often better known, more highly praised, and more heavily relied upon than Jesus Christ Himself! Remove the pastor and most churches would be thrown into a panic. Remove the pastor and Christianity as we know it would die. The pastor is the dominating focal point, mainstay, and centerpiece of the contemporary church. He is the embodiment of Christianity. But here is the profound irony. There is not a single verse in the entire New Testament that supports the existence of the modern-day pastor! He simply did not exist in the early church.
The Pastor is in The Bible….Right?
The word pastor does appear in the New Testament:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, Ephesians 4:11
The following observations are too made about this text:
This is the only verse in the entire New Testament where the word pastor is used. One solitary verse is a mighty scanty piece of evidence on which to hang the Christian faith. In regard, there seems to be more biblical authority for snake handling (see Mark 16:18 and Acts 28:3-6) than there is for the present-day pastor.
The word is used in the plural. It is pastors. This is significant. For whosoever these “pastors” are they are plural in the church, not singular. Consequently, there is no biblical support for the practice of sola pastora (single pastor). The Greek word translated pastors is poimenas. It means shepherds. (Pastor is the Latin word for shepherd.) Pastor, then, is a metaphor to describe a particular function in the church. It is not an office or a title. The first-century shepherd had nothing to do with the specialized and professional sense it has come to have in contemporary Christianity. Therefore, Ephesians 4:11 does not evasion a pastoral office, but merely one of many functions in the church. It is a profound error, therefore, to confuse shepherds with an office or title as is commonly conceived today.
In Christians churches the pastors tend to be the spokesmen and representatives of the church and the church is often the pastor’s church. This is a great danger and threat to Christianity. The New Testament word for minister is diakonos. It means “servant.” But this word has been distorted because men have professionalized the ministry. We have taken the word minister and equated it with pastor, with no scriptural justification whatsoever. In like manner, we have mistakenly equated preaching and ministry with the pulpit sermon, again without biblical justification.
The unscriptural clergy/laity distinction has done untold harm to the body of Christ. It has divided the believing community into first and second class Christians. The clergy/laity perpetuates an awful falsehood namely, that some Christians are more privileged than others to serve the Lord. The one-man ministry is entirely for foreign to the New Testament, yet we embrace it while it suffocates our functioning. We are living stones, not dead ones. However, the pastoral office has transformed us into stones that do not breathe.
It has distorted the reality of the body, making the pastor a giant mouth and transforming you into a tiny ear. It has rendered you a mute spectator who is proficient at taking sermon notes and passing an offering plate. It has made ineffectual the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12-14, that every member has both right and the privilege to minister in a church meeting. It has voided the message of 1 Peter 2 that every brother and sister is a functioning priest.
Being a functioning priest does not mean that you may only perform highly restrictive forms of ministry like singing songs in your pew, raising your hand during worship, setting up the PowerPoint presentation, or teaching a Sunday school class. That is not the New Testament idea of ministry! These are mere aids for the pastor’s ministry.
We expect doctors and lawyers to serve us, not to train us to serve others. And why? Because they are experts. They are trained professionals. Unfortunately, we look upon the pastor in the same way. All of this does violence to the fact that every believer is a priest. Not only before God, but to one another. Jesus Christ is the only head over a church and the final word of it. By his office, the pastor displaces and supplants Christ’s headship by setting himself up as the church’s human head. As long as the pastoral office is present in a particular church, that church will have a slim chance of witnessing such a glorious thing.
The contemporary pastor not only does damage to God’s people, he does damage to himself. The pastoral office has a way of chewing up many who come within its parameters. Depression, burnout, stress, and emotional breakdown occur at abnormally high rates among pastors. This is one of the major reasons why many pastors live very artificial lives. In this regard, the pastoral role fosters dishonesty. Congregants expect their pastor to always be cheerful, completely spiritual, and available at a moment’s call. They also expect that he will have a perfectly disciplined family. Furthermore, he should never appear resentful or bitter. Many pastors take to his role like actors in a Greek drama. Many, if not most pastors cannot stay in their office without being corrupted on some level. The power-politics endemic to the office is a huge problem that isolates many of them and poisons their relationships with others.
Professional loneliness is another virus that runs high among pastors. The lone-ranger plague drives some ministers into other careers. It drives other into crueler fates. It is lonely at the top because Gog never intended for anyone to be at the top except His Son! In effect, the present day pastor tries to shoulder the fifty-eight New Testament “one another” exhortations all by himself. It is no wonder that many of them get crushed under the weight.
The contemporary pastor is the most unquestioned fixture in twenty-first-century Christianity. Yet not a strand of Scripture supports the existence of this office.
MCCLURKIN ON THE ROLE OF BLACK PASTORS:
‘I Get So Mad at These Preachers!’ — Singer/preacher to Essence.
Essence.com sat down with Grammy-winning gospel great Donnie McClurkin, who also serves as pastor of the Perfecting Faith Church in Long Island, New York and has a bone to pick with preachers who put money above the Lord.
Below are his thoughts on the role of today’s black churches and its pastors in this dwindling economy, as told to Essence.com:
As pastors, we have to link arms and have bipartisanships. The [black] church has always been the face of the community. Now we have to take on the responsibility of becoming true servants to the people from all walks of life. I get so mad when I see these pimpin’ preachers driving Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, flying around in their private jets, and making it seem like prosperity and money is the way of God when 90 percent of your congregation is on Section 8 or can’t figure out how they are going to keep their lights on or feed their kids. I’m big on perception, and what would it look like for me to live so lavishly if the people in my church are struggling?
I don’t have a church, but I do have a church that I pastor. I can’t name something the Donnie McClurkin Temple because the people do not belong to me and if they did that would mean I have slaves. I am simply a vessel to deliver God’s word. At the end of the day, it’s God’s church, not mine.
We have all got troubles. Indeed, sometimes one begins to think there is nothing but trouble in this world. Over the years I have become more aware of people and their problems and troubles. Loneliness, fear, boredom, ignorance, poverty, egos, pride, selfness, hypocrisy —troubles abound; but what are the problems and troubles?
What is the cause of it all? SIN! That is God’s explanation of all our troubles. If you are coming to God to get all the others troubles sorted out, but do not bring him this one, you are unlikely to find a real solution. We present our problems, but God’s diagnosis is that the root problem, the heart of the disease, sin. Sin numbs our ‘spiritual nerves’ so that we do not feel acutely the evil of sin, nor the presence of God all around. We become spiritual insensitive.
When we come to God with our day-to-day troubles and problems, I believe he wants to deal first with the root of all our troubles, sin. That is the deadly disease, of which all our other problems are merely the symptoms.
That is why sin is such a deadly disease. It is not just a question of wrong things we do—the breaking of God’s laws. It goes much deeper. It is what we are, inherited from out parents and their parents before them … a congenital disease. And it is a progressive disease, too, steadily eroding our God-given facilities, blinding us to truth and goodness, until finally we are spiritually dead, no longer able to relate or respond to God at all, or even to goodness. It is from that fate, which Jesus describes as ‘hell’, that we need saving from experiencing love, joy and peace. But it is not the feeling that is the faith; the faith creates the feeling.
Nor is faith primarily a matter of thought. Thought is involved of course. There is a certain minimum intellectual content necessary for faith: the deity of Jesus for instance, his death and resurrection. But if you recite the Creed and say ‘I believe all of that with my mind’ you are ‘believing’ no more than the demons…and they do a bit more, the Bible tells us: the thought of it makes them ‘tremble’.
So, what is faith? Faith is to take those truths and apply them personally: to say, ‘Jesus died for me — rose for me — and is coming back for me.’ The devil cannot share that belief, that kind of faith.
Faith is, in a sense, an act of trust in which the believer takes his life and puts it into the hands of Christ. It is a daily thing—committing myself into the hands of another. In ordinary life we do this all the time—every time we board an airplane or bus, every time we put ourselves into the hands of a surgeon. Faith is just that: putting my ruined life into the hands of Jesus and giving him responsibility from that point on.
According to the definition of most Christians and religious institution the ‘devil’ is a ‘Christian’. People are told just to believe in God and everything will be alright. The bibles say, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble”! James 2:19 What are you doing more than the ‘devil’?
If you are saved from your sin why are you still walking in it? You may not be gay, but you are a liar! You may not be a murderer, but you are a gossiper! You may not be an adulator, but you are vindictive!!!…etc!!!!
Salvation is from sin! Not a reason to continue sin!
I stand a few feet from the mirror and see the face of a man who failed … I promised I wouldn’t but I did. If this were the first time, it would be different. But it isn’t. How many times can one fall and expect to be caught?”
I stood six steps from the bed’s edge. My arms extended. Hands open. On the bed Veronica — all four years of her — crouches, posed like a playful kitten. She’s going to jump. But she’s not ready. I’m too close.
“Back more, Daddy,” she stands and dares.
… Once again she crouches, then springs. Superman without a cape. Skydiver without a chute. Only her heart flies higher than her body. In that airborne instant her only hope is her father. If he proves weak, she’ll fall. If he proves cruel, she’ll crash. If he proves forgetful, she’ll tumble to the hard floor.
But such fear she does not know, for her father she does. She trusts him. The love he has for her have convinced her he is reliable. He is not superhuman, but he is strong. He is not holy, but he is good. He’s not brilliant, but he doesn’t have to be reminded to catch his child when she jumps.
And so she flies.
And so she soars.
And so he catches her and the two rejoice at the wedding of her trust and his faithfulness.
When I think about all the times I fail and it didn’t killed me or even wound me. I wonder what happened? But, everytime I see my little girl whose now a lady, she reminds me to trust God my Father without fear. The same way she trust her father when that’s all she knew to do.
Is There a God?
Is there really a God? After all, no one has ever seen “God” a fact that is inclined to make some abandon the search for him before they have really begun. Many have searched for Him and came up short in their quest to find the true God. So many have lost their patience on the road to truth and settled for a counterfeit who demands nothing of them. As the children of Israel were waiting and; realized that Moses was taking forever in coming down off the mountain, they rallied around Aaron and said, “Do something. Make gods for us who will lead us. That Moses, the man who got us out of Egypt—who knows what’s happened to him?” (Exodus 32:1)
As did the Israelites with their need for a tangible God, they compelled the preacher Aaron to take their gold and make them a prosperity god. A god that were pleasing to the eye, and that they could be proud of which command nothing of them. This is were so many Christians are today worshipping a god that will cater to their fillings and wants, but demand no change. This leaves so many asking the question. Is there a God? Why would He allow this to go on for so long and so people get hurt from trying to keep the golden calf feed and fat?
See, the problem is it’s hard to recognize error unless we know the truth; counterfeits cannot be detected unless we know the genuine article. Likewise, there is no way to determine what is false about the gods we serve unless you know the God who is. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).” I our quest for God we have abandoned our search for truth. Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7.” When you look around our churches and our Christian communities, the fear of the Lord cease to exist. The foolishness from a lack of wisdom and biblical instructions in maintaining the grace of God has left many wondering “Is There a God.”
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, told him to find “capable men from all the people–men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain; Exodus 18:21.” Where can one find such men today? Is there anyone fearing God? Gay men and women run rampant within the church. Divorce and adultery is the number three killer in the pulpit. Following divorce and adultery is the number two killer, “the love of money” men who are not trustworthy to give you the true word of God even when they are being paid to do so. Then we see the number one killer of them all “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud” Proverbs 18:12. The pride and ego of a man causes the heart beat of a silence killer. They lust after you as maggots on a dead animal “Is There a God.” Just like a mother crying out after the death of her two year old son asking, “Is There a God”
However, our spiritual growth is dependent upon our concept our God. What you think about God is the most important thing about you. In our spiritual lives, we cannot transcend the God we worship; we can rise no higher than what we believe to be the highest. (Think about it, if your highest belief is the lie that you live or sit under and not the truth, your worship is as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “Much dreaming and many words are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Therefore stand in awe of God”). Our concept on God will have a marked affect on our practical lives. It is a psychological fact that we trend to become like what (or whom) we admire the most. Hero worship produces followers who tend to emulate their idols, whether they are athletes, saints, or gods. Because worshipers become like the gods they worship, our godliness trends to become like our God. Our concept of God will, therefore, define the limits of our godliness.
In his excellent book Ideas Have Consequences, Richard Weaver lays out the answer to the question of why one’s beliefs are important. (His reasoning applies with even greater force to ideas about God.) A brief look at history tells the often-tragic tale of the results of beliefs. Hitler’s fascist ideas cost more than twelve million lives during the holocaust. Chairman Mao’s Communist ideas eliminated some thirty million. Stalin’s Marxist ideas eventually liquidated at least eighteen million. And when one’s beliefs involve God. And even more important consequence lies in the balance the timeless souls are billions. Theological ideas have longer-lasting consequences then mere political ideas – eternal consequences. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36
A commitment to what is less than ultimate will not be ultimately satisfying. No one knew this better than the wisest man who ever lived. Solomon tried everything “under the sun” for satisfaction. Weather it was wine, women, wealth, worldliness, wisdom, works, or wickedness, he concluded that all is “vanity” and “vexation of spirit” apart from God (Eccl. 1-2). True satisfaction is not found under the sun, but beyond the sun in the Son (Eccl. 12:1). God alone can fill the God-sized vacuum in every human heart. No one will find ultimate satisfaction in anything less than the Ultimate. The quest for eternal pleasure will never be found in anything but the Eternal. And the desire for infinite happiness cannot be found in anything short of the Infinite God.
Hence, any false view of God as less than the Ultimate, Infinite, and Eternal will not bring beatitude (blessedness) to the soul. As Augustine put it, the soul is restless until it finds rest in God – the true and living God. Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. 1 Chronicles 22:19 Our relationship with Christ hinges off our belief in God. Jesus clearly stated I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. John 5:30. Without truly knowing that the Father (God) exists, there is no power for the proclaimed to fame Christians. To be able to change this generation of pew sitters and pulpit pimps we have to know, “There Is a God.” The fear of the Lord must return to us with a repentance spirit. Where we can move into the position where we can honestly say Father, into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. Psalms 31:5