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Leadership- part 1

LEADERSHIP [part 1]
(1081) Was thinking earlier what we should talk about today, I have been jumping around thru some of the prophetic books [Revelation, Zechariah, etc.] but then I remembered I got a letter yesterday from my buddy in the New Jersey jail [I have some in the city jail, some in the state prison system of Jersey]. So I thought I should read the letter and mention it. Sure enough they didn’t take the check, I sent him a 25.00 dollar check and they sent it back; it needs to be a money order. The guys need money to get stuff from the commissary and stuff, I have done this plenty of times [by ‘done this’ I mean sent the money!] I realize now that the Lord is going to have me do a little more writing than I expected. Nothing wrong with it, for some reason I didn’t expect my buddy to write back and want to keep in touch. That’s fine. He also told me he was reading the stuff I copied from my blog; he says ‘it’s strange I can hear your voice when I read your stuff’. Just a few weeks back I was ‘thinking’ about the dynamic of hearing someone’s voice when you read their books, I mean it was a conscious thought that I couldn’t shake. Now I realize it was one of those prophetic moments, basically the Lord was telling me ‘people will hear your voice when they read your stuff’. My buddy handed out a few of the ministry cards I sent, he told me some of the other brothers might write. It’s strange, I felt the Lord was telling me a few years ago that he was going to expand my territory and I would once again have contact with New Jersey, and at the same time some of the Texas contacts would wane [the prison stuff- I still have a bunch of cities we speak into]. So it seems like some of this is coming to pass. To be honest with you guys, I have had some tough times these past few weeks. I can’t be ‘too real’ on a public blog like this! But take my word for it, I have struggled somewhat. You know what’s funny [or sad?] I have preacher ‘acquaintances’ who preach great, they always have an excellent public persona. Some think I am too ‘worldly’ [possibly so!] but they mean my open sharing and stuff on the blog. Sort of like we should always be in a preaching mode and ‘God’ forbid we should ever be real. I know some of these men personally, some of them have had more ‘private’ problems than you could ever imagine. Now, I am not judging them, but if all we ever see/know about people are their platform image, then we are seeing an unrealistic picture of the Christian life. Our preaching [American Christianity] is consumed with self-help techniques and psycho babble. We present an unreal picture to the world. Then I hear preachers say that this real life style, being open and not perfect, is wrong. I think the American church needs an overhaul in general. I got an email from the news paper that messed up my bill last month, this paper [Jersey Journal] is the only one I put my name in with the ad, the purpose is for any old friends to see it and maybe read the site. In the other papers I just run the blog ad. But the Journal always treats me right, the poor brother who handles my account always profusely apologizes when something goes wrong ‘please forgive us for the mistake’ and stuff like that. So this time I just couldn’t resist it, I emailed him back ‘NO, I CAN NOT FORGIVE YOU GUYS THIS TIME!’ of course I was kidding, but I would have loved to have seen the look on his face when he read it. So anyway, today we learned that we are all in the same boat, we all struggle with things in life, but during this life we are also called upon by God to give ourselves away for others. To transcend our own weaknesses and give of our time and money for the benefit of others. People who live in the real world need others who live in the real world to reach out and help. One of my favorite movies is Donnie Brascoe [yes, I watch the mafia stuff]. It’s the true story of an undercover F.B.I. agent who infiltrates the mob, he made it further in than any other agent in history. The danger was he identified so much with the brothers, that he had a difficult time differentiating between which world he was in. There is always a danger when living in the real world, we are to be in the world, not of it. But for mere mortals this can be difficult, surely Jesus would never identify too much with such sinful creatures! Oh wait, there is this little doctrine that just popped into my head, I think they call it THE INCARNATION.

(1078) I’m getting ready to email one of our news papers [the ones I run the blog ad in] they double billed me again! I have these papers do direct withdrawals from my account, when a few of them over bill in one month it puts me in a bind. Sometimes it bugs the ‘heck’ out of me, but then I calm down and try and correct it the next day. I believe the Lord allows you to have influence, to ‘go far’, by his sovereign will. Not too long ago I emailed a national radio/prison ministry. He’s based out of Washington, famous brother. Sure enough as I heard his 5 minute radio program one morning, he used a rare example that I have taught on our site. I thought ‘geez, he must be reading our stuff’. It was one of those teachings that is hardly ever heard, a short thing on Jesus words about ‘the camel going thru the eye of a needle’. I refuted the silly teaching that used to say ‘the eye of the needle’ was the name of a ‘low gate’ in the city wall, thus- the poor camel can make it thru, but he has to crouch! OUCH! So any way this brother used the example, good for him [and me]. So if the Lord wants a person to have influence that goes far, he will do it. But there are also times where the Lord holds us back, that is he is simply waiting for our maturity to catch up with our ability. What I mean by this is it is all too common for preachers/ministries to master the art of bringing in the finances, getting things together, then expanding their message way beyond the borders of their maturity. That’s why there is so much unbalanced teaching in the church today, the American church spends exorbitant amounts of money on teaching stuff that is ‘less than perfect’ if you get my drift. So let the Lord lead you in how far your voice should go. He might be saying ‘look son, I have great purposes and plans for you, I have given you a gift and talents that are going to be used in a great way in my kingdom. But for the present time this does not include a national/world-wide audience’.

(1074) Yesterday I met Edward; he is a homeless brother from San Antonio. He located to Corpus a few months ago. As I was helping him out during the day I realized he had a situation with another brother who owns a ‘church building’. The building is not being used so they worked out a deal with my friend, he would live in it and kinda be a caretaker while they are trying to sell it. Well after being with the brother most of the day I ‘discerned’ how he is in great strife with the owners. They have told him to leave and all, he is telling me about his ‘legal rights’ to stay [you do run into brothers like this. I have had buddies tell me stuff like this before ‘squatter’s rights’ and stuff. When one of my friends refused to get his motorcycle motor out of my garage, he started using the squatters rights ‘provision’ he saw how quickly I began dragging it out to the curb! He got it out.] So this is kind of a funny thing that the guys do at times. But it did get me to thinking about how often we mix ‘business’ with ‘church’ [charity]. I have a policy, whenever someone asks to borrow money, I NEVER do it, but I will GIVE them some, with the explicit directions to ‘not pay me back’. A few posts back I mentioned how I used to do the real estate thing; buying a cheap rental [some were not cheap] and renting it out until I could sell it. It’s not wrong for believers to do stuff like this, but Jesus also taught us that the pursuit of wealth can affect you in a bad way. At the time I was reading and learning about all types of money investments, consuming my thoughts and energies with this stuff. Then my bible reading/teaching would inevitably become ‘affected’ with this paradigm. I would just naturally gravitate towards the money portions of scripture, when coming across the classic ‘you cannot serve God and money’ verses; I would unconsciously stick it in the category of ‘church tradition’ even though Jesus was the one who said it! So its a popular trend for believers to get into the whole ‘God has called me into the ministry of teaching believers how to become financially independent, so lets spend our time building wealth for my business and at the same time helping other believers build wealth’ sounds noble, but it usually winds up focusing on the money stuff most of the time. It gets your focus on the wrong thing. So anyway I think we need to refocus our thoughts on the New Testament priorities, sure you can be a responsible business investor, nothing wrong with it. But don’t go down the road of ‘my ministry is to bring in the wealth’ you wont be the first [or last] person that has ‘felt this calling’.

(1073) 1st KINGS 22- Well, this study went fast! I basically write a chapter a day and it fly’s by. Ahab consults with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. He convinces him to fight against Syria and take back Ramoth-Gilead. Jehoshaphat asks Ahab ‘are there any prophets we can get advice from?’ Ahab brings out the troops, these were 400 PAID prophet’s who were ‘on staff’. Sure enough these brothers know how to ‘prophesy’. They all with one voice [unity] prophesy a great victory ‘surely you will prosper’ is the mantra. One brother even makes these iron horns and says ‘just like these horns you will push the enemy back’ they put on quite a show. But wait, Jehoshaphat wants to play it safe, he asks ‘are there any more prophets that we need to hear from’? Sure enough Ahab says ‘well, I have this guy, but he is so negative! He never agrees with these other fine brothers, but what the heck, lets get him’. So they send a servant to retrieve Micaiah. On the way back to the king, the poor messenger says ‘Now look, all the other brothers are on board, they know how to toe the party line. Please give your reformation preaching a rest’. So they arrive at the designated spot, and Micaiah prophesies good stuff. He gave into the pressure. Ahab says ‘how many times do I have to tell you to speak what’s really on your heart’ then he gives the true prophecy ‘I saw Israel like scattered sheep across the terrain’ basically he was saying ‘don’t go to battle’. Ahab says ‘see, what did I tell you! This brother is bad news’ they lock him up and go to battle. Sure enough Ahab gets killed ‘by chance’ [a stray arrow] and the battle goes bad. Also, a story is told how the host of heaven appeared before God and the lord said ‘how will we convince Ahab to go to battle’? And the story says that God allowed a lying spirit to be in all the prophets. It was Gods judgment on Ahab to let him hear what he wanted to hear! Paul says that people will ‘heap to themselves teachers, wanting the ears tickled’ we live in a day where church attendance is ‘seeker friendly’ people want their ‘felt needs’ met. Sometimes the Lord gives people what they want, even if it’s not good for them! [Remember King Saul?] So we end 1st Kings with judgment falling on Ahab, the dogs ‘licked the blood’ from his chariot in Samaria as a fulfillment of Gods judgment on him. We also see the possibility of ‘prophetic ministers’ looking really good, putting on a show, if you will, and yet being dead wrong! In today’s internet environment we live in a day where multiple prophecies go forth on a regular basis, we need to be wary of listening to the ‘many prophets’. I have found a few good prophetic words thru this venue, but for the most part the ‘prophets’ have a tendency to go with the flow. This is not to say that all prophecy needs to be doom and gloom, but we often give voice to the image of Jesus that suits us best. We like a rich, successful, wealthy Jesus, a real go getter if you will. We then speak words that are coming from our distorted image of him. In essence we prophesy [speak] words that are in agreement with the image of Jesus that we choose to hold on to. Ahab had a bunch of prophets who were looking real good, surely they all couldn’t be wrong! God let them prophesy the things that they wanted to prophesy.

(1071)1ST KINGS 20- Benhadad, king of Syria, besieges Israel and threatens Ahab ‘give me your gold, wives and kids’. Ahab was a demoralized man, his wife was already running the show, he relinquished any remnant of nobility years ago. He responds ‘sure, take it all. What do I care?’ So all goes well, Not! Benhadad says ‘one more thing, tomorrow my men will come and inspect your stuff, if they see anything else of value, they taking that too!’ So Ahab consults with his men, he tells them the situation and they decide to reject the final offer. The fight is on. Notice how the Lord sends Ahab true prophets who give him guidance along the way, it’s like the Lord was willing to allow Ahab some time to get things right. The false prophets are dead, Elijah rebuilt the altar, who knows, maybe God was giving Ahab a real chance at reform. So Ahab does okay, he has a few battles with Syria, and at the end he LETS THE WICKED ENEMY GO! God rebukes him for this thru a prophet. God basically says ‘look, I gave you a second chance. I had a task for you, your job was to recognize and eliminate the threats to my people’ what happened? I have noticed thru the years that leaders, good men, will often fall into mindsets that say ‘well, after all our goal is to succeed and be happy. Have good church attendance, good income. Why even bother dealing with stuff that’s wrong?’ There are times in church history where God is looking for reformers, men and women who are willing to take a stand and say ‘enough, this stuff has be going on for too long, we will have no more of it’ [doctrines and stuff that lead Gods people astray]. It seems as if Ahab was living for the day, willing to let the wicked king live another day. After all, what harm can it do? He disobeyed God, he was given a mandate to execute justice, he didn’t. God chose him to complete the task, not just survive. Ahab blew it big time.

(1070) 1st KING 19- Ahab tells his wife, Jezebel, about Elijah’s victory, she sends word to the prophet ‘so help me God if I don’t do the same to you as you did to my prophets’. Understand, Elijah did not simply ‘rebuke’ false doctrine here, he actually dismantled an entire ‘religious system’ that was contrary to the purposes of God. It is very difficult to uproot all that you have put in place for the sake of reformation. I find this to be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when seeking God for true change in the church. Christians too often associate their relationship with God along with the systems of religion that they were brought up with. Now Elijah flees for his life, God will appear to him at Horeb; he is not in the wind, earthquake or fire, but in the ‘still, small voice’. Elijah is told to anoint a king of Syria, also anoint Jehu as king of Israel and go get your protégée Elisha. Elijah is also told by God there are seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. We see the danger of prophetic ministry; God vindicated Elijah and truly did miraculous stuff with him. It was easy for Elijah to fall into the trap of ‘I am the only one who sees this stuff’. God reassured him he wasn’t alone. These last few years I have been surprised by the number of Christians who have corresponded with me thru our blog, it seems as if the present challenges to ‘church/clergy’ are becoming commonplace to the believers at large. It is no longer a secret. But it is also disheartening to see many of my friends who have served the Lord for years; they seem to be oblivious to the same truths that the church worldwide is seeing. So with Elijah you did have false prophets who were all wrong at the same time. Yes, just because there were so many who held on to the same view of religion [Baal worship] this did not mean they were right. But at the same time it was obvious to at least seven thousand others that the popular religious system was actually wrong! James says that Elijah was a man ‘subject to the same weaknesses as all men’ yet the Lord used him mightily. All Gods servants have feet of clay, many of the greatest reformers of church history also made big mistakes. Luther was a tremendous force for change, but his anti semitic writings would later be used as a justification for Jewish oppression. As we strive for truth and justice in the days ahead, let us all remember that some of Gods greatest voices are ‘compassed about with the same infirmities as us all’ God does use clean vessels, but even clean vessels sometimes have cracks.

(1068) 1ST KINGS 17- This chapter is pretty famous among Christians, not like the others we have looked at. God’s word comes to Elijah and he enters the scene as a significant Old Testament figure. Jesus will refer to John the Baptist as one who came in ‘the spirit and power of Elijah’. The religious people of Jesus day held on to the prophecy of Malachi that ‘before the great day of the Lords coming, Elijah would appear’ [Jesus applied this to John the Baptist] so the brother has good credentials. He comes out of the shoot like a rocket; he confronts Ahab, the wicked king of Israel and prophesies no rain in the land. God directs him to go into hiding/obscurity and live by a brook. The Ravens bring him food and he drinks from the brook. The drought causes the brook to dry up and God instructs him to go to a city and be cared for by a widow woman. He goes and asks the woman to provide for him, she fears she won’t have enough for both him and her small family [a son]. He encourages her not to fear and take care of him, she does and God provides supernaturally for the woman. Eventually her son dies and she blames God ‘did God bring you hear to show me what a sinner I am? Now my son dies!’ She was feeling condemned/guilty. Elijah takes the child and lays on him and God raises the boy from the dead, one of the greatest miracles that God does with men. A few things; Elijah was not there to instill fear into the average ‘church folk’. Last night I again made the mistake of channel surfing the Christian channels during ‘praise athon month’ [Double ouch!!] One channel had a brother telling the people ‘God is not moved unless your giving is sacrificial, it must hurt you to please God’ [in so many words] The other channel had a brother saying ‘God said if you hear preaching and benefit, and you don’t give money in return, you are sowing to the corruption of the flesh’ I am familiar with this passage, it is found in Corinthians. The tone and overall ‘sense’ of these appeals was wrong. It seemed to leave a feeling of fear and condemnation to the average channel surfer who might be looking for answers. Elijah told the widow woman ‘don’t fear’. Elijah also had the capacity to live in obscurity, though God spoke highly of him, yet he recognized that there would be seasons of obscurity; times when you simply serve the Lord thru simple tasks and go unrecognized for many years. I cant stress enough the contradiction between Jesus ethos of Christian leadership and what the average Christian is taught in our day. We connect Christian success in ministry with the tools of corporate growth and we simply set young ministers on a purpose driven course that often by passes the teachings and character of New Testament leadership. Elijah will eventually appear again on the scene, but he spent an awful lotta time by the brook!

(1064) 1st KINGS 14- Jeroboam’s son gets sick, he tells his wife ‘disguise yourself and go to the prophet Ahijah, he will tell you what will happen to the boy’. She goes and the Lord reveals the identity of the wife to Ahijah, he is old and blind. As soon as she gets to the house he gives her a strong rebuke, tells her the child will die and that her husband was wicked. Sure enough she takes the message back to Jeroboam and these things come to pass. Why did Jeroboam disguise his wife? Ahijah was the original prophet who told Jeroboam that he would be king, Jeroboam knew that he was doing wrong by instituting idolatrous practices into the nation; so why did he do it? Basically he trusted in the arm of the flesh to maintain would God gave him. He did it so he wouldn’t lose the kingdom. He obviously avoided the prophet for as long as he could, he thought he would send his wife incognito and who would know? The Lord knew. God has ways of getting information to you [and me!] whether we want to hear it or not. Also Ahijah was a prophet, another name for prophet is ‘Seer’ [some feel seers are totally different gifts/offices, for the sake of this basic teaching they are closely related] but yet he couldn’t ‘see’ for himself. I find it interesting that many of Gods greatest gifted people can’t seem to find help for themselves. There is a prophecy about Jesus that says ‘physician, heal thyself’, Paul had a thorn in the flesh that wouldn’t go away! Many people that are used by God to pray for healing and get results, they themselves struggle with sickness. Ahijah had a word; not only about Jeroboams son [a localized situation] but also a national word ‘Israel will be shaken like a reed in the water’ the Lord used the local situation to speak to the broader community. The people would ‘be shaken’ because they permitted idolatry into their lives. Understand, we see the idolatry of Israel as blatant [actual idols and stuff] but they really thought that the forms of idolatry that they were practicing were pleasing to God! I often find that well intentioned believers have a difficult time ‘seeing’ idolatry [covetousness, greed]. The American church has incorporated ‘success/abundance’ so deeply into the minds of the saints that we view our worship of God thru this skewed lens. ‘If God wants me to have an abundant life, then what’s wrong with me centering my church life around being successful, confessing and thinking about abundance/money all day long’? Well, what’s wrong with it is Jesus told the church that he didn’t want us ‘thinking’ about these things all the time, he said the ‘gentiles [unbelievers] are always thinking about the stuff, it shall not be so with you’. So it takes time for Christians to see these things, Jeroboam instituted a form of idolatry into Gods nation, the people sincerely went along for the ride. God said they were going to be shaken ‘like a reed in the water’.

(1062) 1st KINGS 13- Jeroboam is confronted by a prophet as he is worshiping at the idol/altar in Bethel. The prophet gives a significant word, he mentions by name a future king [Josiah] who God is going to raise up to institute reform in the nation. When someone’s name is prophesied before their birth, that is a special anointing. Both Jesus and John the Baptist had stuff like this surrounding their births. Now Jeroboam stretches out his hand against the prophet, God curses his hand and the prophet prays for him and he gets healed. Jeroboam invites him to stay for a meal and the young prophet says ‘no, God told me not to stay and eat here’. On his way home an older prophet invites him to come back and eat with him, he tells the young prophet ‘I too am a prophet and the Lord told me for you to “eat and sit at my table’” [a type of fellowship]. Now, the old prophet lied, why? It seems as if he did not do this on purpose, he heard the story about the young man, possibly remembered the glory days of old and simply wanted the fellowship. As the young prophet ‘sits at the table of deceit’ the word of the Lord comes to the old prophet and says ‘because you disobeyed and stayed and ate, you will die’. The old prophet gave a true word and the young prophet leaves and is killed by a lion. His ‘movement’ died prematurely because he ‘sat’ at the table of deceit and disobeyed God. A few things; many years ago as I saw certain things going off track with certain movements [prosperity] I saw things that seemed to be fake, brothers sharing dreams and prophetic words that seemed false. Yet I felt these brothers weren’t doing this on purpose, that in some way they fell into a trap of wanting to be involved and accepted by their peers. And when confronted by real reproofs, they simply retreated into their own groups and refused the reproof. There are things like this happening now with certain elements of the modern prophetic movement. In the above story, the older prophet meant no harm, but yet harm was done! The younger prophet wasn’t there [in Bethel] to rebuke the old man, he was simply carrying the torch of prophetic rebukes that were needed at times. The mistake the younger generation made was being too willing to ‘sit and eat’ at the old mans table. I believe that certain elements of the older ‘prophetic’ movements need to be abandoned and left alone to die [false doctrines, not people!]. Those who walk in wisdom and obedience will reuse to ‘sit and eat at the old mans table’ and those who decide to stay at the table will die prematurely [that is their ministries and movements will be cut short] which group are you in?

(1061) 1ST KINGS 12- At the end of the last chapter Solomon died, Rehoboam his son will now ascend to the throne. Rehoboam is confronted by the nation, they tell him ‘your father was a slave driver! He made it hard on us, we were tools that were being used for his own self advancement’ [my paraphrase] they plead with Rehoboam to go easy on them. I find it interesting that Solomon’s reputation outside of Israel was great, he excelled and the kings of the earth knew it [image building]. But amongst his own people, those who knew him best, he was driven by ambition. Though hey liked the man and he was a great leader, yet they associated him with always putting a yoke/burden on them to build. ‘More and more’ was the logo. The people were tired, they wanted to simply exist as Gods people. They weren’t asking Rehoboam to totally put them on welfare, they just wanted a break from viewing their lives thru the unrelenting pressure of ambition. So Rehoboam consults with two groups; he asks the elders of the land for advice, they advise him to ‘become a servant of the people, go easy on them’ What! A servant, are you kidding me man. Sounds like the teaching of Jesus ‘he that wants to be greatest must serve’. He then consults the young guys, peers in his own age group, they tell him ‘go for it, tell them you aint seen nothing yet! You think daddy was tough, my little finger will be heavier than his leg!’ Rehoboam listens to both groups and chooses the bad advice of the younger generation. So the people [with Jeroboam as the head speaker] come back on the 3rd day for the response, they don’t like what they hear and mount a revolt. The kingdom becomes divided under Jeroboam as the new king of Israel [ten tribes-northern] and Rehoboam as the king over Judah [and Benjamin] the southern tribe. Now Jeroboam realizes that he will lose control of the people if they keep their religious feasts at Jerusalem every year. Jerusalem is the capital where his adversary Rehoboam is at, so he sets up two golden calves [just like what happened in the wilderness in Moses day] and he places them in the city of Dan and Bethel. He also sets up a new class of priests, in violation of Gods law, and he makes up his own religious calendar. This single action of rebellion introduces false religion on a large scale to Gods people. Rehoboam gets together an army and is about to fight and regain his rightful place, God sends a prophet to him and tells him ‘leave it alone, the thing is from me’. God allowed for the split, Rehoboam had the chance to humble himself and instill a new mindset into Gods people. Yet he went for ‘the glory’. There are obviously a lot of lessons here, I don’t have to show them all to you, they are plain enough to see. To all the leaders/pastors who follow us, how are you viewed by those closest to you? Do outsiders see you as a successful leader, ambitious and able to get stuff done? Do those closest to you seem to be saying ‘lets take a break, we have had many years of never being able to sacrifice enough, building things. Okay things, but the job has been tough, we need a break’. Be sensitive to the real purpose of God, for him to be fully glorified and expressed thru is church, the community of God. Solomon reigned over a great people, but he was too ambitious, ambitious in the area of image building. The people themselves should have been the important thing, not the amount of stuff they could produce! In the end Rehoboam lost more than he would have ever gained by choosing the hard route. Allow God to lead you in the paths that he has set before you, the people you lead are the thing of value, not the things that they can produce [financially or any other way].

(1059) 1ST KINGS 11- THE SIN OF SOLOMON- Now we get to the part where Solomon blows it. As I read these stories of the great men who failed, I continually fall into the trap of rooting for them, even though I know the end of the story! The trap being that failure in a sense was built into the story. How could God fulfill his purpose thru the coming Messiah if one of the sons of David actually lived up to the standard? Solomon, in a sense, was destined to fail. So what happened? This chapter says Solomon loved many women [1,000 to be exact!] and IN HIS OLD AGE began worshipping their gods. He set up altars for sacrifice and allowed the pagan gods to affect Gods people. I find this interesting, it wasn’t the actual act of having all those other women, but the sin of being too accommodating to the other ‘world religions’. I’m presently reading a book written by what you would call a liberal scholar, you know, the brothers who challenge the authenticity of just about everything. But I also have some good scholars that I read from. To be honest, at times you still might read something that makes you a little uneasy; they too at times have been affected by higher learning. But the difference between the ‘good and the bad’ ones is the fact that the good ones remain true to the historic gospel. N.T. Wright is a great scholar, he sits in the middle category, between the conservatives and the liberals [in my view]. The prolific Bishop of Durham [Church of England] has written excellent stuff on the resurrection and the kingdom of God. The liberal scholars view him as ‘behind the times’ why? Because he actually defends the historic resurrection of Christ! Yet you can read some higher criticism in Wrights stuff, not real bad stuff, just things that the average fundamentalist might be uncomfortable with. So getting back to Solomon, he became way too accommodating to the religions of his day. Sort of like calling Islam, Christianity and Judaism the ‘great Abrahamic faiths’. Now, I love Muslims/Arabs, I have written in their defense! I also think some Muslim apologetic arguments for the existence of God are good, but I would not describe Islam as one of the great Abrahamic faiths. Just like I would not call Mormonism one of the great ‘restorationist faiths’. A while back a bunch of believers had an ecumenical meeting with Muslims and Jews. Noble efforts to tone down world violence in an attempt to all get along, I think stuff like this is good. But some Christians defended Allah as being the same God as the Christians, just a different name. In my view they went too far. So Solomon became too pluralistic in his old age. Beware of the trend to abandon central elements of the faith as you mature in your thinking. There is a real temptation to want to look ‘enlightened’ to try and put distance between your intellectual faith and those ‘silly fundamentalists’, because if your not careful you might just end up with a bunch of pagan altars at your doorstep. [Ben Witherington and R.C. Sproul are other favorite scholars of mine; one is Arminian and the other Calvinistic, it’s good to read scholars from various points of view].

(1058) 1ST KINGS 10- The queen of Sheba hears about the wisdom and wealth of Solomon and makes a trip to check it out, she says ‘the half has not been told’. Solomon established an impressive economic and military system for the nation; he knew how to accomplish stuff. Wisdom [Solomon’s gift] allows for there to be action along with knowledge. Jesus knew how to use wisdom, scripture says he ‘is the wisdom of God’. The book of Proverbs [written by Solomon] personifies wisdom as Gods firstborn, God possessed him before all things. Scripture says ‘wisdom sends out her servants/ships’ remember when Jesus ‘sent the word’ and healed people? Or when the Leper was told to ‘go wash’ [by Elijah] he almost didn’t follow through because he was expecting some big show. Wisdom does not need you to personally ‘be there’ for all the action. I get frustrated at times when the modern church implies to the average saint that they really cant effect society ‘on their own’ but it is said in a way that makes the average ‘churchgoer’ think that the only way they can have a part of the action is in if they give exorbitant amounts of money ‘to the church’. And then ‘the church’ will send their money to other professional ministers who will carry out the job. Or the church will send their minister all over the world and he will do the job for them! This mindset ‘de-claws’ the average saint, it makes him think his main contribution is ‘the collection plate’! Use wisdom to impact society, you don’t always have to ‘be there’ [physically] to have an impact, but you are not limited to simply giving money to others who will act on your behalf. The believer’s greatest tool is his/her ability to make disciples wherever you are. Of course you can use modern tools like the internet. These things can be done for little or no cost and you can have a worldwide impact. The point is wisdom allows you to get things done by establishing systems of communication and ‘sending’ that can reach far and wide. In this chapter we read of Solomon’s navy, a previous chapter said ‘Hiram [and Solomon] made rafts and floated the trees to Solomon, there they were discharged for the work’. God can give you ‘divine rafts’ systems of delivery and discharge where you can impact large regions with little effort! All in all the wisdom of Solomon put in place systems that could carry the workload, without having to use actual manpower to get everything done by hand [can you imagine the manpower that would have been needed to hand carry all the trees!] To all my readers, you can impact ‘your world’ by listening to God and responding as he directs. Solomon said [in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes] that there was a poor wise man who delivered a city [and no one remembered him- non famous!] yet his wisdom gave him great influence ‘with the elders of the land’. Paul established the greatest ‘church planting movement’ known to man, and he did it on a shoestring budget! Don’t let man tell you that you can’t really accomplish much without being rich, you are a child of God and he that is in you is greater than he that is in the world! [note- as an aside, I was listening to a testimony of a minister who said how he thought it was sad that in the ‘ministerial’ environment there were times when the pastors would gather and the church members as well. But in these scenarios there seemed to be a distinction that was unbiblical; sort of like the ministers were fellowshipping amongst themselves, being excited over the plans and activities of ‘their church’ while the average saints were also fellowshipping amongst themselves and sharing about their lives and stories. In actuality the New Testament communities did not have these types of divisions. You did not have a separate class of ‘minister’ who ‘ran the church’ as a separate business enterprise. All the people [Elders and Saints] were of one community and their stories and lives commingled in a more communal way. There was no separation between the ‘classes’.]

(1056) 1ST KINGS 8- This chapter shows the coming together of the Ark and Temple at Jerusalem. Solomon makes a great dedication to the Lord. He acknowledges the reality that God does not ‘dwell in temples made with hands’ but he asks the Lord to show preference to the temple and the prayers of the people. We really have a tremendous picture of Gods kingdom and rule thru these images. The temple centers the people on the reality of God dwelling in their midst. They worship him from Jerusalem and their king honors the father and leads the people in community wide intercession. There are even provisions made for ‘strangers’ who will become influenced by God’s reality, they will hear about Gods great story with his people [narrative!]. They will then come and also make intercession to him. I find it interesting that in the book of Acts [and 1st century church history] we read about the pagan converts to Judaism, the ‘God fearers’. Israel always maintained this aspect of their culture with God, they left the door open for converts. I also find it interesting that converts came! After all, the Jews did not practice a type of ‘soul winning’ that actively sought proselytes. It was simply the reality of God working with his people that drew others in. These last few years much has been said/written on the church and her mission. Is the gospel too small or too big? Sometimes in our efforts to ‘go deep’ we make it difficult for new converts to come into the church. In all of our efforts to present a gospel that affects society as a whole, the social aspects of our calling. The greater kingdom vision of Jesus as seen in ‘the gospels’ we also want to make sure that the simple initiation of new converts is made plain and easy to understand [in essence we need the Gospels AND the epistles both. A kingdom message is not complete without the reality of Atonement!] Solomon makes a great speech/prayer in this chapter, he worships God for standing true to his promise that he made to David his father. The people hold a seven day city wide celebration and go back to their homes. Even though the temple and it’s structure were not in Gods original plan [go read about David and Nathan] yet God will honor and use this limited system for a season. In the present day reformation of the church and her structures, we always need to keep in mind that we are still dealing with the people of God. Many of them worship God in ‘limited structures’ but yet they still worship God! So as we reform and grow in the coming decades, we also want to leave room for the prayer of Solomon ‘I know you cant be limited to a structure like a temple, but please honor the prayers and simple sacrifices of your people. They are doing it out of dedication to you’ [my paraphrase].

(1054) 1st KINGS 6 ‘CONCERNING THIS HOUSE WHICH THOU ART IN BUILDING, IF THOU WILT WALK IN MY STATUTES, AND EXECUTE MY JUDGMENTS, AND KEEP ALL MY COMMANDMENTS TO WALK IN THEM; THEN WILL I PERORM MY WORD WITH THEE, WHICH I SPAKE UNTO DAVID THY FATHER’ [verse 12] Part of the promise of God to David was he would set up a son, from his natural heritage, that would take an everlasting throne. God would be faithful to his part of the bargain as long as his son walked in obedience, ultimately these promises would be fulfilled thru Christ. We can also apply them to our lives as well, we are all ‘building a house’ in a sense. Jesus said those who heard his words and did them were like those building on a sure foundation, those who ‘heard only’ were building on sand. I find it interesting that many of us seem to think that gathering one day a week to ‘hear words’ is what God requires, in a sense we have become professional hearers! [and speakers] As you relate to the house you are building, seek the Lord for wisdom and insight into how you should build. God gave Moses specific directions in the building of the tabernacle; these are the same blueprints Solomon used, only on a larger scale. Solomon did not have to get ‘another blueprint’ he simply needed to be faithful to what the Lord already revealed. Recently in the ‘church world’ we had the passing of two good men; Avery Dulles and John Neuhouse [spelling?] If I remember right, Avery Dulles said that he was no innovator, he would not be known for his new ideas, but he was just a faithful servant in Christ’s church. I liked that, we too often want to find ‘new blueprints’ sometimes the Lord is simply looking for those who will hear and obey. [Both Avery and John were Catholic’s involved in the evangelical/catholic alliance]

(1053)1ST KINGS 5-Solomon contracts with Hiram, king of Tyre, to supply Cedar wood and trees for the construction of the temple. He also raises up a mighty labor force who will work in 3 shifts, one month in the forest and two months back home. They helped cut down and deliver the logs on rafts back to Solomon. He has a massive labor force of stone cutters as well, they are cutting stone for the foundation of the temple. Like I said in a previous chapter, the temple is a picture of both the Old Covenant [law] and the new gentile church uniting as ‘one new man’ in Christ. Though the temple is basically a large scale replica of the Mosaic tabernacle, yet the only actual piece of furniture that makes in into the temple is the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark represents Gods presence, in the New Testament we see that Gods Spirit and presence left the Old law system [as typified by the temple- Hebrews] and ‘entered’ into the new temple, made up of both Jew and Gentile believers! [Ephesians]. Solomon was wise enough to realize that he personally did not possess all the skills to accomplish the mission, he knew how to hire other skilled people to help with the completion of the task. In ministry we often try and accomplish too much through the personal attributes/gifts of the leader. One of the plagues on the Body of Christ today is the American system of entrepreneurial church, we seem to exalt the personalities and gifts of the main leader at the expense of the functioning of the people of God. Though many good men are involved with this system, yet we need to transition to a place where we understand that in Christ’s church he uses many gifted people in various ways to build his temple [the people of God].This chapter says God gave Solomon ‘peace on every side, he had no adversaries nor evil occurrence’. Scripture says when a mans ways please the Lord he makes even his adversaries to be at peace with him. God gave Solomon a season of peace and rest, not for the purpose of sitting back and resting on his laurels, but for the purpose of building his kingdom. Solomon walked ‘while he had the light’ [he took advantage of the window of opportunity that God put before him].

(1052) 1st KINGS 4- ‘And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness [generous] of heart…and his wisdom was greater than all the children of the east and Egypt…and all the people and the kings of the earth [gentiles shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising] came to hear the wisdom of Solomon’- In this chapter we read of the tremendous storehouse of goods and resources that God gave to Solomon. His wisdom was in many areas, not just ‘theology’! He was a true Renaissance man. Before the reformation and the ‘enlightenment’ you had the Renaissance period. For many years the wisdom and knowledge that prevailed in early Greco-Roman society was lost/hidden from the public. Through process of time and events [like the crusades] some of these hidden resources of knowledge were re-discovered and the world went thru a renewal period in wisdom and philosophy. It was thanks to the catholic churches preserving of these early works [Monks and monasteries] that would later lead to them being recovered. Now, even though these works were recovered, they weren’t readily available to the general public on a wide scale. You simply did not have the tools [internet/public libraries in abundance] to disseminate the information at large, but you did have men who became educated in these areas and they were the ‘renaissance men’. Sort of like walking libraries of wisdom, ‘Solomon’s’ if you will. Solomon wrote and studied on all sorts of subjects, he did not limit himself to one field only. Often times in the area of ‘full time preaching’ we send kids off to college [okay] and they get an education that only applies to one field [full time ministry]. I think it would be better if all the ‘preachers’ became well rounded in many practical areas of learning, getting skills in various areas [Paul-tent making] that would enable them to transition when reformation happens [like the current challenge on church practices and the full time pastoral office. Many sincere men are too dependant on their jobs as full time ministers to seriously reconsider the scriptural grounds for their office]. So Solomon was the type of brother who could converse with you in all types of fields. Many of the world’s greatest scientists/mathematicians were Christians, a common mistake is to think the scientific revolution was launched by anti religious men, this is simply not true. A careful study of history would show you that the majority of the great scientific minds were products of the church. It was common to major in theology and use that field of study as the foundation for all the other fields of learning. Jesus said of Solomon that kings and queens went out of their way to hear the wisdom of Solomon [the Warren Buffet of his day] but yet a greater than Solomon was here! [speaking of himself]

(1051) 1st KINGS 3: 16-28 Now to the famous story. Two women [harlots] come to Solomon with a problem. They both had children within a few days of each other, and one night one of the babies died. The other woman woke up and had the dead baby with her, but after she looked at it she realized it wasn’t hers. The real mother of the dead child did a swap at night. So as they are pleading their case to the king, they both claim that the living child is theirs. So Solomon calls for a sword, they bring him the sword and he tells his men ‘take the baby and divide it in two, give half to each mom’ sounds fair enough. Of course the real mom says ‘no, don’t divide it. Give the baby to her’ and the fake mom says ‘no, divide it!’ Ahh! Got ya. Solomon says ‘give the child to the one who did not want to divide it, the child belongs to her’. A few things, it just so happened that the last book we studied was Ecclesiastes, I didn’t plan it like that, it just ‘happened’. Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon. One of the verses I didn’t cover says Solomon wrote on all types of subjects and put together three thousand proverbs. Proverbs are short, concise bits/nuggets of wisdom that get the point across in a nutshell. While there are times when you need to read large volumes and stuff, yet wisdom allows you to cover a lot of content in a little space. In this case Solomon used his wisdom to quickly come to a conclusion that could not be refuted; Jesus did stuff like this with his parables. Notice also that after the judgment was made, there really was no ‘if, ands or buts’ about it. He was right and that settled it. I still have old preacher friends who can’t discern the most basic stuff. Now, I don’t want to be mean or condescending, but there comes a time where things are right or wrong. Many years ago I taught how leaders were making a serious mistake when they grasped on to the prosperity interpretation of Jesus parable of the sower [read the chapter ‘twisting the parable of the sower’ in the book ‘house of prayer or den of thieves’ on this site]. Basically many preachers, good men, were going around and teaching that Jesus was speaking about getting a huge harvest of cash. In the parable Jesus says one of the things that hinders the full harvest is ‘the deceitfulness of riches’, so I taught how Jesus was not saying ‘the deceitfulness of riches is holding back the cash’. Now, this is really elementary stuff, but some preachers still can’t discern this, after 20years! There comes a time when Solomon [Jesus] sends a judgment forth, and we ultimately become responsible for what we do with it. In this case, one of the ladies was right the other wrong. Solomon plainly told us who was telling the truth. [note- the other day as I was flipping channels, I stopped at a ‘prophetic’ brother who I haven’t watched in a while. In the past he has had some good words that were right on. But I felt that too many ‘prophecies’ were going forth on a yearly basis that were not really accomplishing anything ‘this year is the year of increase, Rebuke the demon of poverty’ stuff that was being repeated over and over hundreds of times, and yet the word of God was not being taught. Well on the program I tuned in on, the brother was saying how all the media complaints about Sarah Palin’s expensive wardrobe were ridiculous [I agree] but then he said that it was nothing but a ‘spirit of poverty’ that needed to be rebuked. Are there ‘spirits/demons of poverty’ no. At least we see no cases of Jesus casting out spirits of poverty in scripture. There comes a time when preachers/media outlets need to return to a sober message of the Cross. I believe in prophecy and miracles and have experienced many of these types of things over the years, but we need to stop being silly with some of this stuff.

(1049) 1st KINGS 2-The best way to describe this chapter would be ‘Solomon practices shock and awe’. The young king is given the charge by his father David to settle some old scores. Was David being vindictive? No, he realized that there were experienced ‘politicos’ who knew how to manipulate things to their own advantage, and they would do it at the expense of ethics [note- after all I have seen and learned these last few months, I believe president Obama, though a good man himself, is surrounded by men like this. His chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is a political insider from Chicago, he has already been involved with all types of insider political intrigue that is corrupt at heart]. So David advises Solomon to eliminate these threats and Solomon surprises the opposing team by acting decisively. He even kills Joab while clinging to the ‘horns of the altar’. His brother, Adonijah, who tried to claim the kingdom first, Solomon kills him because he requested to have King David’s maid servant after his death. Basically Solomon cleaned house and knew he would make some enemies in the process. Leadership can be tough at times, you might deal with people who are problematic, everyone knows they need to be dealt with! Yet after you deal with them, you become the bad guy! I get a kick out of people who absolutely hate and oppose me, they sincerely believe our challenges in certain areas are wrong. Then a few years go by, they read and listen to our stuff, and walla! They now think we are on the cutting edge, maybe [to them] even at the top of the list of teaching and understanding. Why do I not get excited about stuff like this? If someone can go from thinking we are a cult to thinking we are one of the best teaching ministries around, who in the heck knows where they will be in another year or two? Now don’t get me wrong, I am glad they came around, but I can’t put a whole lotta stock in this. Now, I have had friends who have been with us for years. To be honest, some of the stuff I teach is over their heads. But they were fruit from the basic years of outreach and evangelism. They identify me with the time in their lives where they were reached with the gospel. Times when I spent many hours helping them on their journey. These brothers are faithful and stick with us out of brotherhood. Solomon knew the difference, he was willing to sacrifice talent [Joab] and stick with those who would be loyal. [Note- sometimes you choose talent over loyalty. That is people do need to be able to handle the job, the point is if you can’t trust people, it doesn’t matter how talented they are, things won’t go well for you or the team that is depending on them]

(1048) 1st KINGS 1- David’s son, Adonijah, plots to take the kingdom and become king in his fathers place [after he would die]. He chooses a team of talented men to become his inner circle, he prepares chariots and gets a force together. David does not discourage him, he seems to be willing to let it slide. One problem, David’s son Solomon was chosen by God himself to be the next king. David’s key men, who were left out of the celebration ceremony that Adonijah threw for himself, realized that if they didn’t act quickly they would be left out in the cold. So Nathan tells Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, to go in to the king and tell him about the problem. Nathan then will go in after her and also confirm the bad news. Note, Nathan was a powerful prophet, he was the one who faced David head on about the sin he committed when sleeping with Bathsheba and killing her husband. But David is old and sick, even if Nathan took the risk to confront him again in a ‘thus saith the lord’ type thing, there was no assurance that David would listen. Or worse, tell him he has had enough of his ‘prophetic ministry’ and take his head off! Nathan chose influence and common sense to get his point across, he was even a little deceptive in the way he planned it out. David then tells his men ‘go, anoint Solomon as king’ David’s men prevail and they quickly form a new team around Solomon. Zadok, Nathan and Benaiah will be the Prophet, Priest and military commander. Now word gets back to Adonijah that Solomon has been anointed by David, their party ends abruptly and Adonijah flees for his life. These men [Adonijah and his team] had real hopes and dreams for their new administration, but God had other plans. A few things; was Adonijah in total rebellion in doing what he did? Not really, he was fourth in line to the throne, above Solomon. Remember, the Old Testament puts special weight on this seniority thing! And David never discouraged the boy. It’s very possible that Adonijah thought he had the green light in this thing. Solomon will take the throne and though he will become famous for his wisdom, he will also be pretty brutal in his first days as king. He quickly warns Adonijah and in the next chapter we will see him take swift and decisive action to route out his adversaries. I see a little too much personal ambition in Adonijah and his men. One of them was Joab, a great military leader with much experience. If you remember when we studied Samuel he also had his run ins with David. These men were playing party politics and positioning themselves for a ‘wonderful future’. The only problem was God wasn’t in it! I remember many years ago when a friend of mine ‘started a church’. He was quite a few years older than me, but still new ‘to the game’. He made the statement ‘God has now made all my dreams come true’. He innocently fell into the trap of seeing ministry and ‘church’ as some type of structure/business that God allows people to engage in, in order for them to ‘fulfill their dreams’. Adonijah and his men were excited about the launching of their new ‘career’s’ the wind went out of their sails when Gods ordained plan took precedence over their dreams.

(1046) ‘The words of the wise are like nails fastened by the masters of assemblies’ Ecclesiastes 12:11. A few years ago I studied much on the apostolic movement and prophetic stuff. Apostles relate strongly to the gift of wisdom, they are foundation layers of ‘assemblies’ [of believers!] Much of modern Christianity has a tendency to fellowship mainly within their own circle. On my blog roll you will find sites that are reformed, catholic, emergent and prophetic. This does not mean that I agree with everything these various streams teach, but for the most part they all have something profitable to add to the conversation. I recently read a few stories on ‘modern day apostles’ these are humble men who have ‘fathered’ large church movements in other countries. Simple, non famous brothers who are spreading the gospel and planting churches in a humble way. They relate to, and train, other men under them to also launch out and bring the gospel to other places. For all intents and purposes [or as some say ‘intensive purposes’!] these men fit into the category of modern day apostles. Some use the term missionary to describe them. God has placed ‘wise men’ in the church who have the Divine ability to ‘sink nails’ [words of wisdom/ the Cross] in strategic locals for the construction of assemblies [local communities of believers]. Part of the verse I didn’t quote says ‘nails given from one Shepherd’ these men specialize in the message of Christ, they really don’t waste a lot of time on all the ‘new revelation’ stuff that the American church is consumed with. I would encourage all my ‘more reformed readers’ to be more open to the gift of the apostle, they are not all nuts who run around with strange doctrines. Many of them are dedicated servants of the Cross who are gifted with great grace to ground the people of God on a sure foundation. Their words are divinely placed in strategic locations and they play a major role in building Gods assemblies, they carry the words/nails given by the great Shepherd.

(1038)‘The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding…for time and chance happens to them all. For man also knows not his time, as fish are taken in a net and birds caught in a snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it comes suddenly upon them’ Ecclesiastes 9:11-12. I was watching ‘King of Queens’ the other day, Arthur [Jerry Stiller] asks the waitress how much his coffee and donut will be, as he takes out his checkbook she says ‘never mind, it’s not worth getting a bad check for a few dollars’. Arthur is insulted! “How dare you” he then explains that his money was being transferred at the time in his ‘offshore accounts’. This reminded me of the time I had a renter who liked to bounce checks. He was an older brother who made more than me [as a firefighter] but couldn’t write a good check! So after a few months I wrote him a notice of eviction. He responded by telling me it wasn’t his fault the checks bounced, his money was in ‘off shore accounts’ [oh please!] It was funny, at the end of his response letter he says ‘sincerely, your brother in Christ’. This was the first time I had any inkling that he was a brother! So time and chance affect all of us, we can’t always control the ‘roll of the dice’. A few years back a bunch of guys lost money in their firefighter retirement funds, the guys at the station were all convinced by the stock guys to invest money in the stocks. Well, I looked at the papers and realized you could make a guaranteed 4%, tax free, from one investment. I was the only one who took this option. If you balance the risk of possibly making 5 % in the market [possible!] along with the risk of loosing it all, then why not do the fixed 4 % tax free? It comes to around 6 % with no risk of loss. It’s just common sense. Sure enough one of my buddies took my advice and did the same. Then the guys took a real hit, the stocks crashed and sure enough ‘time and chance happened to them’. As they were all mulling over their losses, my friend who took my advice was asked ‘how much did you loose’ he said ‘nothing’. He told them he took Johns advice. Now, even though we have little control over the global economy, we can make wise choices and prepare ahead of time. I have no idea why any sane person would stay in the market right now [2-09]. But people take bad advice, like ‘dollar cost averaging’ and say ‘well, if I just keep buying into a sinking ship, it will all average out some day’. I know of no other business where you are told ‘keep buying the bad product, someday it will average out’. While no one can time the market, you should be able to see storms coming. If you think the signs are saying ‘bad storm ahead’ then what in the heck are you doing on the ship! Solomon said there are events that we can’t control, many times we get ‘caught in nets suddenly’ things happen that are out of our control. These events happen to the wise, intelligent and fool alike. When stuff like this happens to you, don’t live in regret, but learn some lessons. Stop listening to the people whose living depends on you staying in a certain investment [like stocks!] I can’t tell you how many times I have heard these investors say ‘sure, you can invest in a C.D., but who can live on less than one percent interest’. While all the while you can be getting around 4 %, guaranteed! You see, people have listened to bad [biased] advice and have come up short. Well, the purpose of this entry is not to be ‘anti stocks’ but to show you we all need to re-evaluate at times. Many times ‘the same event happens to all’ because the wise are making the same bad decisions as the fool. Think ‘outside of the box’ hey, everyone in the box just might be wrong.

(1037)One of the themes of Ecclesiastes is ‘one event happens to all, both to him who sacrifices and to him who does not. Both to the poor and rich, the wise and foolish’. Solomon is writing from the perspective of ‘naturalism’, he sees only what is happening in the here and now. Even with this ‘worldly’ perspective he still favors the ‘God cause’. In essence it’s still better to obey and serve God than not to. Most believers are taught the virtues of standing strong in tough times, fighting the ‘good fight’ putting on that armor! The problem is these really mean little until the ‘rubber meets the road’. I am a boxing fan, love the sport. Most ‘observers’ have no idea how difficult/tiring it can be. Even other pro athletes will sometimes turn to fighting and not realize the strain of the game. I especially find it amusing when some TV star thinks he can do it because he’s ‘done it’ on screen. In the Christian life there are times when you realize ‘this is the season for sticking it out, for enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ’. All the stuff you learned and were taught was for this time, the knowledge of ‘blessed is the man that endures tests’ meant little, until this day! I like Evander Holyfield, he had the heart of a warrior. Was he ‘great’? Probably not, he was what you would call a ‘blown up light heavyweight’ he worked out and got big. I know in the later years it sure looked like he was a full fledged heavyweight, but in the beginning he wasn’t. In the skill department he was not spectacular. We often minimize Tyson’s career/skills because he finished bad. I have heard commentators say he will not go down in history as a great fighter. I must admit he blew it many times, but if you simply look at the few short years he was at the top of his game, he might very well have been the most devastating heavyweight ever! But when Holyfield faced Tyson, he was less skilled [in my mind] not as strong [heavy fisted] but he was enduring, and he had this trait where when you ‘got him in trouble’ [hurt] he became more dangerous! He would actually fight better when hurt! To all you brothers who are in round 11 [or 14 for the old guys- that’s when championship fights went 15 rounds instead of 12] I want to encourage you, now is the time when sticking it out matters. When you question whether or not all you have taught was right on or a little lacking. When the critics seem to have a hotline to your number. Solomon also says ‘don’t listen to every word spoken about you, or else you will hear people curse you. For you yourself know you have spoken badly about others as well’ wow! Today [or this week, month, year!] is a time to endure, not a time to ‘show those critics a thing or two’ but a time to show the heart of a warrior, to stand up against the so called ‘bigger, badder opponent’ and win on sheer guts. I do realize that in our own strength we can do nothing, but I am appealing to the New Testament command to endure some stuff, to recognize that one of the reasons of testing and trials is they can come as a result of our effectiveness, our calling. After Jesus was baptized by the Spirit by John [and the father] he did a 40 day stint in the wilderness, when he came out of the desert he had power. Hey, maybe the Lord is working on your strength factor.

(1032)‘A GIFT DESTROYETH THE HEART’ Ecclesiastes 7:7b Over the last few years I have read testimonies from Pastors who said they felt like they were unconsciously being manipulated to look good or perform for the community. Though they were well meaning, and the people they were ‘pastoring’ were also good people, yet the system of being a paid clergyman caused there to be a degree of inauthenticity. A famous quote of a quote [Frank Viola quotes another person in the book ‘Pagan Christianity’] says it’s hard to convince someone about something when their salary depends on them not being convinced! [paraphrase] So the actual position of being dependent on the offerings/tithes of people can put pressure on leaders to not deal with certain subjects. I have had fellow ministers over the years reject what I was saying simply because they felt it would affect their income. Their priority was on surviving. These men are not bad people, they mean well and don’t purposely want their message to be shaped by their dependence on a job/position. But in many cases the temptation is too great. Solomon said a ‘gift’ can corrupt the motives of people. While it is fine for ministers to receive financial help out of respect for their labor, yet we need to examine whether or not the salaried position of the fulltime minister is in keeping with New Testament ecclesiology. Are you tailoring your message by the support you bring in? Do you view success from the standpoint of material assets? Do you see ‘your ministry’ as a career choice? Lets all examine our hearts and motives, we might not be taking bribes in the classic ‘Mafia’ sense, but if we are allowing our financial support to effect the way we live and teach, then we are allowing our hearts to become ‘corrupted’.

(1031)ECCLESIASTES 7:19 ‘WISDOM STRENGTHENS A WISE MAN MORE THAN TEN MIGHTY MEN IN A CITY’- this chapter has a few good verses in it. It says it’s better to go thru some stuff than to live in continual ‘abundance’. Wise men have increased in the ‘house of mourning’. I watched some stuff on Lincoln the other day, it’s obvious that he grew in wisdom and stature as he battled depression and difficulty. His life’s motto was not ‘discover the champion in you’! When I went to Kingsville the other day I noticed our blog ad was not only running in the Kingsville Record, but also the Kingsville Journal. I am not sure how it got in there. I also have a bunch of papers lying around my office, papers from New Jersey and Houston and stuff. I have been getting some contacts from ‘former’ church members of years ago, they are on fire for the Lord. I kinda think they have friends who learned about us on their own and then they realized that they were talking about us. These old buddies see themselves as part of us, but many of them are not on-line geeks. So they run into other locals who follow us on-line and then they realize they are following our story. The point being ‘wisdom strengthens wise men more than ten mighty men in a city’. A few years ago I felt the lord said to start the blog and put the ad in regional papers. The ‘effort’ to do this was not as much as the various outreach projects I have been involved in over the years, but the results have gone much further. If you gave me ‘ten mighty men’ [employees/staff] and I sent them all over to effect the region, I don’t think they could equal the simple effect of me hearing and responding to the Lord in these simple ways. Now, we most certainly have ‘ten mighty men’ a group of both leaders and ‘regular saints’ [ouch!] who follow the journey, but they are a result of hearing and responding. The wisdom [ideas] from God have a greater effect than the efforts of men. Remember, the battle is not to the strong or swift, the victory comes from the Spirit of God. When we learn to listen and respond, the things we do will go far. When we put a lot of money and effort into stuff, without really listening, we get stuck with Ishmaels [something our govt. should learn!] Also, it is often in the ‘house of mourning’ [seasons of extreme difficulty] that God deposits the wisdom into you. Padre Pio [Catholic Priest] said ‘souls come with a cost, somebody has to pay the price’ are you willing to pay the price?

(1029)ECCLESIASTES- 5:1 KEEP THY FOOT WHEN YOU GO TO ‘THE HOUSE OF GOD’ [ECCLESIA] AND BE MORE READY TO HEAR THAN TO GIVE THE SACRAFICE OF FOOLS- Yesterday we had a good outreach day in Bishop and Kingsville [2 south TX. Cities] I had a few homeless brothers with me and we drove thru a few areas and hooked up with some of the brothers we have been working with for around 20 years. I am always tempted to answer more questions [speak more!] than I should. It’s important to let the brothers ‘do the talking’ they benefit more when there is a real give and take. I read this verse the day or so before the trip, it makes a lot of sense. To all my Pastor/leader friends, do you consciously make an effort to ‘keep silent’ when going to the ‘house of God’ [times of fellowship and community]? I know this needs to become learned behavior for many of us. We usually have grown up in a church environment that emphasizes the need for strong preaching, mounting the ‘sacred pulpit’ [double ouch!] and stuff like that. We are usually well intended, but we need to relearn some stuff. I was surprised how the homeless brothers shared many spiritual truths with clarity. One of the brothers does suffer from mental problems, he is extremely intelligent. He is a machinist who worked for many years in Ohio and knows his stuff. But he is a little unstable in his thoughts at times. Sure enough when he was sharing about the Lord one of the other brothers really took it to heart. On the way to back to Corpus I asked what they learned today. He said he really enjoyed being able to speak and help others. I could tell that this in itself was therapeutic for him, it truly is ‘more blessed to give than receive’. This is why Paul taught the interactive church meeting [Corinthians]. In the background there was a TV preacher on, my buddy put the Christian channel on for atmosphere. Some preachers were answering questions on the Rapture and all, it seemed to be ‘endless chatter’ on stuff that was not even true! I couldn’t but help wonder what the apostle Paul would have thought if he saw his writings being used in this way. On the TV there was no real sense of community, simply preachers telling people their endless views on various subjects. I am glad I tried to ‘keep my mouth shut’ as much as possible [hey, this is hard for preachers to actually do!] I too learned some good stuff.

(1025)GREAT AWAKENING- In between studies I have been reading the ‘shelf of books’ I bought a few months ago. I bought about 70 dollars worth of books at the half price book store, they are worth a few hundred at least. The last three I just went thru were published by universities; Oxford, Princeton, etc. I have learned over the years that your time is well spent in the ‘higher education’ category. You can spend a lifetime reading the popular Christian culture stuff and never really get educated. The book I just started is called ‘Revival and Revivalism’ it was put out by Princeton and covers the history of the first great awakenings. I want to give you a long quote from Samuel Davies, the son in law of Jonathan Edwards. The Lord used him in Hanover, Va. ‘In all the sermons I have preached in Virginia, I have not wasted one minute in reasoning against the peculiarities of the established church; nor so much as assigned my own reasons of non-conformity. I have not exhausted my zeal in railing against the established clergy, in exposing their imperfections, or in deprecating their characters. I have matters of infinite importance to spend my time and strength upon, to preach repentance towards God and faith towards Jesus Christ.’ ‘What an endless variety of denominations, taken from some men of character, or from some little peculiarities, has prevailed in the Christian world and crumbled it to pieces…what party names have been adopted by the Protestant churches, whose religion is substantially the same common Christianity, and who agree on much more important truths than in those they differ. To be a Christian is not enough now-a-days, but a man must be something more or better, that is he must be a strenuous bigot to this or that particular church…but to glory in the denomination of any particular church, as my highest character, to lay more stress on my denomination than on my being a Christian…to make it my zeal to win people to my peculiar denomination than to Christ, to overlook the faults of those in my own party and to be blind to the good in others, or to diminish them; these are the things that deserve condemnation from God and man. These proceed from a spirit of bigotry and faction, directly opposite to the generous catholic spirit of Christianity, and subversive of it. This spirit turns men from the important matters of Christianity, to vain jangling and competitions about circumstantials and trifles. Thus the Christian is swallowed up in the partisan, and the fundamentals are lost in extra essentials’ [I paraphrased a little] I find it interesting that Davies and the other leaders in the awakening were anti sectarian, though most of them were Presbyterian/Reformed, yet they saw their task above denominationalism. In Davies case the main denomination he came up against was the Anglican church, many in Virginia contrasted the traditional church with the ‘new light’ brothers. Many associated with the revivals were seen this way. You can still find prejudicial comments made against Catholics during this period, but I find it interesting that many of the revival leaders were aware of the sectarian spirit and saw it as a danger to the work of God. They warned against what many of their ‘offspring’ would become. I find it hard to understand how many of the offshoots of the awakenings can read and study their history and not see the error that their own fore-fathers warned them about. But for the most part God was working in their day and they were wise enough to rise above religious bigotry.

(1022)ECCLESIASTES Solomon said there was nothing new under the sun. During the 16th century reformation you had a number of ‘offshoot’ movements that sprouted. Some define these as the radical reformers. Groups like the Anabaptists [re-baptizers] and others. As you read the writings of many of these groups you find that they were definitely seeing truth for their day. George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, was hitting the nail on the head when it came to ‘church as the building’ he exposed the limited mindset that many believers embraced. He would refer to the churches as ‘steeple houses’. Many of these groups were deemed heretical for a myriad of reasons. The Quakers would embrace a belief that emphasizes the truth from the Spirit versus the letter of the law. Some would carry this to an extreme and associate all ‘head knowledge’ faith as wrong. Any doctrinal correction from the more reformed brothers was seen as ‘dead knowledge’ coming against Spirit truth. So they would get branded with the heretic title by some. The same goes for the Anabaptists and many others. The sad thing is many of these movements were partial ‘reformers’ in their own right. They had good things to add to the debate. If you read some of their writings you would think they were a few hundred years before their time. I have read scholarly works from Catholic theologians on the Ecclesia [church] and what she is. These works were right on! Even though the average Catholic might not be aware of them. So you find real treasure in many of these groups. Their really is ‘nothing new under the sun’. You should avoid a mindset that begins seeing ‘my group’ or ‘my way of seeing things’ as the true group, and the majority of other Christian groups as false. While it is easy to see whole mindsets of limited understanding that exist in the church at large, I feel it’s dangerous to grasp hold of an idea that says ‘90% of all Christianity is dead wrong, they have all been duped until now’. This is sort of like the teenager saying to dad ‘you’re so behind the times, my new way of seeing things is better than yours’. Most times the teenager later realizes that this was an overreaction. I think we all need to read the great writers of days gone by, Bonhoeffer wrote excellently on the communion of the saints. Our Church of Christ brothers had real truth on the church as the people. The Catholic mystics new that there was more to the Christian way than simple knowledge, they sought a real experience with God. As you enter into this glorious communion of the saints, there will be obvious blind spots that you can find in many of these writers, but maturity allows us to by pass the faults of others [love covers a multitude of sin] while receiving the valuable stuff. Avoid the strong ‘they are all wrong’ spirit, remember ‘there is nothing new under the sun’.

(1020)CORINTHIANS CONCLUSION- Paul concludes this long letter with a bunch of personal notes. He tells them that the Lord has opened up a great effective door for him at Ephesus and there are many adversaries. He wanted Apollos to make a visit but he did not want to at this time. He told them to go easy on Timothy because he was a fellow worker in the Lord. Overall Paul’s message to this church was one of true grace. I want to emphasize again [like we did when studying Romans and the other epistles so far] that one of the main themes of the first century apostles was belief in the gospel. Paul told these believers that it was believing in the message of the Cross that saves them. He defined the gospel as Jesus death, burial and resurrection. He encouraged them to live free as Gods community and to help each other out. Paul did not lay on them some type of guilt trip to become some high powered institution in order to ‘change their world’. He believed that the simple lifestyle of love and purity would be able to do the job. I see a contrast from the first century church and its simple gospel and today’s idea of church. Also notice how Paul was ‘planting’ these churches. He visited them, spent time with them, LEFT THEM, and continued corresponding with them thru letters and friends. In essence, first century church planting was simply establishing groups of people on the foundation of Christ. They were not organizing under some type of 501c3 model [I do realize they didn’t have this back then!] they didn’t see ‘church’ as some type of social group that you joined [Elks lodge type thing]. They actually were the church! I want to stress this theme as we continue teaching thru out the New Testament. Many times believers hold on to and embrace ideas that seem to be biblical [you can find a verse here and there type thing- proof texting] but when you see the whole story you get a better picture of what’s going on. Well I hope you guys got something out of this brief study, try and keep in mind the things that challenged you as we read thru this book. Did you see some things differently than before? Did some stuff get you mad? Did we challenge your belief system in some way? My goal is to encourage reformation in the church, not disorder! Take the new things you might have seen and implement them in Gods time. Those of your starting from scratch [first time church planters] can start with a clean slate and implement many of these ideas from day one, others who are already in ministry will have to take a more measured approach. Do all things as God leads and in his time. To all you ‘church members’ don’t take the stuff that you learned and use it to come against your ‘church’. Let God lead you on your journey and reform as God directs. It’s easy for some young rebels [or old!] to take the stuff on tithing and use it against your current church, that’s not our goal. Be patient with your pastors and leaders and allow God to use you as a force for change, not destruction. Well that’s it for now; I am not sure what study we will jump into next. Recently got some good emails and phone calls from some of our friends laboring in other towns, people I did not even know of, but who follow the ministry. Those of you out there who are following along, send me an email every now and then so I can see what type of growth we are having, the different regions we are impacting. Those of you who have launched home groups, let me know how things are going. God bless till next time, John.

(1016)JAMES AND HUMILITY- ‘Humble yourselves in Gods sight and he will lift you up’ ‘He gives grace to the humble’ I was reading a testimony from a reformed type brother who is also an excellent writer on the ‘out of the institutional church movement’. He shared how early in his Christian life he was grounded in truth, he eventually became more reformed in his thinking and pastored various expressions of church. He recalled a few divine appointments in life where he was confronted by truth in a new way. He pastored during the years right after the hippie movement of the late 60’s and he ran into a few simple believers who simply challenged him on why the meetings he was pastoring were centered around his speaking gift. These were simple believers who came to know the Lord outside of the traditional church and naturally developed along the lines of a community. Now the pastor was much more knowledgeable in all things religious, but his humility caused him to rethink his understanding of what these simple brothers said. So over a period of a few years he studied the scriptures with an eye for this type of thing. He realized that most of the examples of one person preaching to a group were actually evangelistic in nature. The times the brethren met for fellowship were in fact not centered around one persons speaking gift, he realized that the questions posed to him from the simple believers were right. So he made adjustments to his ministry. This example shows you the need we all have for true humility. This type of openness is rare in ministry today, most leaders would have simply dismissed the questions that the other believers asked. Most well trained educated men would see their background as a defense for their practices. This does not mean we have no need for a well educated church, in this mans case he still uses his knowledge and education as a benefit for the church at large, it’s just we all have a responsibility to respond to truth in Gods timing. I have read testimonies of ex-pastors who felt like they were filling a position of performance and ‘looking good’ and living up to the expectations of people in a way that was phony. Men who felt like they had to go to some other town to simply enjoy being a simple believer. They were carrying a weight of fame and expectation that they felt were not a real part of Christianity. It was more of a by product of the development of the hired clergy position that they held. So these men left the pastorate out of conviction and humbled themselves in the sight of the Lord. I don’t recommend this for all pastors who see and learn these things on their journey, but this is the correct response for some. I simply want to challenge you today on your response to being confronted with truth on your journey. Do you have a tendency to dismiss all criticism as wrong? Would you have judged the simple believers who challenged your mode of ministry as ‘less than you’? I know I have done this at times, had the wrong response when confronted with truth. I appreciate the pastors/leaders who read this site, my goal is to help all of you on the mission God has placed on your lives. Some of you will have different responses to the things we share, my goal is that we would all come to maturity and unity as a corporate people in Gods timing. I certainly do not advise all pastors to ‘close up shop’ and start from scratch, but to some this might be a real option. But in each case if we respond in humility God will give us more grace, this is something we can all use. NOTE- The brother I used in the above example is Jon Zens, his web site is on my blog roll, it’s called ‘searching together’.

(1015)‘THE LOCATABLE LOCAL CHURCH’? I remember how we were taught in the Baptist church that the local church is ‘locatable’ that it is a real ‘place’ that you could find when visiting a city. This tended to confuse the matter somewhat. In church history you can find teachings on the visible church versus the invisible church. Saint Augustine is famous for this distinction, as a matter of fact Augustine taught that it was possible [not probable] that a person who is a member of the visible church might not really be a believer, and that it was possible for someone to be a believer and not be a member of the visible church, though he did see this dynamic as a rare thing. Even some of today’s organic church teachings seem a little confused at times on this. They seem to indicate that a ‘locatable church’ means a home type meeting that you can find if you visit a particular city. While it is true that in the New Testament you most certainly could locate a home meeting [or temple one or one at the synagogue while Paul was teaching the local Jewish community- evangelistically] yet I prefer to see it like this. If I were to tell you that a wonderful community of people exist, let’s say in Houston. And I described these ‘Houstonians’ as being bright, progressive go getters. I explained to you that they are all real people who live and function as citizens of Houston. If you then studied the history of Houston a thousand years from now, how would you describe them? Were they ‘locatable’? Well yes, of course. If you went to Houston you would be able to most certainly ‘locate’ them. How? Well you would run into them at the store, see them shopping. Possibly playing ball at one of the parks. There are hundreds of ways to ‘locate them’. You would even be able to locate them at some home meeting [or church building]. But you certainly would not describe their ‘locate-ability’ [if this is even a word!] as being the home or building. They were/are locatable because they really exist as citizens from another place! So likewise I think it would be better to describe the ‘locatable, visible church’ as being the actual communities of people who reside in your area and are believers in Christ. Now, you should be able to locate a place where they meet and celebrate the Lords Table and stuff like that, but don’t confuse locating a meeting with the actual people themselves.

(1004)CORINTHIANS 13:11-13 WHEN I WAS A CHILD I UNDERSTOOD AND THOUGHT AND SPOKE LIKE A CHILD, BUT WHEN I GREW UP I PUT THOSE THINGS BEHIND ME- Paul shows us that we presently see and understand things thru ‘a glass’. God gives us insight and glimpses into Divine truth, but we need mercy because we all have limited sight. Over the years I know I have ruffled some feathers. Whether it be our teaching on what the church is, tithing, end times stuff. How New Testament believers should view the nationalistic promises made to Israel under the Old Covenant. I have found that the problem usually isn’t solved by simply proving something from scripture. For instance someone might become convinced by an ‘avalanche’ of information, they might actually see what I am saying. They can even articulate it to a degree [sometimes better than me!] but at the end of the day the answer to the problem is we all need to ‘grow up’. We need an overall change in the way we view things thru a legalistic lens. For instance, the tithe issue. Over the years I have taught the concept that believers are not under this law. Those of you who have read this site for any length of time know this. But I have also taught that it is fine to put 10% of your money into the offering on Sunday. It’s okay to support those who ‘labor among us’. But there are also many examples in the New Testament warning Gods leaders to not be in it for the money. Now, if we took seriously the mandate in Malachi to tithe. If we want to actually bind the believer’s conscience in this way ‘how are you robbing God? By not bringing in the tithes!’ Then we need to also look at the context. Israel as a nation was mandated to ‘tithe’ of their goods [not money] in three ways. They gave to support the Levites, also for the poor, and then they gave a tithe for religious feasts. In essence this ‘tithe’ was a total of around 30 % of their annual income, not 10%! [This by the way is right around what I spend on a monthly basis for the ministry stuff I do]. So, if we were telling people ‘you are going to be cursed if you don’t pay 10%’ we are actually misreading this verse. Also, how many believers think they are going to be cursed if they don’t ‘tithe to the poor’? Most modern preaching on the tithe simply puts it in the category of the Sunday offering. Most of this type of giving goes to support salaries, building upkeep, light bills, insurance for staff. I could go on and on. A very minute portion of this money [in general] goes to the poor. Certainly not a third! Also the portion that went to the Levites could not be used to purchase anything that would be owned by the Levite. They were forbidden to own any type of personal inheritance as Levitical priests. How often does the modern concept of tithing include this? The whole point is if we are going to bind peoples consciences in this way [which we shouldn’t] then we need to make sure we are at least teaching it right! Why bring this up? This is simply a good example of what Paul is saying. ‘When I understood in a limited way, I spoke and acted in a limited way’. The answer to the problem is simply ‘becoming mature in our thinking and speaking’. Recently I read an article from a U.S. congressman, he was speaking about the situation between Israel and Palestine. He sided with a military interpretation of the Old Testament promise to Abraham to ‘posses the land’ and used that to influence his political activism for war. How ‘mature’ is this type of thinking? Did any of the JEWISH apostles do this? No. So instead of trying to ‘crisis manage’ every single doctrinal problem, we really need to mature on an overall basis and view these doctrines thru the paradigm of Jesus and his life and work. Are we imitating his ethos when we do these things? Was this the primary message and life of Jesus when he walked the earth? How did he respond to Roman oppression and unjust govt.? Did he advocate military action in defense of the promises of God made to the nation of Israel? If we as the 21st century church do not ‘rightly divide’ these things, then we are of all men ‘most miserable’ [1st Corinthians 15].

(997) [Note- I stuck this in the leadership section because it is common for leaders to neglect a regular devotional time with the Lord. Leaders often fall into the trap of thinking ‘hey, I don’t need to set aside time with the Lord, or for prayer. I am doing the stuff all the time’ you still need personal time seeking God] JAMES 1:13-15 ‘LET NO MAN SAY WHEN HE IS TEMPTED “I AM TEMPTED BY GOD” [TEMPTED TO DO EVIL] FOR GOD CANNOT BE TEMPTED BY EVIL, NEITHER DOES HE USE EVIL TO TEST PEOPLE. BUT EVERY MAN IS TEMPTED BY HIS OWN SINFUL DESIRES. HE IS DRAWN AWAY BY THEM AND TRAPPED. THEN WHEN LUST IS COMPLETE IT LEADS TO SIN, AND SIN WHEN IT IS FINISHED GIVES BIRTH TO DEATH’ [my paraphrase] James already showed us that tests are good things, but here he makes a distinction between a test and sinful lusts. It is never Gods process to test people to lust. This desire is imbedded in sinful man. Proverbs warns us to avoid ‘the harlot’ it says many strong and mighty men have been slain by her ‘by her a man is brought to a piece of bread’. How come strong men have been pulled down by her, not weak men? The point is once you allow the process to begin [being drawn away by your own lusts] then no matter how strong you are, you will lose! James teaches us that this process is a ‘three fold cord’. Scripture says 3 fold cords are not easily broken. I just finished a regular prayer time, to be honest praying for around an hour and a half seems very easy. It wasn’t that way at the beginning of my Christian life, but after doing it for around 20 plus years, it’s a simple routine. I am now in ‘stage 2’ of my normal daily routine; I am writing/teaching. Stage 3 will be when I clean the house [yes, being I am retired I do about an hour of cleaning every morning] during this time I review future radio messages and also listen to good teaching on c.d.’s or radio [theological stuff]. All in all I get a good 3-5 hours of daily prayer/teaching/studying in. yes I also read both scripture and books as well [once again the books are usually scholarly works of some sought. I try to avoid simply reading stuff that’s popular in the Christian bookstores ‘how I lost weight, made a million’ or whatever]. The reason I share this is to tell you that after you establish godly ‘3 fold cords’ [habits of righteousness] it’s hard to break them! Now, the same goes for ungodly cords. I have known [and experienced!] ungodly habits in life. Sinful stuff that’s hard to break. I have also noticed how many of my good friends who are addicted to hard drugs, many of them are extremely smart, they have talents, and all in all they could have been successful in life. But the enemy [and their choices] hooked them at a young age. People learn habits early in life. If you take someone at the age of 18-23 and train them in some addiction/habit, it sticks with them for life [until they allow God to break the cords]. Many of my buddies established habitual sin habits and these have dogged them for life. We all struggle with stuff and I don’t want to give the impression that it’s just ‘those people’. Now James tells us that God can break this process. James teaches us the wisdom of being ‘doers and not hearers only’. God breaks stuff when you decide to act and function toward his purpose on a daily basis. James will say ‘true religion is visiting the fatherless and widows and keeping yourself clean from the world’. Note the order, first commit to do good works, then avoid sin. There is a scripture that says ‘commit your works unto the Lord and your thoughts will be established’ [Proverbs?]. We learn the lesson of establishing habitual patterns of righteousness to go along with our head knowledge of truth. Do you have ‘cords’ that you are struggling to break? Have you established righteous cords [habits] that flow thru out your week? I don’t want to be legalistic about this, Jesus is the only one with the power to deliver a person from sin, but there are practical righteous habits that God wants you to engage in on a regular basis. You might not pray and study for 5 hours a day! But you can have a regular devotional time [even if it’s only 30 minutes a day] and stuff like this will make a difference. Learn to nip it in the bud when it comes to temptation, once you allow lustful desires to rule, it always ends up in death, even strong men are brought down by it.

(996)1ST CORINTHIANS 12:27-31 Lets talk about ‘the fivefold ministry’ [some say four]. In the 90’s there was a real interest in this subject. It comes from this portion of scripture [and Ephesians 4]. The basic teaching is/was that God was restoring all these ministries [Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers- some see this as one combined gift] and that this restoration was one of the final things to happen before Christ’s return. I read and bought lots of books on church planting and how Apostles are gifted to ‘plant churches’. This teaching really wasn’t a new thing. Back in the 1800’s you had Edward Irving head up an apostolic movement called ‘the apostolic catholic church’ [Irvingites]. You had interesting folk like John Alexander Dowie who would start a modern city of God called ‘Zion’ in Illinois. Brother Dowie saw himself as an apostle and felt the Lord lead him to start an apostolic city. You can still visit the city today. It was also common for many ‘up and coming’ preachers to begin seeing themselves as ‘apostles/prophets’ and actually advertise their callings in this way. Well of course the old time brothers who reject the gifts all together, saw this as another sign of the end time apostasy. You also had a strange phenomenon take place. It was common for ‘apostolic/prophetic’ people to be taught ‘the missing ingredient is covering and authority’- the churches are weak because they are under pastoral authority, they don’t have apostles ‘covering them’ [ouch!]. So it was not uncommon to have respected men kind of stepping over the normal boundaries of relating to churches and to say things like ‘you need to do this’ ‘you over there, be quiet. I don’t give you permission to speak’ and stuff like this. These sincere men thought it their responsibility to act this way. They felt this was a part of the restoration of apostles. Now, do apostles exist today [and prophets]? To be honest with you, yes. If you read this section along with Ephesians chapter 4, it is next to impossible to teach that they passed away in the first century. These scriptures make it clear that after Jesus ascended he gave ‘some apostles, others prophets’ they are included in the list of evangelists, pastors and teachers. If you lose one gift, then you lose them all. Also the timing of their ministries is given ‘till we all come to the unity of the faith unto a perfect man’. These gifts are all given to build Gods people up until we come to fall maturity. We aint there yet! So it’s pretty obvious that these gifts exist. Those who believe they don’t exist usually refer to the fact that the apostles of the Lamb [a category unto itself] did pass away. They will show you the truth of these apostles having to have been witnesses of Jesus actual resurrection. But these are a different category of apostles. The ones in this chapter were not even ‘made’ until after Jesus ascended on high. The same for the prophets. So, what do these strange fellows do? In all the books and stuff I have read on these movements, I feel some have been too limited in their definitions. Some taught that they were primarily itinerant men [traveling church planters]. Of course Paul was the master at this. But you find James as a stable pillar of the church at Jerusalem. Peter did travel, but he was no Gentile church planter like Paul! And Timothy in the New Testament had an apostolic type gifting, yet he was a protégée under Paul. So for the most part apostles do carry a special ability to ground Gods people in truth. Those who are called to ‘plant churches’ need to be more in tune with the example of Paul. Many modern day ‘apostles’ see church planting as going to a region and organizing Christians to meet in certain ways. I have heard it said ‘I have planted an organic church’ ‘I have planted a home group’ or of course the standard ‘I have planted a building based church’. The main ‘church planting’ of Paul was bringing the gospel to UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUPS and evangelizing those groups. Now of course he did give instructions to them on ‘how to meet’ [like in this book we are reading!] But don’t confuse ‘church planting’ with organizing believers around a new way to meet. All in all God gave us these gifts to build each other up and bring us to maturity, a place where we are no longer dependent on these gifts to function. I feel one of the greatest dangers was the strong authoritarian mindset that some of the apostolic brothers had, they meant well, but they stepped over their boundaries at times.

(994)1ST CORINTHIANS 12: 12-26 Paul uses the analogy of a body to describe the church. Keep in mind that the ‘church’ in Paul’s writings mean ‘all Gods people in the region/city’. Not just the gathered assembly! It’s important to make this distinction because much of the talk on the restoration of the organic church versus the institutional church focuses too much on the way believers meet. Here Paul is saying ‘you are all individual distinct members in the local community, you express Christ in various ways, though you have unique gifts you also are part of one corporate expression of Christ in your city’. The distinct gifts function in your community, not just in the meeting! [Whether it be the Sunday building type thing or the living room!] Paul also tells them to be on the guard for the ‘one member dominating the group’ expression of church. If everyone is centered on one particular gift then the corporate expression of the Body of Christ is diminished. Or if everyone saw ‘full time ministry’ as being a modern Pastor then you would have too many sincere believers all seeking to serve God in a limited way ‘if all were an eye, ear, mouth [speaking gift]’ then where would the Body be? I find this chapter to be a key chapter in the current reformation of modern church practices. As Gods people strive for a more scriptural expression of ‘being the church’ we need to keep this chapter in mind. Now, a word for the strong organic church brothers. The fact that Paul encourages a corporate expression in the church does not mean the gatherings of Gods people must be leaderless. Paul includes the concept of Elders in his writings. To be sure these men were not to dominate the meetings, or be the weekly speaker on an ongoing basis. But some hold to a type of idea that the way the church is supposed to testify of the ‘headship of Christ’ is by demonstrating a human leaderless church. That is God ordained the local bodies of believers to have no functioning human leaders in order to show forth Christ’s headship. To be honest I don’t see this in scripture. I see leaders in plurality [never a one man show] and Paul was not afraid to tell Titus and Timothy to ‘ordain’ [recognize!] Elders in the church. But the overall instruction in this chapter is God wants all of his people to function on a regular basis in the Body of Christ. This of course includes the gatherings, but it is not limited to them. The primary way we ‘show’ the world the Lordship of Jesus is by the selfless love we have one for another. When we daily live charitable, sacrificial lives, this demonstrates the ‘headship of Jesus’ over the church. The way believers meet has some effect on this, but most of Jesus instructions to the disciples was on how they would go out into the world and bring the great message of the kingdom to society. The primary ‘battlefield’ of the church militant is the world, not the meeting place!

(992)JAMES 1: 2-4 ‘Count it all joy when you fall into various temptations [trials] knowing that the testing of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work [completeness, the end of ‘a thing’] that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing’. When I first started this blog, I was surprised that brothers from Africa quickly found out about us. I kinda thought that all the invites from the continent were part of the scams that go on incessantly on line. I can’t tell you how many ‘Dear brother, I am a Christian millionaire trying to free up my millions in the U.S.’ or something like that type pleas that I get. It usually gives them away when they spell something like ‘Godd blees yeo’. Yes, I admit I have responded at times by saying ‘I hate to inform you but I am an undercover F.B.I. agent, we have traced your computer to its location. YOU WILL BE EXTRADITED TO THE U.S. SOON!’ I quickly ask the Lord to forgive me after I send it off. But the African contacts were legit. The reason I am even mentioning this is because I feel the Lord has a purpose for messages like ours to go out to the nations. Not ‘my message’ per se, but the basic return to a Christ oriented gospel. Africa has gone thru a few decades of becoming ‘Christianized’ by the American gospel. The most prevalent strain of American Protestantism on the continent is the prosperity message. I don’t know if you knew this or not, but it is common to find African churches that are saturated with the prosperity gospel. Now, after all I have written and taught over the years on the abuses of this type of message, yet I do not see this development as totally ‘from the devil’. I believe it to be possible for the Lord to have used the basic message of self reliance, believing God to improve your economy, a basic message of ‘you can do it’ as a foundation for future growth. That is many Africans needed to be told ‘God does have a future and a hope for you and your continent, start believing and trusting God to turn things around’. But after the ‘elementary teachings’ of this type of message are laid, then the ‘more mature’ message of Christ’s calling needs to come in and build upon the basic self help gospel. So, James says ‘count it a blessing when you go thru stuff, God is working things in you, he is bringing you to a point of completeness in your life. Don’t look at all the trials as things from the enemy that must be rebuked, God allows trials for your personal growth and development’. There is a Christian message that teaches us that the Lord brings us to maturity thru difficult things. The basic message of ‘self help’ has an ethos that says ‘Confess, rebuke and apply all the bibles procedures and you will grow’. Much of this message has you rebuking the God ordained tests! Yes, we don’t like the tests. When the big test day comes along [or all the little ones] it can be nerve racking. So modern psychology says ‘lets avoid the pressure that tests put on people. Lets just tell little Tommy ‘you spelled the word the way you felt it should be spelled’ [Ouch!] I want to encourage you today, God has brought you thru some things for your own growth and benefit. You might look back ten years from now and think ‘Thank God I went thru those tough times, they allowed me to avoid going thru years of teaching and believing a limited gospel’. To all my preacher friends who read this site, God wants to ground you guys in some basic Christian truth, things that are foundational to our call in the kingdom. It is all too common for successful ministries to be built on self help principles. After many years go by this self help message can become too self centered, the people need to be taught ‘count it all joy’ once again.

(989)TRIBUTE TO SHELBY [January 2009]- A few posts back I mentioned my homeless friend ‘painter Bill’. He was very sick and I thought he might have died. Sure enough he made it, with some extra equipment! [They put a pace maker in him]. But sad to say my friend Shelby passed away this week. I have known Shelby for a few years, he was around 70 and had an interesting story. He at one time owned and operated an independent news paper. He got in debt and eventually lost his business and property. Though I never saw Shelby drink, or drunk, yet the word was he battled with alcoholism. After I befriended Shelby he went thru a ‘mini revival’ type period. I took him with me to Kingsville and Bishop for fellowships with some of the brothers. He went thru a period of renewal and excitement about the things of the Lord. It kind of surprised some of the local pastors who knew him. He would give testimonies about the simple things we were doing, to him it meant a lot. He shared with me how in the 70’s he ran a ‘hippie bus ministry’ for a church somewhere in Texas [Austin area?]. How they had some miracles and stuff happen. One time they were driving to some revival or something, they needed money for fuel. They stopped at some Pentecostal church and before they could say anything some Pentecostal/Prophet type brother said ‘the Lord sent you here so we could give you the money for your trip’. One of those common prophetic things that happens every so often. At one time I added Shelby’s articles to my tape/book catalog [I think it’s still on there?] though it was a simple thing, it meant allot to him. The last few months I didn’t get with Shelby as much as I wanted to, I think he got a little offended about it. You can tell when the brothers are mad, they don’t hide it like the ‘rich folk’. They let you know. I let it slide and eventually he got over it. The last few months he also had a renewed vision for starting a Christian paper. I was going to help him, kept an eye out for a used typewriter and stuff [he didn’t want to mess with computers]. He shared with me the plans on getting a used car and starting the paper from his room. He was living at the time with some Christian friends of mine who have a communal type home. I had Shelby over a few times to the house, he saw my cats and dogs and loved them. We have a little blind dog named Molly, he would always ask about her. Shelby just started getting Social Security about a year ago, though he was eligible, he put off applying for it. He was getting around 700.00 a month and he was trying to get a permanent place to stay. I am glad that Shelby had a personal revival in his life right before he died. The few simple things we did together made him proud. He would tell his daughter about it and stuff. I had the sense that after many years he began hoping again, sort of like the Lord was going to use him after feeling hopeless for many years. Shelby was a good man, a good friend of mine. Goodbye my friend. [I stuck this here because Jesus challenged us to be ‘servant leaders’ I think we often overlook what that means]

(987) SPOT THE TREND LINES- One of the themes of proverbs is reproof, correction. Proverbs teaches us that correction/reformation are noble things. Fools despise it, wise men take it to heart. Over the years of dealing with controversial issues in the church, I have found different responses from good men. Most leaders do not initially appreciate correction, they [we] have a tendency to want to use our knowledge and experience as an excuse to not receive correction. We often defend our positions by thinking ‘look how many other men/leaders are doing it [it being whatever area you feel threatened in] so I am at least in good company’. While there is some truth to this [being in the majority] this doesn’t work well when there is a groundswell of reformation on the horizon. For instance, during the 16th century Reformation, I am sure the new reformers looked and acted like contrarians at the time. There were many good catholic priests doing their best to serve the Lord in the limited understanding of the ancient church. I am sure many of these men simply steered clear of Luther and his ‘rebels’ but ultimately God was wanting change! So today we have certain undercurrents of reformation, sure not all the current trends fall into this category, but some do. So leaders should be open to correction or reproof coming from a broad range of influential men. Over the years I have spotted ‘trend lines’, certain changes that I see/hear from a wide range of Christian expressions. When I see them coming ‘from afar off’ I try and make the adjustment before the trend ‘hits the fan’. This is another wisdom nugget from Proverbs, a wise man sees the change coming and prepares himself, the simple pass on and make no adjustments. Another important characteristic is the ability to ‘not change’ too fast or too much! ‘Meddle not with those who are given to change’ reformation takes time and is a process. If I learn or see some knew area of truth that most of my contemporaries don’t see yet, then it would be foolish to think that God has called me to ‘straighten them all out’. God often shows you ‘the trend lines’ so you in wisdom can plant certain seeds that will keep the other leaders on track as the train moves along. In essence your job isn’t to say ‘see, I know more than so and so’. Your job is to be open to avenues of influence that eventually bring ‘correction/course change’ to the rest of the body. I felt like the word for today was for us to re examine the reproofs that we might have heard over the years. Does it seem like we keep hearing the same reproof from different voices thru out our lives? Maybe there’s more to it than just a bunch of disgruntled believers. Wise men take note and seek God for his timing in the course change, foolish men make no adjustment.

(985)1ST CORINTHIANS 12:7 ‘But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to EVERY MAN to profit EVERY BODY’. I want to share a criticism that sometimes gets made against me. I know ‘the critics’ mean well, and are actually sincere men. It’s just they have been ‘shaped’ by the present system of ‘church’. The criticism goes like this ‘sure John has an effective teaching ministry [blog/radio] but if you need someone to come pray for you, lets see if he will come’. The idea is that the true legitimate ‘elders’ are those you can ‘call for’. James says ‘if any one is sick among you, let him call for the elders of ‘the church’. They see ‘the church’ as the actual 501c3, building, Sunday meeting [storehouse] type thing – they are simply seeing thru their ‘lens’. What James is simply saying is ‘if someone is sick in your community/local body of believers, call for the elders [more spiritually mature ones] and let them pray for you and anoint you with oil’. Now, I have personally spent many thousands [yes thousands!] of actual man hours on the streets helping people. I have helped and given to some of the local homeless population who attend some of these ‘churches’, out of my own pocket. Yet these same homeless brothers are encouraged to give ten percent of their money to ‘their church’. What am I saying here? I know the men who level this type of accusation are often intimidated by peer pressure and stuff. But the verse above says ‘the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every believer to profit every one around them’. The biblical view of ‘church’ would simply require all believers to ‘administer the gift’ in a way that would profit all those around them. There is no need to make these types of distinctions between ‘the elders of our church’ or ‘the spiritual leaders in our region’. They mean the same thing. So see your gift as a freely received charism that should be used unselfishly for the benefit of others. Also some Pastors do seem to come around to ‘my view’ after many years of hearing us. They might then try and do some city wide ministry, open to all the body. Then if the results are not good, they can become discouraged also. Understand, many of these men took many years before they could really see what we were saying, don’t expect a majority of local believers to see things that took you years to see! The paradigms don’t come down that easily.

(981)TRIALS/END TIME STUFF- As I was praying this morning I was meditating on what verse to share. Sure enough as I was listening for guidance, I remembered that right before I woke up I had a dream. In the dream I picked up a green Gideon’s bible and read from James. I think it was ‘Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life’. I have been reading a scholarly work on the book of Revelation. Much better than the more popular ‘prophecy teachers’ stuff! The author is a little too Preterist for me, but overall very good. Preterism is the view that sees all of the prophetic end time passages thru a historical view. They teach that everything already occurred, even the final resurrection and judgment verses! I think the modern popular view is too futuristic, that is they seem to take most of the book and try and ‘news paper prophecy’ the thing. I see John’s work as primarily dealing with kingdoms in conflict. The kingdoms of the world warring against the kingdom of God. So he most definitely has Rome and her emperors in view. But this does not mean that John’s vision is limited to Roman leaders. The book can have meaning for believers in every age as they deal with ‘Babylon’ [the world] and the ‘kings of the earth’. So I see both a present reality [present for John’s actual readers who lived in the first century] and a future application. And of course I see the second coming of Christ and the final judgment as future! Now John was ‘on the island of Patmos for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus’. John was a partaker, along with the suffering church, of the trials and difficulties of the first century church. His banishment to Patmos [an island off modern day Turkey, in the Aegean Sea] , most likely by the emperor Nero, was for the purpose of ‘the word of God and testimony of Jesus’. He was being persecuted for the faith, but also for the purpose of receiving and writing down God’s word. Jesus says in John 17 ‘I sanctify myself and ask that they would be sanctified too. I sanctify myself for their sakes. I have given them the words you gave me.’ [my paraphrase] Jesus had a task to get certain words from the father to the elect, he fulfilled the task! John had some trials and things to deal with, it was part of the cost. I felt the Lord wanted to encourage some of you today, you are going thru stuff ‘because of the word of God and testimony of Jesus’. You are being ‘targeted’ because of your destiny! In the gospels Jesus says ‘when the word comes then tribulation and persecutions arise’. One of the strategies of the enemy is to come against you hard ‘after the word comes’. Once God has revealed and made plain to you the purpose and vision, then the enemy works overtime to stop you. He doesn’t want you to ‘deliver the word/purpose’ to those that the father has given you out of the world. Your trials and difficulties are a direct attempt of the enemy to stop you from getting the message out! Don’t take it personal.

(979)PROVERBS 28: 22 and 27- ‘HE THAT HASTETH TO BE RICH HAS AN EVIL EYE AND CONSIDERS NOT THAT POVERTY SHALL COME UPON HIM….HE THAT GIVES TO THE POOR SHALL NOT LACK’. I just finished making a radio program and wanted to share some stuff from my Proverbs reading. I still have the original cheap second hand desk that I bought over 20 years ago in Kingsville. I think I paid 20 bucks for the thing. Though it’s ancient and looks ‘crappy’, it still gets the job done. Over the years I have learned that it can be exciting to amass wealth. Yes even believers can ‘sanctify’ the pursuit of wealth, that is justify it’s pursuit by thinking ‘I am going after money and riches so I can fund kingdom ventures’! While God certainly uses rich people to do his will, the overall ethos of the kingdom is one where you choose not to pursue the wealth of the world, you instead pursue ‘spiritual riches’. This contrast can be found all thru out scripture [read my section on ‘word of faith- prosperity gospel’]. Paul actually tells Timothy ‘those that desire to be rich will fall into a snare’. Notice, Paul doesn’t say ‘unless they desire riches for kingdom things’. He simply says the pursuit of wealth is a deadly game, don’t be ‘wise in your own eyes’ and think that you can tame the monster! Recently the stock market had another one of the worst crashes in history. How many ‘pursuers of wealth’ had ‘poverty come suddenly upon them’? Another verse says ‘don’t set your eyes on wealth, they make themselves wings and fly away’. Ouch! As I sit here and type this entry I will be dropping of 3 months worth of radio messages in a little while. I made them from a cheap recorder purchased from radio shack. I store them in my cheap desk that I bought years ago. I am sitting on used furniture that I bought 25 years ago! I furnished my study/office with it. But yet I have a study filled with excellent books that I purchased over the years. Year’s worth of radio teachings that cost me next to nothing to make. I gave one of my homeless buddies a little money the other day. I take no offerings and spend a little under half my monthly retirement income on ministry stuff. To my amazement the Lord has allowed us to have real impact in a large region, and it’s done on a shoe string budget. ‘He that gives to the poor shall not lack’. Don’t seek to become rich, the scripture forbids it. Give to the down and out, give your life away. Be a servant of people, God will reward you and you will have enough to get the job done.

(975)PROVERBS 27:1 I made some plans to go to Kingsville last week. The morning I woke up I felt the word of the Lord to me [during prayer] was ‘Boast not thyself of the morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth’ [James]. Sure enough I got sidetracked and had to cancel. The next day I read Proverbs chapter 27, the spot where I left off last. I am kinda just reading a chapter at a time over a few month period. The first verse is the same one I just quoted from James! God does speak in stereo. I also read a good article from my January [2009] issue of Christianity Today magazine. It was an excerpt from a new book titled ‘Brand Jesus’. Exposing the dangers of ‘marketing Jesus’ as a product. It was good. I just felt like the word of the Lord today was for us to be careful when we ‘boast of tomorrow’. When we plan great goals [which is not wrong in itself] which seem to be ‘Christian goals’. As I am writing this entry I can hear a Christian song from my TV in the other room. The singer is singing about the temptation of being a singer and glorying in the spotlight! It seems funny that he is sharing this struggle [of self glory] thru this medium. The point being it’s easy to ‘Christianize’ our self motivations. To approach ‘Jesus’ as a brand product that can do something for you. Improve you in some way. Maybe he can carry us to stardom and fame, hey he wants us to fulfill our desires doesn’t he? Well actually not the way the contemporary church preaches it. A main theme of New Testament Christianity is learning to lay down your desires and wants for a greater purpose. Now, this greater purpose will wind up being more fulfilling than what you thought you wanted. That’s why ‘your desires’ are not a good measurement of the purpose of God. He that seeks to save his life [get what you think is best] will lose it. He who learns the secret of giving up his life [carrying the Cross, self denial] will find it. What are you ‘boasting about’? Where do you ‘see yourself’ ten years from now? Remember, we as believers do not measure success and fame the way the world does. Our reward is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior. I know this sounds ‘corny’ and old fashioned, but sometimes we need to be reminded about this type of lifestyle. We spend so much time boasting about our dreams and goals, Jesus gets lost in the background as some product who can help me achieve ‘all that I can be’.

(970) CORINTHIANS ‘woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel’ ‘they which preach the gospel should live by the gospel’. Let me do a quick review before we jump into chapter 10. Over the years of re-learning the style and function of the New Testament church, it took time to read these scriptures without superimposing my preconceived ideas upon the text. For instance, you could easily read these verses and simply fit them into the ‘church building’ [as the church!] mindset. I know of, and have partaken of, the excitement that preachers experience when they ‘preach the gospel’. It’s a fulfilling thing. But the problem is much of the present day church follows a program where one main person becomes the attraction of the community. We live and hear and vicariously learn thru the growth experiences of a single individual. Now, we don’t realize that this is not the main intent of meeting together as a community. God originally intended for his people to share as a community of grace. There are specific warnings in the New Testament to avoid the Christian community’s penchant to identify around an individuals giftings [we actually just covered some of these in this study]. But when we simply read ‘they which preach the gospel should live of it’ we think this is justifying the present day context. It really simply meant that those in the community with the ability to read and teach should be taken care of while they are giving themselves for the benefit of others. The first century believer’s could not all read, the majority probably were illiterate. This created a need for those who were literate to actually read Paul’s letters out loud in the assembly. These sincere men were not modern day full time Pastors! This is why it’s important to read the scripture with historical context in mind. When I meet with the brothers, or travel to another town. I usually simply ask the guys ‘what’s the Lord been saying, do you have a word to share’? And sure enough, by the time our fellowship is over most everyone feels edified because they gave of themselves for others. One of my homeless friends is an excellent teacher. Believe me, he knows more scripture than many Pastors. He excels in this environment. There is really no need for one person [like myself!] to dominate the conversation, or to think that my calling entails me being the primary voice of the community. Sometimes when I find myself at some Christian function, I can tell that when people find out that you speak on the radio, that they kinda want you to preach. I always [yes always!] avoid it. Not because it would be wrong to teach, but the modern church has made such a profession out of it, that the average saint never really expresses himself on a regular basis. God never intended the church to be a place where people learn and grow and experience most of their Christian lives thru the experiences and gifts of one person. I just wanted to challenge you today with these few verses. When you just read them did you see them thru the old mindset? Don’t feel bad about it, just allow the Lord to ‘re-wire’ your brain as we continue to teach thru the New Testament. We finds stuff like this all the way thru.

(969)1ST CORINTHIANS 9:15-27 I have a letter sitting here from some northern radio station. I guess these guys hear us some how? It’s a great offer to be on 140 stations for next to nothing [$140.00 a month]. I have had radio stations write us before. I choose to stay small so I can be consistent in not taking offerings. I am sure if I took offerings I could easily expand like this, but I think I need to set the example for others. This fits in with the following.
Now Paul will say ‘I would rather die than take money from you’ [and you guys think I’m an over reactor!] and also ‘I don’t take money from you because I want to make the gospel free of charge’. Remember, this is in the same chapter where he says it’s okay to support leaders financially. But yet he also makes these strong statements. Does Paul contradict himself? Some have tried to harmonize these statements by either saying Paul wasn’t really teaching the financial support of elders, or by saying Paul only restricted taking money from the Corinthians. Both of these are not true [Read my Acts 20 study]. Paul was hard on whatever group he was addressing. If he is speaking directly to the local saints, he says ‘you should make sacrifice and support those who labor among you’ but to the elders/leaders he says ‘I worked with my own hands while among you [elders!] to give you an example not to expect the people to support you’ [Acts 20]. He appeals to both sides to lay down their rights and give themselves away freely! He also says he adapts to every type of situation, he ‘becomes all things to all men, that he might save them’. He also brings his body under discipline so that after preaching to others, he himself will not be ‘cast away’. In my Proverbs reading I just came across ‘he that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls’. God wants you to succeed and accomplish things, the enemy wants to sidetrack you. Allow God to have the upper hand, let the fruit of ‘self control’ [one of the fruits of the Spirit] abide in you. Now remember, Paul says ‘they do it to obtain a corruptible crown’ [material, temporary stuff. Money included] but we do it [discipline ourselves] for an ‘incorruptible crown’. The scripture is filled with examples that contrast money [material rewards] with true spiritual riches. In these examples the scripture teaches us to expend our time and efforts in building a spiritual heritage as opposed to a financial one. Yet some will even use this scripture ‘running the race’ and apply it to stuff! Ahh, when we do stuff like this we are ‘reading/quoting scripture’ without truly knowing it. Jesus told the religious leaders ‘you search the scriptures because by doing this you think you have eternal life, but you will not come to me that you might have life’. It’s possible to spend your whole life searching scripture [for what you want] and still miss the chief cornerstone! [the main point]

(967)PROVERBS- Up early praying and stuff. A few years back when I started writing this blog I never thought I would write so much! I just took the spot where I was reading thru my yearly schedule and began teaching it. It’s really easy to be honest. Sometimes I just do a brief reading and then sit down and write [actually all the time- note that I always pray/meditate for at least one hour prior to writing. Scripture [actually Proverbs!] says ‘write the commandment on your heart [teachings of your father- Gods Word] and bind the tradition around your neck’ [teaching of your mother- church history and stuff]. When you do this it will ‘keep you when you lay down, guide you when you go out, and speak/talk to you when you wake up’. I am not advocating slack studying before preaching, I am advocating that you fill your mind and spirit continually, then when ‘the spot light hits you’ your ready!]. This keeps me from my old routine of reading and meditating slowly. So I try and read other devotional sections of scripture at the same time. I am doing Proverbs right now, I like the wisdom literature. The Old Testament can be divided into three sections; 1- Wisdom literature 2- The law 3- The Prophets. The ‘keeper’ of the law is the Priest, the Prophets are of course the Prophet. The wisdom literature; Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Job and Psalms [James in the New Testament] are associated with the ‘Sage’ or wise man [Apostle]. So Maybe during our ‘down time’ [days where I purposely don’t teach! Because it’s so routine to just get up, pray and teach that it can become a rut. I don’t want to brag, but I am two years ahead of schedule on all our radio broadcasts. I have around 630 individual radio messages already done!] So maybe I will just hit high points from these devotional readings. I recently read ‘LABOR NOT TO BE RICH, CEASE FROM YOUR OWN WISDOM’. I originally felt like just quoting it and saying ‘look! What is he saying now? Hear we go again on his anti prosperity campaign!’ And then responding ‘why brothers, I didn’t say anything, I just quoted scripture’. Well, I guess I just did it. ‘WISDOM BUILDS HER HOUSE, UNDERSTANDING ESTABLISHES IT AND BY KNOWLEDGDE SHALL ITS CHAMBERS BE FILLED WITH ALL PLEASANT AND PRECIOUS RICHES’. Over the years I have had friends who were really knowledgeable, but there knowledge was only available for a short season. Why? They didn’t have the wisdom and understanding to put systems in place that would be the structure that could contain the knowledge. Then you have those who are wise, they can get structures up. But then a year goes by and they are working on another structure! The old ‘house’ is either left for someone else to deal with, or they simply ‘walk away’ from the mortgage [spiritually speaking] and start all over. Then you have those with wisdom, knowledge and understanding. They get things going, they establish systems in place that can maintain and keep things functioning for the long term, and they make sure all these strong systems and ministries are ‘filled with precious riches’. It’s all too common for some very stable ministries to have the structures and systems in place for the long term, but then propagate a message that is ‘less than precious’. Lets ask God today for the grace to function in all three of these divine attributes. When it is all said and done, only God can provide the increase!

(966)1ST CORINTHIANS 9:1-14 Paul defends his apostleship and gives a strong defense for the New Testament doctrine of financially supporting Christian leaders. Now, I never want to be one of those types of teachers who skews or bypasses scriptures that seem to contradict previous teachings. It’s common for good men to do this, all leaders need to avoid doing it. Recently I added my comments to a debate that raged in the blogasphere. You had Frank Viola put out the book ‘Pagan Christianity’ [good book, I read and do recommend it] and another good theologian, Ben Witherington, gave a good critique [I also recommend Bens site, you can find both Frank and Ben’s sites on my blog roll]. Part of the debate hinged on the financial support of elders/ministers. I must admit I fell on Ben’s side in this argument, though I probably would agree with Frank around 90 % of the time on all the other stuff. Ben argued for the biblical mandate to support elders, frank seems to teach the support of apostles [itinerant workers] is okay, but does not leave room for the support of elders who live in the community. Now, you really need to read all I have written under the ‘what in the world is the church’ section of this blog to get my full view on all of this stuff, but this section of Corinthians makes this stuff pretty clear. Paul says ‘I have the right not to work and only live off of the offerings of the people’. So Paul defends this practice, but he also says ‘I choose not to use it’. He also uses two interesting examples from ‘the law’ [Old Testament] to defend the financial support of leaders. ‘The Ox who is treading out the corn shouldn’t be muzzled’ and ‘the priests who serve at the altar get to eat the meat from the sacrifices’. What is the most obvious example that he does not use? The tithe! I would say this is one of the best proofs for the tithe not being a normative practice of the early church. But Paul does use the other examples to say its right to financially support those who labor among you. But Paul has also given examples to elders [read my Acts 20 commentary] to show them that they are not in this for the money! Paul will actually defend the practice of working and not taking money from the believers. So we see a wide range of freedom in this area. I feel the biblical example is it is fine to financially support Christian leadership who are dedicating their lives to teaching and ministering the word. It is also fine to not use these ‘rights’ as a Christian leader. But nowhere are we taught a type of Levitical tithe system for the support of Christian leaders. Why? Paul’s main message was one of grace and coming out from the requirements of the law. To have used the tithe as an example to give financially would have been counterproductive to his whole message. Eventually believers would come to view ‘the church’ and ‘the priest/pastor’ as the single head of ‘the church building’ who would be supported like a Levite who served as a priest under the old covenant [bring all the tithes into the storehouse type concept]. This legalistic view of ‘the church’ is prevalent today in much of Christendom, both Catholics and Protestants seem to cling to this limited view of the church. The modern house church movement is giving the old view quite a run for its money! But let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. Paul said its okay to financially support Christian leadership among you, just don’t see it as a tithe that is supporting some type of Christian New Testament Levitical priest!

(963)1ST CORINTHIANS 7: 25-40 let’s be a little unconventional today. This passage deals with Paul’s counsel on celibacy and marriage. The historic church has had a bad rap on this issue. It is common today to say the church devalued marriage [and sex] and therefore we should exalt it. Sometimes this attempt at trying to correct the perceived imbalance puts a stumbling block in the way of those who are truly called to live the single life. Though marriage is an honorable thing, a true gift from God, yet living the celibate life can also be considered a very noble thing. It is rare in contemporary evangelicalism to leave this option open. Paul does say this option is not only available, but a noteworthy calling! He also makes it clear that only those who are called to this single lifestyle should attempt it. The church should not force celibacy on people. Now, do our catholic brothers force it upon the Priests? In a way, yes. But don’t forget that no one is ‘forced’ into the priesthood. Some feel like the scandals of catholic priests who abused children can be blamed on forced celibacy. The problem with this idea is many protestant ministers have also fallen sexually, and they were not celibate! The point being we need to be careful when we brand any Christian denomination with an accusation. Now, Paul also makes an interesting statement that we need to look at. He says ‘for the present distress I give these guidelines’. Is it possible that Paul’s seeming harshness on marriage was due to the fact of some type of distress that he saw coming? Possibly the Neronic persecutions? If so, Paul could be saying ‘because of the upcoming severe persecution I recommend everyone just laying low for the time, if married, seek not to be single and vice a versa’. This is possible, we need to keep this in mind when reading this section of scripture. But most of all I think the modern evangelical church needs to retool her message in this area. Marriage and sex are good, God ordained these things in their proper place. But living single and celibate is also considered a very noble calling, we do not normally reflect this balance in the present atmosphere. Also as an aside, a few years back it was common to teach ‘the world/public schools have taken sex and taught it to our kids. They have usurped the job of the family/church’ while there is some truth to this, the problem was some well known TV evangelists began to discuss sex in the sunday morning setting that was improper in a way [If you local Pastors who read this have done this, be assured I am not talking about you!]. I remember watching a national minister speak openly, with grandma’s and children in the service, and say ‘now speaking about sexual climax’ Yikes!! Just because the family/church dropped the ball on these issues, this doesn’t mean there are no barriers at all while dealing with these issues. Those who do this type of stuff seem to be saying ‘sex is not a dirty thing, therefore we need to bring it out into the open’ while this is true to a degree, there are also age appropriate subjects that should be taught in a private setting. If the church feels the need to delve into these subjects, we need to be careful that we are not crossing boundaries when doing it.

(949) 1st CORINTHIANS 4: 1-7 Paul says we are ‘stewards of Gods mysteries’. This hidden knowledge of the gospel that can only be revealed by divine revelation has been committed to us. These great treasures of God’s wisdom are not products of our own intellect, therefore there is no reason to glory in men! Paul says stuff like this in Romans 4 ‘if it is by grace that Abraham became righteous, then there are no grounds for boasting.’ Now, because of this reason we ‘ought not to think of each other in an exalted way’. All men [apostles, prophets, teachers] that you have received truth from are simply ‘carriers of a gift freely given’. When you check out a book from the library and it contains great truth, do you exalt the librarian for it? Of course not, she is just a ‘steward of the book’. So Paul says this about him and Apollos and all other human teachers. Paul also teaches that we all will be judged according to the motives and intents of our hearts. He could care less about the private judgments that others made of him, he realized that all men would give an account some day. Therefore why waste time trying to impress people, it is about the most useless thing a person can do. Why? Because all men are like grass, we are here today and gone tomorrow. How much effort would you make in trying to impress your lawn? It’s all wasted time. Paul is not degrading human dignity, he is battling with the mindset of men worship that the church was falling into. Jesus himself said he would not commit himself to man because he knew what was in man [John’s gospel]. What’s in man? Do you ‘know yourself’? Have you ever tried to impress people? Did you later realize what a useless waste of energy this endeavor was? Well all men are like you [and me!] so why waste your time doing something that has no lasting value. Paul said it concerned him very little, he knew God would some day see all of our motives. He focused on stuff that mattered for eternity.

(946)1 CORINTHIANS 3:1-10 Paul tells them that because of their immaturity he has ‘fed them milk, not meat’. He continues to correct them on their penchant for ‘men worship’. He says ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase’. He even says ‘we are nothing, its Gods Spirit that counts!’ I guess poor Paul wasn’t up on the contemporary self esteem movement in the church? Paul says ‘as a wise masterbuilder I have laid the foundation and others have built upon it’ also ‘ye are Gods building, Gods garden’. I have studied this concept of the ‘wise masterbuilder’ a lot over the years. The Apostle is known for his wisdom. Jesus said ‘I have sent you [Jerusalem] wise men and prophets’. The Apostles are the ‘wise men’. If I remember I will try and paste some entries on the reality of the apostolic ministry today. That is the teaching from scripture on the ongoing apostolic ministry. Don’t mistake it for the original ‘apostles of the Lamb’. They were special eyewitnesses of the resurrection. The ongoing gift which is spoken about in the New Testament plays a different role, yet we can glean things from Paul and others on this ministry gift. Paul was primarily a ‘foundation layer’ he spent no time building ‘buildings’ or human institutions, but he knew the reality of foundation laying. His proclamation of the gospel had the inherent ability to change a region for Christ and his kingdom. He had the wisdom to build into the communities a self sustaining mentality. A few months to a few years was the amount of time Paul spent in these communities. When he left them they were for all practical purposes self sustaining communities of Christ followers. How in the world did he do this on such a shoestring budget? The reality of Jesus and his resurrection was tremendously good news. Paul started them right. In today’s church world we seem to lay all sorts of other ‘foundations’. Faith, prosperity, healing, the ‘house church’; all good things in their proper place, but the reality of Christ seems to take second place. Also, Paul did not institute the pastoral office that we have come to depend on in the modern church. He did establish Elders, but he did not leave a ‘professional minister’ as the primary functioning ‘elder’ in their midst. Why is this important to see? Because when people are given ‘crutches’ they will use them! If momma eagle never kicks baby eagle out of the nest, then baby eagle will wind up on food stamps [Don’t feel bad if you are on them, I am just using this as an example]. In essence Paul built into the first century churches a self sustaining mindset. They were the church and they had the responsibility to represent Christ in their locals. They couldn’t pawn it off on ‘the pastor’. Paul would also do some writing. These letters would circulate throughout the communities and were regularly read by a literate believer in these churches. I know it’s common to think that the early believers ‘had bibles’ but this wasn’t the case. Paul’s letters were part of the early ‘canon’ but you wouldn’t have total agreement on the canon until around the 4th century. But these letters played a major role in ‘foundation laying’. The modern believer is primarily educated thru the sermon. Sermons are okay, but without literature, the job won’t get done. Say if your doctor, or mechanic or tax man told you ‘I have never been educated in school, but every Sunday I attended a lecture at the local lecture hall. I did this for 50 years. So let’s get on with the operation.’ Ouch! But we approach Christianity with this mindset. Paul wrote letters, short booklets if you will. These letters could be looked to as a stable source of doctrine for the early church. They would eventually be canonized and would be passed down to us 2 millennia later. We are reading from one right now.

(942)1st CORINTHIANS INTRODUCTION- Out of all of Paul’s letters, this one is ‘the most verified’ as being his. Of course we know this because Paul says so in the letter! But for all those intellectual higher critics, this helps. Corinth was a city of great influence and trade, many land and sea routes converged at Corinth and her port. The city was also known for her philosophers and ‘preachers of wisdom’ [Rhetoric]. They actually had a custom at Corinth in which you could ‘hire’ your own ‘preacher of wisdom’. These were the traveling teachers who made a living at speaking. This also might be why Paul specifically said ‘when I was with you I did not take money from you’. The custom of the traveling preachers was you could pay a one time honorarium for a single speech, or you could actually hire a regular speaker and have him ‘on salary’. Paul did not want the Corinthians to think that he was their hired preacher! How much influence this type of trade would have on the later development of the ‘hired clergy’ is unknown, but the similarities are striking. The famous 5th century bishop of Hippo, North Africa, Saint Augustine, made his living as one of these traveling teachers of philosophy before becoming a Christian. It’s believed that Paul wrote a 3rd letter to the church at Corinth, so what we know as 1st, 2nd Corinthians might actually be letters 2 and 3. I personally think Corinthians holds special value for the church today. The 21st century believer is being challenged on her Ecclesiology, the whole idea of what the church is. In Corinthians we see a specific picture of what the church is and on how she should meet. Paul will not address ‘the Pastor’ [there was none in the modern sense of the office] but he will speak directly to the brothers at Corinth and give them some heavy responsibilities to carry out [like committing a brother to satan for the destruction of his flesh! Ouch]. Paul went to Corinth on his 2nd missionary journey and spent 18 months with them [Acts 18] one of the longest stays at any church. Because of the pagan background of the city Paul will address specific issues related to believers and certain practices of idol worship. Eating meat offered to idols and stuff like that. Corinth also practiced a form of idolatry that included prostitution, so he will deal severely with the loose sexual morals of the people at Corinth. Well we have a lot to cover in the next few weeks, try and read Corinthians on your own as we plunge into this study, it will help a lot.

(941)2ND SAMUEL 24- David numbers the people. Joab and his men tell David not to do it. Why? Well to be honest we really don’t know for sure, but let me give you my spin on it. The nation of Israel were very religious and sticklers for specific things. You see this development years later with the religious Pharisees, a tendency to focus in on specific instructions and these ideas becoming obsessive in their minds. All Israel knew the original promise that God made to Abraham. God told him that his ‘seed would be like the stars for multitude and the sand by the shore’ [Genesis 15] included in this famous promise were the words ‘go, see if you can count them’? It was understood that God was saying to Abraham ‘go, if you want to test me, try and count them’ [the stars]. It’s possible that the counting of the people was considered a taboo for this reason. Now David does count them and his ‘seer/prophet’ Gad tells him ‘you messed up, you have 3 choices of judgment that will come on you’. David picks the 3 day judgment under Gods hand and 70,000 Israelites die. The census David took showed that Israel had 800 thousand people, Judah 500 thousand [1.3 million total] without counting the women and children! So you can multiply this number by at least 3 to figure the actual size of the nation. God stops the judgment short and David builds an altar at the place where he saw the destroying angel. David also pleads with the Lord ‘why kill the people, let the judgment be on me and my family instead’. David shows the heart of Moses here. Also David had a ‘seer/prophet’ that was part of his ‘ministry team’. In the prophetic churches it is common to have real prophetic people [not flakes!] who are stable in the word, and also give good advice to the leadership. There are real life prophets/seers who function in the church and can play a key role in the future of the church. We end Samuel with David overseeing a large kingdom. The people were the prophetic fulfillment of Gods purpose in the earth at that time. The letter of Peter says we are Gods holy nation today. The Father promised the Son that he would give him ‘the heathen for his inheritance and the ends of the earth for his possession’. Just like David, the anointed king/priest of Israel, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and sees the great multitude of people on the earth [and in heaven] that are the fulfillment of the promise of God to him. We are living proof of the faithfulness of God to his Son.

(940)2ND SAMUEL 23- David recounts his life and the mighty men who were with him thru the ups and downs. He says ‘God raised me up on high, the anointed of God. He spake his words thru me’ Jesus was raised up ‘on high’ he was/is Gods anointed one [Messiah] and he spoke only the words that the Father gave him. Now David has some valiant men to mention. Some fought the enemy against all odds. One was in a lentil field and the rest of the people fled. This brother stood his ground and won! This characteristic is important for leaders; there are times where you must stand, even if the rest of your people are afraid! If you start running, then forget it, there isn’t a ‘snowball’s chance in Hades’ that the job will get finished. Also David was in the cave Adullam, and he longed for the water at Bethlehem. His 3 mighty men heard him and they secretly snuck out and broke thru the Philistines front line and got the water for David! A valiant deed. Then they bring it to David and he pours it on the ground! He says ‘God forbid that I should drink the water that you risked your lives for’. I don’t know about you guys, but if I were one of the mighty men, my next valiant act would be ‘watch me make the king drink water off the ground’. One of the brothers killed a lion in the snow. I grew up in New Jersey, when it’s freezing out its hard to carry out tasks. You really don’t want to fight battles and ‘slay lions’ in difficult environments. The mighty men were able to function well, even in harsh conditions. The rest of the chapter is simply the naming of all the others. A few things; God raises up leaders and ‘kings’ at various times in history [Luther, Calvin, Graham, etc.] these men make their mark on history with the help of many other valiant men. In David’s case one of the men saved him from sure death in an earlier fight with the giant’s sons. The point is we are not in this thing to make a name for ourselves or to think ‘I could do a better job than David’ [Absalom] and go and start our own ‘kingdom’. God places key people in key places at certain points in time. It is vital for all the ‘actors’ [those who act/function!] to be courageous, take risks as God ordains, and fulfill the mission to the best of your ability. There are times where leaders WILL HAVE TO LEAD! That means you sought God, you heard what he said, and you followed thru on it. Many sincere men try all sorts of ‘new ideas’ in an attempt to get something off the ground. A year goes by and they have a new idea their working on. What happened? Ultimately you have to lead. You have to follow thru on the directives that God gave you. The problem isn’t with the plan [most of the times] but it’s with the faithfulness to follow thru with the mission. David’s men had the character to stick things out when others fled. Sure, those who flee will be back to check things out every now and then. Don’t despise them, but you know who can be trusted with the next mission. These are the noble warriors who acted valiantly in the face of great odds. These are the ‘go to men’ if you will.

(939)2ND SAMUEL 22- David exalts the Lord and mentions many themes that are found thru out scripture. He also says ‘the Lord has rewarded me according to the cleanness of my hands… he has recompensed me according to my righteousness’. Though David is renown for his sin with Bathsheba and the killing of her husband, yet we must see that David’s repentance was real. Ultimately David turned from his sin and God did bless him. We don’t want people to get the impression that repentance did not matter, in David’s case it made all the difference in the world. David also says ‘the Lord is merciful to those who are merciful…and hard with those who are hard’ Jesus says this in Matthew 5. David says ‘God took me and placed me in a large place’. One of the most frustrating things is to be operating from the wrong paradigm. Too often we leave the impression with young Pastors that their ‘job’ is to preach to 30 people a week for 30 years, marry them, bury them, perform the job of the ‘hired clergyman’ and this is what it means to be faithful. While I recognize that many well meaning men are functioning out of this mind set, yet God puts in people [all of his people, not just ‘full time ministers’!] a ‘large place’ to function out of. Now, when I say ‘large place’ don’t think building, think ‘the area, groups of people that I will influence thru out my life’. Scripture says God took David from ‘following the sheep’ [small pastoral mindset] to being king over the nation. God simply gave David great influence and stature for the sake of his people. Jesus said ‘you have been faithful over a little, I will now give you authority over 10 cities’. Are you frustrated because you are supposed to be ‘over 10 cities’ and are still dealing with ‘the little’? Be faithful to the day of small things right now, promotion comes from God alone. ‘You have made me the head of the heathen…strangers shall serve me. As soon as they hear me they will submit’. These are Messianic themes found elsewhere in scripture ‘ask of me and I will give you the heathen for your inheritance, the ends of the earth for your possession’. Jesus became the ‘head of the heathen’ he is Lord over the gentile nations, John calls this ‘the other flock’ in his gospel. God gave both David and Jesus authority for the benefit of people. What kind of people? The lost, down and out. Those who society rejected. God gives us authority for the ‘sake of the heathen’. Don’t see your ‘ministry’ as a gift to the ‘upper class’ only, spend some time ‘with the heathen’.

(937)2ND SAMUEL 20- Now David comes up against another short rebellion. Sheba, a Benjamite, blows the trumpet and says ‘what part have we in David, every man for himself’. Sheba draws Israel away from her king and Judah remains loyal. David quickly tells his new commander, Amasa, ‘go and gather Judah together and meet me in 3 days’. He takes longer than 3 days and David says ‘surely this Sheba is going to be trouble’ and he sends Joab out too. What’s going on here? First, David removed Joab from the commander position and replaced him with Amasa. For whatever reason Amasa is taking longer to gather Judah, David is reading into it thru the paranoia of Sheba’s rebellion. Was Amasa turning against him too? David then turns to his former commander Joab and seems to be using him as the back up ‘go to man’. Leaders, if you changed the staff for a reason, don’t keep going to the former guy for advice. It only creates tension with the new team. If you think the new guy isn’t working well, then give him a little time and if you have to then go and make the change. But don’t simply give him a title and then undercut his job. Now Joab goes out after Sheba and finds Amasa and kills him. He then chases down Sheba into a city of Israel. Joab comes against the city and a wise woman says ‘why are you trying to destroy us, we are a special town in Israel’? Joab says ‘we just want Sheba’. Sure enough the woman says ‘wait a little bit’ and next thing you know Sheba’s head comes over the wall. You don’t want to mess with these Israeli women! So Joab gets his job back, thru violent means. David puts down this short rebellion. And he has to regroup big time. Leadership means being able to function in the midst of turmoil and inner strife and infighting. That’s part of the cost. There is a verse that says ‘rule thou in the midst of your enemies’. God doesn’t tell us ‘I will remove all the problems so you can rule’. He tells us ‘lead right thru all the stuff’!

(935)2ND SAMUEL 18- David and his men regroup and mount a counter attack against Absalom. They divide into 3 groups and go for it. David tells his men ‘take it easy on Absalom’. Why? Understand that David is seeing the prophetic judgment upon his family that was a result of his own sin. I wonder how many times David saw the fulfillment of this former word [the sword will never depart from your house] thru the seeming insignificant acts of Absalom along the way. David felt guilt over this whole rebellion mounted by his son. Now the battle rages and David and his men kill around 20 thousand troops of Absalom. Word gets back to Joab that Absalom got his hair caught in some tree and is hanging in the tree. Joab says ‘why didn’t you kill him!’ the messenger says ‘God forbid that I should kill the king’s son! I heard the strict orders from the king for no one to take his life’. My King James Version says Joab responded with ‘I may not tarry thus with thee’ in today’s terms ‘I can’t waste time listening to your reasoning’. Joab goes and kills the king’s son. When I read thru this chapter earlier this morning I saw 2 possible things here. First, Joab and his history with David are one of Joab being a ‘bloody man’. He killed Abner against the king’s wishes, and now Absalom. Why in the world did David not remove Joab from this position earlier? One reason, Joab knew how to war. The boy was capable; he knew how to get the job done. In ministry [or business] loyalty is important; people need to be able to carry out the decisions of leadership. But loyalty in and of itself doesn’t cut it, you need skills and abilities as well. You say ‘that’s not fair’ well if you don’t have the skills go get them for heavens sake! Proverbs says knowledge is in the street corners calling out to the simple and saying ‘come, receive of my learning’. The resources are there, laziness prevents people from accessing them effectively. Now Joab also acted responsibly to some degree. He realized that Absalom would be a permanent threat to David’s rule, he killed him and saved many. Right after his death Joab blows the trumpet and the battle is called off. 2 Messengers run to bring the word to David. Ephesians says ‘blessed are the feet of those who bring the gospel’ Gospel simply means ‘good news’. In the New Testament this good news was the reality of Jesus death, burial and resurrection [1st Corinthians 15] but in the Old Testament it was simply the news from ‘the runner’. You could tell from the way the runner was running whether the news was good or bad. How? Say if your wife took a lotto ticket that said ‘you one a million dollars’ and said ‘I am going to ask the store clerk if it’s real’. As you are waiting in the parking lot you see her coming out of the store. Do you think you would be able to tell if the news was good or bad by watching the way she approaches the car? So this was what the king looked for as the messengers came running. If they bore good news their feet had this special pep to them. News gets back to David and he is broken over the death of his son ‘O Absalom, my son Absalom. Would God I had died in your place’ I always stop and meditate this verse every time I read it thru my yearly reading thru the bible. This contains the heart of the Father in redemption. A few more things; in this chapter it said that Absalom raised up a monument/pillar after ‘his own name’. Because he didn’t have any sons to carry on his legacy, he left ‘a thing’ that would honor his name after he died. Absalom didn’t simply have a rebellion issue against his father, he really wanted to build for himself a legacy. His motivations were self serving. Jesus warns the leaders of his movement not to approach ‘church and ministry’ with the same ‘gentile’ [worldly] concepts of leadership. The world often succeeds thru the motivation of greed and lust and power. It’s very easy to fall into the Absalom mindset and take it out on Gods people when the ‘pillar’ [the thing of ministry] doesn’t ‘go up right’. Many well meaning sincere men have been side tracked into seeking fame and acceptance by seeing ministry thru the lens of ‘I want to leave some institution that will bear witness to my name after I am gone’. Ministry, according to Jesus, does not operate along these lines. In Absalom’s obsession to become famous in the eyes of men, he went down a path that did leave a memorial to his name for generations to come. We just read it.

(934)2ND SAMUEL 17- Absalom is strengthening his position as the new king. Ahithophel, his chief counselor, advises to strike while the irons hot. He tells Absalom ‘let me gather a 12 thousand man army and quickly pursue David. I will come upon him and his men while they are tired and fearful, then I will kill David only and bring the people back to you’. Now, this advice was the best, but Absalom asks for the advice of Hushai also. He was the secret spy that was really on David’s side. He advises Absalom to wait and gather all the people and mount a broad attack. God put it in the heart of Absalom to believe the bad advice [bad for Absalom, good for David!]. So Ahithophel sees that his counsel is rejected, he goes and hangs himself! Once again we see the ‘sword of David’s enemies enter into their own heart’. Remember what we said earlier about this? So Hushai sends word to David about the plan and David responds accordingly. Leaders, understand the strategy of our mortal enemy [satan]. He wants to target you when you and your people are weary and tired. He wants to take you down more than any other thing. The bible teaches ‘smite the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered’. Now this is a Messianic prophecy with a lot of meaning, but one of the points is the lead ‘point man’ is usually the main target of the opposing side. How can we mitigate this factor? Practice plural leadership as much as possible. The new testament churches were not ‘run by a Pastor’ in the way we do it today. So adjust your leadership paradigm and bring it more into alignment with scripture. Also, spread ‘the wealth around’ [a recent key issue with the newly elected president, Barack Obama]. If you can get the wisdom and truth that God has communicated to you into the hands of many others, then you have accomplished a lot. Paul told Timothy ‘the things that you have learned and been assured of, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also’. This is true apostolic ministry. David will survive this rebellion against his kingdom, but if Absalom listened to the best counsel David would have been finished for sure.

(932)2ND SAMUEL 16- As David flees Jerusalem, Ziba, the servant that was under Mephibosheth joins with him. David asks ‘what are you doing here? You should be home with your master’. Ziba says ‘as soon as Mephibosheth heard about the take over, he said “I will stay in Israel and become the new king, God will restore to me Saul’s throne”’. Now David believes it and says ‘I now put you in charge of all the household of your former master, it belongs to you’. Later on Mephibosheth will deny all of this. Its possible Ziba made this up for his own benefit. Leaders, be careful of advice from people with a personal agenda. They often make themselves look better than others. Now as David flees another enemy comes out and curses and throws stones at him along the way. This guy says ‘look at you now, you rebelled against the old king [Saul] and now you are receiving the just reward’. Now David responds with a Christ like attitude and says ‘let the guy curse me, I will not retaliate. Maybe God will look on this persecution and reward me’. One of David’s men wanted to ‘take his head off’. Gee, David has all types in his leadership circle! Did this guy who was cursing David misread the whole situation? Yes, but don’t forget we are reading this story from the real perspective, some people living at the time of David and Saul saw this new king [David] as a threat to the old ways. It’s only a few days after the 2008 presidential election. Barack Obama won. Though there were many reasons for and against him, now that he won we ALL need to pray for him. But some of the supporters of McCain sincerely saw this ‘new kind of person’ as a rebellious threat to the ‘old order’. Sincere people who saw things from a different angle. So David’s accuser sees the story from a wrong lens. David was being judged by God, but not because he toppled the old order of King Saul. Back at Jerusalem Absalom listens to the advice of Ahithophel and sleeps with his fathers concubines. The advice was that when all Israel heard about it, they would realize that this rebellion was a real rebellion and the people would unite under his illegal rule. Scripture says Ahithophels counsel was like ‘hearing from God’ in those days. Leaders, be open to the counsel that is coming forth from particular streams at certain times. It is not only important for believers to ‘learn the bible’, but also to be able to discern the signs of the times. Specific things God is saying and doing in our day. If you were living in the 16th century the issue of the reformation was vital for every one who was a believer. Whether you were Catholic or Protestant, you needed to be up on the issues. Erasmus, the great Catholic scholar and humanist [not ‘secular humanist’] wrote insightful criticisms against his own church, yet remained within her fold. So matter what Christian tradition you align yourself with, you need to be aware of the seasons and purposes of God for your generation. In Absalom’s day, Ahithophel was the go to man.

(930)2nd SAMUEL 14- David is broken over the estrangement of his son. Joab realizes that the kingdom can’t function to its full potential under this strain. But he knows he can’t confront David himself. Why? Maybe it’s because of the nature of leaders. It’s a very rare thing for one leader to confront another leader over an issue. The natural response is to look for ways to justify ourselves. So instead Joab finds a ‘wise woman’ and gets her to put on this act for the king. She tells him this sob story about one of her sons killing the other one. She is a widow and is left with only one son, but all the other relatives want justice! They can’t forgive the only heir. Well David falls for this scenario again! He did this with Nathan and Bathsheba. So he tells the woman ‘God forbid that someone takes vengeance on the only son. Over my dead body…. on and on’. Now the woman says ‘can I say one last thing’? Knowing David’s history of getting trumped at the end of these things, I would have said ‘no maam, you’ve said enough already’. But David says ‘go ahead’. She tells him ‘you’re the man!’ [Ouch! I wonder if this woman was the wife of Nathan?:-)] So David realizes he’s been duped again. The woman says ‘O, you are so wise and smart and….’ Gee, for someone who is so swift, he sure falls for these stories a lot. David sends Joab to get Absalom and Absalom returns to Jerusalem but the king avoids him for 2 years. Finally he sees his son. All is not well, Absalom resents the fact that his father called him home but never really made things right. Joab is glad that David gave it a shot. And the nameless wise woman gives us a quote worth remembering ‘For we must needs die, and are as water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means [the Cross], that his banished [humanity] be not expelled from him [reconciliation]’. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

(929)2ND SAMUEL 13- In this chapter David begins reaping the judgment on his household. Amnon, David’s son, falls for Tamar. Tamar is the sister of Absalom, another son of David. David had kids from various wives, so you had sons and sisters who were not from the same mother. Amnon devises a scheme and sleeps with Tamar. Then he rejects her. Absalom is incensed over this. David hears about it but doesn’t deal with the problem. Two years go by and Absalom gets even. He tricks Amnon and his other brothers to come to his territory. Then he kills Amnon. Word gets back to David ‘all your sons have been slain by Amnon’. David thinks ‘surely, this is my punishment’. He mourns and is shaken to the core. Now, the report was false. It really wasn’t as bad as David thought. Leaders, don’t always believe the initial report. The first intuition might be wrong. It’s difficult for leaders to recognize that something needs to happen, and then to wait on the Lord for clear directives. Leaders often want action, so they will respond and act based on the initial report. It’s better to sleep on it for a few days. David finds out that all the sons are not dead, just Amnon. Absalom flees to another king and is gone for a few years. David is distraught over the loss of one son and the reality that the other son is estranged from him. Could David have prevented this whole scenario? Maybe not, we do know the Lord said a sword would be in his family. A division and fighting would arise from within. But David also failed in that when he heard of the situation he never dealt with it. Sort of like Samuel and Eli. Eli let his boys run wild and they ruined Gods house. Though the Lord ‘promised’ David would reap what he sowed earlier on, yet the reaping was not as severe as he initially thought. Absalom could have very well killed all the brothers, but the Lord only allowed a limited judgment. Sometimes we mess up and make wrong choices, remember; God is for us. He is on our side. All chastening and discipline are for our ultimate benefit. What good what it have done for David to have been totally wiped out? God was disciplining David and his family, but God was still on David’s side.

(928)2ND SAMUEL 12- Nathan confronts David over his sin. He gives a parable about 2 men in a town, one owned lots of flocks and sheep, the other owned one precious lamb. The man with all the sheep had a visitor come to him in need. So instead of sacrificing his own sheep, he went and took the precious ‘only lamb’ from his neighbor. David is incensed over this injustice, he declares ‘This man will pay back what he did and also die for this sin’! Nathan says ‘you are the man’. David realizes he did this very thing with Bathsheba and Uriah. Notice how we have a tendency to be enraged over the sin and faults of others, but we make room for ourselves when we are guilty of the same things. Jesus confronted the religious hypocrisy of his day when he showed the Pharisees that they were guilty of lust and anger and jealousy, the same root causes of murder and adultery. They wanted strict judgment on others who were guilty of the same sins that they were guilty of. Also the fact that the man with one little lamb lost his favorite, this speaks of the great sacrifice of giving up the ‘only begotten Son of God’. Jesus sacrifice was great because the father gave his only Son. Now David receives the reproof from the prophet and Gods judgment is pronounced ‘the sword will never leave your house. From within your own family treachery shall arise. Your wives will be taken from you and publicly disgraced. The son from Bathsheba will die’. Very strict judgment indeed, yet the Lord says ‘nevertheless, I will spare your life’. This was something David did not leave room for in his earlier judgment on the sheep stealer! David mourns and fasts for the child’s life, but the child dies. David has another son with Bathsheba and his name is Solomon. One of the greatest/wisest kings Israel will ever have. A few things; in David’s earlier scenario he said the ‘sheep stealer’ should pay restitution. He wanted the man to right the wrong. In David’s case he killed the very man whom restitution should have been made to! In essence his sin was so severe that it actually cut off part of his future reconciliation. Unforgiveness towards others falls into this same category. God requires us to forgive those who have wronged us. We often do every thing else under the sun to get back on track, but we ‘eliminate’ the very person that stands in the way of total reconciliation! That person is often times the offender. Also at the end of the chapter David is told by Joab that he is on the verge of taking a city and David should come and finish the job so Joab won’t get the credit. David musters his forces and finishes the job. One of the hardest things to do in ministry/service is to regroup and move forward again. David had some very serious issues he had to deal with. The situation with Bathsheba was not going away. He couldn’t completely resolve this issue. But he still needed to function and carry out his responsibilities. Faithfulness means sticking it out even thru your own personal failures. Completing the task to the best of your ability. At one point they asked David ‘why were you grieving and fasting while the boy was still alive, and after he died you ate and functioned again’? David said ‘who knows, when the boy was alive there was a possibility that God would change his mind and let the boy live. After he died there was nothing else I could do’. Most of us would have been angry at God. David didn’t have all the answers, he knew Nathan was an accurate prophet. The things Nathan said were from the Lord. But David also was ‘from the Lord’. He too had a relationship with God. He depended on this relationship to guide him thru stuff. Maybe God would do something? David did not have all the answers. And when God didn’t do what he wanted, he didn’t take it personal. He moved forward the best he could. God showed tremendous mercy in allowing this sinful situation to produce a future king. Solomon was born from this turmoil and he was a great man of God. Look to the lord to bring forth wisdom from the failures in your life. The ‘first son’ might not have survived, but the second son just might be a prodigy.

(927)2ND SAMUEL 11- David sends Joab and his men out to war. He stays home and takes a walk on his roof and spots Bathsheba. He sends a servant to contact her and he sleeps with her. He finds out she’s pregnant and the gears in his mind start moving. He calls her noble husband, Uriah, from the front lines of battle and pretends he just called him to inquire about the battle. He sends him home, hoping he will sleep with his wife, and then David will be off the hook. Sure enough Uriah is so noble that he refuses to sleep in his house when his men are in the battle. So David gives it a second shot and gets the brother drunk. He sends him home again and Uriah refuses to sleep with Bathsheba. So David calls for Joab, the lead commander of his army, and says ‘put Uriah in the front lines and draw back and let him die’. Something interesting happens. Joab carries out the plan but also allows some of David’s other men to die. Then he sends a messenger to tell David ‘we were at the front lines, close to a wall, and some of our guys were killed’. Joab tells the messenger ‘if David gets mad and says “what were you thinking by getting close to the wall? This is a basic mistake that should have never been made!”’ Joab says if David asks this, then say ‘Uriah is dead too’. It’s possible that Joab stuck it to David here for making him partake in his personal problems. Military men do not like carrying out personal political vendettas. Either way the messenger goes and tells David and David feels he covered up his sin. Of course we will soon find out the cover up didn’t work. Bathsheba does move in with David and they make plans for the coming baby. A few things; David was a great man, he followed God as a man ‘after Gods own heart’. David was also human. Hebrews says ‘every high priest taken from among men must make sacrifice for his own sin as well as the peoples’. I don’t want to excuse sin, but I want you to see that all of us have ‘feet of clay’. Modern ministry has a system where we present the best image of leadership to people. We feel this is part of the role of leaders. The scriptures show you ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly’. We just saw the ugly.

(925)2ND SAMUEL 9- David inquires if there are any sons of Jonathan still alive, he wants to keep his oath to Jonathan that he would treat his offspring well when he became the king. Sure enough they find out that Mephibosheth, the crippled son, is still alive. David tells Ziba, former servant in Saul’s house, to become the servant of Mephibosheth. Later on we see Ziba speak badly about Mephibosheth; he will tell David that he was unfaithful to his rule. It’s possible that Ziba resented this new position of servitude that David put on him and his house. We read stories in the New Testament how the mercy Jesus shows to certain groups of people [lame and crippled and poor] will create a dissension among the others. David’s treatment of Mephibosheth is much like Jesus treatment of the down and out. David honors this lame boy, he allows him to sit at the kings table [Jesus in the parables calls people to ‘his dinner banquet’] and he outwardly, publicly associated himself with the sick and disabled. Truly David is fulfilling his role as a type of Christ. The jealousy of Ziba [down the road] reminds me of the story of Haman in the book of Esther. Haman was this wicked brother who hated the Jews. He particularly loathed this brother named Mordecai. This Jew refused to bow down as Haman rode by. Haman was close to the king [non Jew]. So Haman devises this plot to kill all the Jews and ultimately Esther saves the day [thus the name of the book]. But at one point the king asks Haman’s advice ‘what should I do for the man I respect and like so much’? Haman thinks the king is talking about him, so of course he says ‘Well, have him exalted to the highest position next to the king, let all the kings servants bow down and respect him…and on and on’. Haman thinks ‘Now I’ll get that rat Mordecai to bow!’ And the king says ‘sounds like a great idea, now go and make all this happen for Mordecai’. This was not Haman’s day. Jesus challenges our hidden agendas. How do we respond when other ministries excel? Do we secretly feel good when we hear about the failure of a ministry that never honored us? Do we root for the church we attend and kind of have an attitude of ‘we are doing better than the other guys’. All these attitudes violate the family mindset of the Body of Christ. When David, or Jesus or any other king show special favor to another subject, our ‘eye shouldn’t be evil because the king did what was his right to do with what was his’. David honored his former vow to his best friend Jonathan, he kept his word.

(924)2ND SAMUEL 8- As David extends his rule he allows the defeated territories to maintain a level of self governing. The military principle is defeat [demoralize] your enemy, but don’t totally wipe him out. Either put a puppet king over them [Israel’s enemies will do this to her down the road!] or allow the ruling leaders to stay under tribute. Why do this? Some feel our country violated this principle in the present war with Iraq [2008]. The pundits say ‘why did Bush dismantle the Iraqi army, they should have simply allowed them to remain under U.S. rule’. First, the talking heads would have never been satisfied. I could hear Chris Matthews now ‘why in the world did Bush leave the army in place! Doesn’t he know that they were infiltrated with terrorists?’ But David allowed the defeated areas to exist under his rule. He wiped out some of their men, but not all. I think the modern concept of ‘extending Christ’s rule’ thru church planting can learn some lessons here. In the first century ‘church planting’ was the simple process of preaching the gospel to regions of people. Those who believed were baptized and continued in the apostle’s doctrine and the ways of Jesus. The first century ‘church planters’ were not trying to provide buildings and weekly ‘preaching services’ and long term dependence upon the Pastoral ministry. For the most part these new converts were to ‘self maintain’ under the direction of more grounded brothers in the Lord [elders]. This allowed for the ‘conquered territories’ [conquered by the sword of the Spirit, not the sword of man!] to function relatively easily on their own with out a lot of heavy financing and building programs and all sorts of stuff that the modern concept of ‘church planting’ has brought along for the ride. David simply put troops in these conquered cities [Jesus sent them out 2 by 2] and these areas of people understood that they were servants to the king! They paid tribute [I would associate this with the New Testament doctrine of giving as a community, not the Levitical tithe] and the Davidic kingdom [gospel] could spread rapidly in a short period of time. David had men working along side him; priests and scribes and stuff. He did ‘justly’ and ruled with integrity. He exemplified the character of a true leader, but did not back down from his God given authority. God established him as a leader in Israel. The boy did his job!

(918)2ND SAMUEL 3- Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, king of Israel. He accuses Abner of sleeping with one of his fathers concubines [second wife type thing]. And Abner, the military leader who for the most part propped up Ishbosheth as a puppet king for his own sake, gets irate and says ‘who do you think I am that you accuse me like this? I am not some dog that you can mistreat! I will now turn over the kingdom to David. If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t even be a king!’ and Ishbosheth remains stunned and silent. What happened here? When men join a ‘team’ [church-organization] out of jealousy and competition, they see themselves as helping the leader as a by-product of there own selfish motivations. We often see churches/organizations compete with one another like professional ball teams ‘how many games did your team with this season/ what was your average attendance this year?’ and stuff like that. When ministry leaders/staff see their ‘church’ from this type of perspective, then as soon as the leader offends you, you respond like Abner ‘how dare this guy speak to me like that! Doesn’t he know if it weren’t for my support he wouldn’t even be here!’ Now, I am not defending either side in this scenario, I feel for the most part that both of these responses/attitudes are not found in the churches of the New Testament. Because the churches in scripture were communities of believers who lived in your city. They weren’t established along these corporate ideas at all. Now Abner goes to David and tells him ‘I am now with you [people can be fickle!] and will do my best to bring all Israel to you’ David makes the deal and Joab, David’s military man says ‘what did you do? Abner was here simply to spy on you, his motives are wrong!’ Joabs brother was killed earlier by Abner himself, Joab was not willing to make peace with Abner. After all there is only room for one military commander, and Joab is not about to accept a demotion for this late comer to the party. Joab calls Abner back and kills him. David hears what happened and washes his hands from the whole matter. In this chapter we see how the motivations and selfish intentions of people cause strife. I feel the whole scenario of ‘whose side are you on, which ‘local team’ [church] is your team?’ leads us into these types of positioning and intrigue. In the New Testament you did not see Paul interacting this way between the local churches [communities of believers] he was establishing. For the most part he was teaching them to be faithful to the gospel and would only exercise apostolic authority when things got out of hand. He would appeal to his proof of who he was by saying ‘I am the one who brought you the gospel in the first place, don’t listen to these false teachers who are drawing you away from the truth’. But you did not see a dynamic of ‘are you supporting my apostolic ministry or not? If you are not faithful to my ministry then I no longer have time for you’. These limited ideas cause us to compete with one another. Abner and Joab were men who wanted self advancement and recognition, they aligned themselves with various leaders for their own purposes, this is not the family mindset that Jesus will instill in his future leaders.

(915)SAMUEL 31- The Philistines pursue Israel and Saul and his sons are killed. Saul tells his armor bearer to kill him, the armor bearer is afraid to do it. So Saul falls on his own sword. The enemy takes Saul’s body and cuts off his head and they pin him and his sons up on a wall for public humiliation. The inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead hear of it and they get his body and give him a proper burial. David will soon become the king. It’s kind of a sad way to end 1st Samuel. Saul and his sons really die, Jonathan was killed. A true warrior with a pure heart. I think we need to recognize the danger involved with the kingdom. There are times where men and woman of God have come under attack and have fallen. A few years back there were a few public scandals of believers who fell. Some just go away, others try and get back into the ministry. Often times there is no real facing up to the issues and an honest appraisal of what happened. I think many of these believers would be helpful if they wrote a book or shared openly about their struggles and difficulties. But the church has a tendency to cover up the real dangers involved in the ministry. Also Saul commits suicide. There are few suicides in scripture. We know Judas killed himself as well. If I remember right there is a Psalm that speaks of the sword of your enemies entering into them! A basic reality of a curse that comes upon those who fight believers [Gods anointed ones] that they will die at their own hands [or you don’t have to ‘get them’ yourself!]. Jesus taught us to not resist and take out vengeance on our enemies. It seems as if in both of these cases [Saul and Judas] that they fell victim to this judgment from God. How should we view this? Jesus and David were Gods ‘anointed ones’. Can we say that those who challenge present authority structures are rebelling against ‘Gods anointed’? This challenge has been made many times over the years. The two great divisions of western Christianity, the ‘Great Schism’ of 1054 [where the Eastern church- Orthodox, split from the Western branch] and the 16th century Reformation. Both had to do with believers resisting what they felt to be unscriptural authority as seen in the doctrine of apostolic succession thru Peter to the Popes. In both of these cases the ‘rebels’ were considered to be resisting ‘Gods authority’. I see it a little different. In Saul’s case he actually was the old order authority who was resisting change to the ‘old way’. God was bringing in a new anointed one thru David, and Saul was fighting the change. And of course Judas was coming against Jesus, who would institute the most radical change to mans approach to God that would ever come on the scene [in essence Jesus was eliminating the old order priesthood and making all believers priests!] I feel that these truths can apply to the current of change in our day. As the people of God transition from an ‘old order’ idea of leadership, to a more communal concept, both sides need to have respect and appreciation for each other. The new order [organic ecclesia] needs to appreciate all that the old order accomplished, and the old authority structures need to see the writing on the wall.

(911)SAMUEL 27- David realizes that as long as he stays in the area, Saul will never change. He goes to Achish, king of Gath, and asks if he could stay there. David is given Ziklag and it becomes a permanent possession for Israel. David recognized that no matter how many efforts he made to show Saul that the rumors about him were false, that this was going down a dead end trail. Sometimes we need to simply ‘walk away’ from some stuff. It’s not like David was hating Saul, he just recognized that all his efforts to try and get Saul to approve of him were vain. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were seeking glory and acceptance from men. He said those who seek to please men in this way could not please God. He challenged their core reason for being ‘in the ministry’. They wanted to be accepted and successful in the eyes of others. They did not realize that their ideas of ministry strayed so far from the intent of God. Jesus showed them that if their motivation was how others viewed them [they loved to make long public prayers and show themselves to be spiritual] then God was no longer in it. David quit trying to spend so much time and effort in getting Saul to like him, he fled to Gath. Now the king of Gath is overjoyed to get such a talented member ‘on staff’. He believes David is now with him as opposed to Israel. We will see later that this trust he places in David blinds him from David’s real motives. The king’s men will advise against using David in a key battle against Israel. Leaders need to be careful in seeing the talents and gifts of people as simple additions to their ministries. Because we live in a day where church and ministry are so intertwined with corporate ideas, this leads to a dynamic of pastors looking for ‘the best men I can find’. In actuality Jesus was seeking the worst! Now, I realize Paul wanted good men to work with him and he rejected those who would quit half way thru the task. But don’t view ministry thru the lens of ‘great, David is now with me instead of Saul’! In Gods kingdom we are all equal as brothers and sisters, we should not allow the talents and gifts of others to cause us to favor them more than others. David stayed in the philistine’s area for around a year and a half, sort of like Paul’s time at Corinth. The whole time he is secretly fighting the enemies of Israel while Achish thinks he is fighting against Israel. Notice also that Ziklag became a permanent inheritance in Israel. A city that David didn’t even fight for! Sometimes when we simply recognize the transitions that God is leading us into, we yield and at the same time take ground. I used to make decisions quickly, recently I had to make some ministry decisions. Changes that I would have preferred not to have made. In the old days I would have jumped thru these changes without really waiting on the Lord. Or I would have persisted to not change and struggle along the sure path. But now I try and wait and decide as a few days go by. If things look like the new direction is the way to go, then I go with it. David left the territories of his homeland for a while, he hooked up with Achish and during this seeming distraction he possessed some territory peacefully. Sometimes we need to relax during the distraction, and allow the lord to give us some easy land.

(910)SAMUEL 26- Saul pursues David in the wilderness of Ziph. David hears that Saul is still on his trail, and he tells his men ‘who wants to go down with me and see if we can spy on Saul’? Abishai goes. They sneak into Saul’s camp and find the men sleeping, they steel Saul’s spear and water supply. They go to the other side and yell ‘what’s up, why couldn’t a man like Abner protect Saul’? David reveals the stolen stuff and Saul realizes that once again David had the chance to kill him but let him go instead. Saul goes thru the whole ‘you are a better man than me’ thing. But the problem is no matter how many times God vindicates David, Saul still goes after him! I think David would have preferred for Saul to really learn the lesson instead of just making these worthless treaties. It’s like signing these treaties with North Korea on nuclear stuff. Then a few years go by and they say ‘well, you caught us, we were cheating’ and then we go and sign another one! David wasn’t putting much stock into Saul’s words. David also says ‘if God has told you to get me, than explain the reason, I will try and make any fault right. But if it’s these gossiping people that have turned you into my enemy, then let them be cursed’! Notice, it wasn’t just the fact that Saul was pursuing David, it was the reality that David’s secret enemies were the deceivers behind the whole thing. It’s like David has more respect for Saul, because he at least is open and willing to confront him publicly. But the troublemakers spend all their time poisoning the minds of others against you. They are too scared to confront you themselves. Bunch of wimps! Once again Saul recognizes Gods calling on David ‘you will do great things and prevail’. David is Gods new order of leadership, Saul is stuck in the old school. It was obvious that Saul was never going to transition and live peaceably with David as the king. Saul had his ways and he basically was going to live out his days functioning in the comfortable patterns of kingship that he was familiar with. He also could see the writing on the wall. He saw that David had the lord helping him, he was still humble enough to have glimpses of clarity. Being able to see the future and what God was going to do. Saul just couldn’t get to a point where he would peacefully accept the new king.

(909)SAMUEL 25- THERE ARE MANY SERVANTS THESE DAYS WHO BREAK AWAY FROM THEIR MASTER! We see the death of Samuel and the story of David and Nabal. When David was on the run with his small army, he had provided shelter for Nabal’s men while in the fields. So David figures it’s time to cash in on the goodwill that he showed to Nabal’s men. He sends some servants to Nabal’s house to remind him of the favor that was done, and to humbly ask ‘can you in return show us some favor and provide us with some supply’? Nabal is considered a fool and replies ‘Who is this David, another one of the many rebels of this day?’ and Nabal refuses to help. Now David hears of the response and decides ‘I have had it! Let’s strap it on’. On the way to wipe out Nabal the servants of Nabal tell his wife Abigail what happened. They speak well of David and Abigail quickly puts together a supply and sends it to David. She averts the disaster that was imminent. The next day Nabal hears what happened and falls into a stroke type condition and dies within a few days. David takes Abigail to be his wife. I sort of see in Nabal a type of response to the new authority structures that God is raising up in the kingdom. David of course is a type of Jesus, but we also see all leadership types in David. In the present system of ‘local church’ there is a legitimate challenge to the ‘old type pastoral model’. Now, some in the past have challenged leadership out of rebellion. But there are very scriptural questions to the development of the one man leadership model that prevails in today’s idea of church. It is easy to mistake these challenges as ‘another rebellious movement like the others of days gone by’. During the reformation of the 16th century you also had this response. But there actually are real times of change and upheaval that come from God. Nabal stuck David in a category of ‘another one of those rebellious types’ but his judgment was way off. Nabal did not act righteously in this challenge to Godly authority. He used ‘rebellion’ as a false defense of his unwillingness to give David and his men their due. There are good men who are seeing the legitimacy of the present challenges to the old authority structures. But then there are others who are not even willing to give a fair hearing to the ‘David’s’ and just assume all new ideas are acts of rebellion. This can breed dangerous responses from both sides. Out of frustration David, who was right in this case, almost committed an act of retaliation that would have forever scarred his ministry. Nabal realized what a foolish judgment he had made and lost his life over it. It would have been better if the old guard recognized the legitimacy of the new guard and tried to hammer out an amicable solution.

(908)SAMUEL 24- Saul heard that David is at Engedi, he pursues him. When they get in the area Saul goes into a random cave to ‘use the restroom’. Lo and behold, this just happens to be the one cave that David and his men are hiding in! David’s men tell him ‘see, the lord has delivered your enemy into your hand’. David secretly cuts a piece of Saul’s robe off. As Saul leaves the cave David reveals himself and bows to the ground and tells Saul ‘see my father, today I had the chance to kill you, but instead I spared your life. Why are you listening to all the rumors that people are saying about me?’ Notice, Saul was being fed gossip about David, and this was affecting David! We need to overcome the reality that part of the cost of ministry is people are going to lie about you and other people will believe it. Yes, Jesus did say this was part of the cost ‘if they spoke falsely about me, then they will about you. But when this happens rejoice! For this is also what happened to the prophets’. Hey, if you want to run with the big boys, then this is part of the price. Now David’s men also were affecting his thinking ‘Look, now’s the chance to get your enemy. After all if God didn’t want you to get even he would have never brought Saul into the cave’. Leaders have to be worried about their own men’s advice as well! It’s hard to walk this fine line at times, but true leadership listens to council and should err on the side of mercy. This is a good rule of thumb. Saul tells David ‘forgive me son, this day you have proven me wrong. Surely you will eventually become the king’. Saul goes home and David goes back to the stronghold in the wilderness. David realized that no matter how many times the lord would defend him against Saul, that Saul would be a permanent obstacle. Why? It’s in mans nature to want to retaliate against change. Especially change that involves a removal of authority that was at one time used by God! Saul was not the original intent of God [or David!] but once God’s people traveled down the road of kingship, God did use this mode of authority. Now Saul did become addicted to power. Even though leaders have good hearts and mean well, when there comes a change of authority [like the movement of communal church where there no longer is the role of ‘the pastor’] this challenges leadership at its core. Even if leaders become convinced that a change is coming [like Saul recognizing David’s destiny] still the sinful nature of man will come back and rears it ugly head. David knew that Saul would be back on his trail soon.

(902)SAMUEL 19- Saul puts out the word to his men ‘if you see David kill him’! Jonathan tells David ‘go hide in the field and I will go out where you are and speak on your behalf to my father. Then I will come and tell you all the words he has spoken’. Jonathan speaks well to Saul on David’s behalf and David is restored back into the presence of the king. I see Jesus intercession ministry here. Jesus goes to the father on our behalf, we ‘rest in a hiding place’ [in Christ] while he speaks well of us to the father. He ‘gives us the words that the father has given him ‘[Johns gospel] and we are restored back into the ‘presence of the king’. But in David’s case the restoration doesn’t last long. David will flee to Samuel in Ramah, Saul sends his men to get David. Each time they show up they are confronted with this prophetic weapon of intercession in the hand of the lead prophet, Samuel. Samuel is prophesying over a company of prophets and Saul’s men ‘fall under the Spirit of prophecy’ and prophesy too! This happens with 3 different groups of men until Saul himself comes. The same thing happens with him. The ministry of prophecy testifies of Christ. The gift itself is a Divine mechanism in the community of God that protects/defends Gods anointed king [David/Jesus]. Samuels’s gift was meant for more than just personal fulfillment, a ‘my ministry’ mentality. He was overseeing a company of prophets and instilling this dynamic into the broader community of Israel. In the church today prophets should function along the lines of building into the broader community for the overall benefit of the church. There have been good men who have operated in the prophetic gift for many years. They have raised up younger prophetic ministries under them and have lived very effective prophetic lives for many years. It is sad that many in the Body of Christ have no idea of this entire section of the church. Because of abuses and flagrant bad doctrine, many simply live their entire lives without ever experiencing the prophetic aspect of Christ’s church. In this story we see the prophetic ministry, under Samuel, playing a key role in the life of Gods people. NOTE- One example of a modern day prophetic ministry that has been stable and has launched many young prophets would be Bishop Bill Hammon out of Florida. He has been around for years and has had a very influential ministry over the lives of many good young men.

(899)SAMUEL 16- Samuel is coming from the recent ‘hacking incident’ of king Agag, and the Lord tells him to go to Bethlehem and anoint a new king. Samuel is afraid ‘what if Saul hears about it? He will kill me’. Notice, Samuel feels intimidated and fearful. When he gets to Bethlehem the scripture says the Elders were all in a panic, they said ‘are you come in peace’? Hey, they just heard about the hacking incident, word spreads fast when a prophet straps it on with some pagan! They must have been thinking Samuel was on a warpath. He tells them he is come in peace and wants to sacrifice with them and worship. As a little aside, when you have prophetic ministers in a city, it’s only natural that Elders [pastors] are going to feel intimidated. Why? Are prophets better men? No, but the prophetic operates under a different type of anointing. Don’t forget you already saw Samuel gain a reputation among the people because of his strong prophetic gift. Sometimes pastors can feel intimidated ‘geez, that guy hit the nail on the head. I hope he doesn’t call me out by name too!’ Samuel doesn’t ‘call them out’ but says ‘hey Elders, where all in this together. Let’s worship God’. Samuel finds David and anoints him. Saul is battling with all sorts of personal issues [evil spirit]. Even his close associates can pick up on it. The servants recommend for Saul to get a worshipper who can play music and minister to Saul. They tell him ‘yeah, there is this guy named David. He’s real good at playing music. Plus he is a valiant and mighty warrior’. We often see David as a ‘mamby pamby mamma’s boy’ at this stage of his life. But scripture says he already built up a reputation as a fighter. David takes the job and becomes a musician for Saul. A few thoughts. In this chapter we see Gods Spirit [anointing] leaving Saul and going with David. David himself in Psalms pleas with the Lord ‘take not thy Holy Spirit from me’ after his sin with Bathsheba. Let me encourage some of my Pastor friends. It’s easy to read stuff like this, or for some ‘prophet’ to pronounce stuff like this to a pastor. I really don’t see applying this scenario to modern day ministers. God’s Spirit in the Old Testament was operating differently than today. Only one king at a time could have the ‘kingly anointing’. When the Spirit left Saul for David it was because God was only anointing one person for the job. Today, while it’s possible for a pastor/minister to mess up and ruin his ministry, I still wouldn’t apply stuff like this in too much of a personal way. Sort of like ‘The Lord must have left me and now he’s chosen so and so on the other side of town’. The Lord ‘doesn’t leave you’ in this way under the New Covenant. Paul said the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, in context he is speaking of natural Israel, but you can also apply it to believer’s gifts today. How much God uses you does depend on your willingness and obedience to his call, but don’t think he left ‘your church’ and went to the other one down the street! [he hasn’t written ‘Michelob’ on your door! See entry 887]

(897)SAMUEL 14- Saul and the people are hiding in fear, Jonathan tells his armor bearer ‘Lets go up to the enemy and show ourselves. If they tell us ‘come here’ we will take it as a sign from the Lord and fight. God can save by many or by few’. They go up and defeat around 20 men in half an acre of land. The scripture says the enemy trembled and the earth as well! It seems like the Lord shook things up, literally! [Another reminder of the book of Acts]. Saul and his people see the enemy fleeing and can’t figure out what’s happened. He takes a quick roll call and realizes Jonathan is gone. They figure out what has happened and enter the fray. The people pursue the enemy and have great victory. Saul says ‘let no man eat today until the sun goes down’. He begins making community wide decisions that are harmful to the people. Jonathan doesn’t hear this rash decision and eats some honey. The people are shocked. They know the curse of Saul. They finally win the battle and they seek the Lord for further instructions. God is silent. Saul figures it’s because there is sin in the camp and they find out that Jonathan was the one who ate the honey. Jonathan says ‘yea, I did eat it, and now I must die’? Sort of like ‘what a stupid and rash thing for you to have said! The people were all tired and drained because of following your singular ideas that were pronounced to the whole community. They would have gained strength if they simply did what was natural and ate when they were hungry’. Saul honors his stupid agenda over his own son and says ‘that’s right, you must die’. He was more willing to kill his son then to admit he was wrong. The people stand up with one voice and say ‘no way Saul, Jonathan has won a great victory. You will not get away with this’! What happened here? Was Saul so inherently evil that he couldn’t help himself? I think what we see here is the result of the mistake for Israel to have wanted a king like the other nations. When the church historically began to be centered around singular authority figures [monarchial episcopacy] you began to loose the freedom and health of the people of God to ‘feed themselves when hungry’. They began to become dependant upon the institutional church to tell them about God and his truth. Eventually you would have the modern expression of highly entrepreneurial ministries that would find well meaning Pastors trying to make corporate wide decisions in ways that were absent from the local churches in scripture. When the people of God lean too heavily on the gifts and leadings of one man, there is a tendency for the leader to come up with goals and decrees that are contrary to the full purpose of God. It is inherent in man to set goals and make broad decisions. That’s not wrong in itself. But the people of God in scripture are formed along the lines of a community of people, not a 501c3 corporation. So the well meaning Pastors have a natural tendency to say ‘what decisions should I make for the church this year? What goals and dreams should we put before the people’ and this inevitably leads to entire communities of believers being too focused on the singular directions of well meaning men. I think Saul simply came up with things to say because he felt he needed to exert leadership. God’s people really didn’t need Saul from the start! As far as I can see from reading the New Testament, the only corporate ‘goal’ or project that Paul would put before the people was his collecting of money for the poor. Now of course there were many spiritual goals of growth and becoming mature believers who praise and glorify God. But I don’t see any other ‘project’ that Paul was regularly laying before the people to join. No structure in the churches of scripture where Paul would say ‘Now Corinth, when I come back next year lets see 50 house churches, reaching 48 % of this region. And oh yes, lets raise this much money for this project’. Much of the modern church is too centered around these types of pleas. The many well meaning men who are operating out of good intentions for the most part are ‘just doing what kings [leaders- C.E.O.’s] are supposed to do’. The fundamental flaw is God never originally intended for his people to be structured along these lines. Many up and coming believers are seeing this and coming out of these limited structures. They are telling Saul with one corporate voice ‘you wont get away with this anymore’. [‘Saul’ in this scenario is not your individual Pastor, who for the most part is probably a good man who loves God. But ‘Saul’ is speaking to the whole concept of modern pastoral ministry that is absent from the churches in scripture].

(895)SAMUEL 12- Samuel is getting old. He calls the people together and reviews his life before them. His defense sounds a lot like Paul’s defense to the Ephesian elders in the book of Acts [chapter 20]. Samuel tells the people ‘all the time I have been with you, did I ever take your goods to enrich myself? Did I use my authority in a way to advance myself?’ he basically witnesses before the people that he was not in this for self gain. He also reviews the history of Israel. He reminds them of their past and how the Lord delivered them from Egypt. It is important to see that although Samuel was a great prophet who operated in tremendous gifts, yet he saw the need to also ground the people in history and doctrine. He knew the importance of remembering past events. Both the Passover and the Lords Table are Divine instances of ‘remembrance’ that God has ordained for his people. Samuel will once again rebuke them for rejecting God by choosing a king. He will call down thunder and rain during their wheat harvest as a sign of Gods anger. The people see this and fear greatly ‘pray to the Lord for us Samuel, we have sinned’. He encourages them and tells them ‘even though you have done lots of wrong stuff, yet it’s not too late to turn to the Lord from this day forward and make a course correction’. In all reproving and correcting we need to always leave room for repentance. Some will never change the way ‘they think and act’ [message bibles version of repentance] but we need to understand that this is the goal of all correction and judgment. Samuel tells the people he will ‘not cease praying for them’ and continue to teach them well. Jesus told Peter ‘if you love me, feed my sheep’. John says ‘this is how we can tell we love God, when we love his kids and obey his commands’. What is Jesus command? ‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and might. And thy neighbor as thyself’. Samuel realizes that his faithfulness to God is directly related to his treatment of Gods people. Though he is a gifted prophet, yet he prays and teaches and remains consistent in the more mundane areas of ‘the ministry’. I have found that God looks for faithfulness in the mundane things before he honors the more flagrant gifts. It’s good to have the ability to speak or prophesy or sing for the Lord, but the need to be a consistent intercessor for God’s people takes priority. Samuel taught them history. He oversaw the problems and situations they went thru. He did not become wealthy from the people. He served the lord faithfully from his youth. Hannah gave him to the Lord at a very young age, God took what was given and made the most out of it.

(893)SAMUEL 10- Samuel anoints Saul with oil. He gives him very specific prophetic direction ‘you will meet 2 men, then 3. They will be carrying 3 loaves of bread and give you 2’. Very particular information. Saul will meet a company of prophets and prophesy with them. The scripture says the Lord changed Saul into another man thru this prophetic experience. Once again we see not only the significance of Israel being under the divine direction of the prophetic [thru Samuel]. But his prophetic office also opened the door for a ‘whole company of prophets’ having freedom to function in their gifts. Over the years I have found it interesting to see how easy it is to live your entire Christian experience in different camps. Some of the more refined brothers [Reformed, Orthodox] have a great advantage in the field of intellectual pursuit [which is a good thing!] but might not be aware of the sector in the church that deals with the prophetic. The prophetic ministry has grown and even produced some fine intellectual material [some bad stuff too!] The point is we need to try and be aware [at least have a working knowledge] of the many streams that operate in the Body of Christ. You might not agree with a lot of the doctrinal positions that these various groups hold to, but as members of Christ’s church they do represent a certain sector of the church. Saul will follow thru and see all the prophetic signs come to pass in one day. Samuel instructs him to wait for him to come and publicly recognize him as king. After 7 days Samuel comes to town and Saul is hiding. He feared all the things that were coming upon him. Samuel finds him and publicly recognizes him. Also Samuel told the people that their choice of a human king was rejection of God. Some of the people are glad about Saul, others despise him from the start. There is a strange dynamic that I have seen at work over the years. When individual personalities and goals pit themselves against other people’s visions, there seems to be a division that is not healthy. I have had good friends who wanted to publicly join and be identified with ‘my ministry’. I would simply tell them ‘there really is nothing to join, we are simply believers trying to live out the Kingdom of God’. Then other pastors would see that some of the homeless people that they are working with have become ‘joined’ to us in a strong relational way. Then I would sense a kind of mindset that would say to the homeless person ‘well, if brother John has such good influence with you, maybe you should be with him instead of us’. They would not say this in a bad way, just in a way that is prevalent in the present mindset of ‘doing church’. I see all these divisions as silly, they come from an idea of local church that has many various ‘local churches’ [Christian ministries] as seeing themselves as independent entities who are trying to instill loyalty in people. ‘Are you with us or against us’ type attitudes. In Saul’s case he had friends and enemies right from the start. When individual personalities and agendas [which God warned them about!] become preeminent in the minds of the people [contrary to the corporate comminutes as seen in the local churches in scripture] then there is a natural tendency to take sides.

(892)SAMUEL 9- This is a prophetic chapter that parallels the book of Acts to a degree. Remember when we did Acts I showed you how it seemed that Paul [Saul] from Benjamin might have seen some prophetic significance to the fact that he too shared the same name and heritage [Benjamite] as Israel’s first king? Here we see Samuel play a roll similar to Ananias [Acts 9] in hearing the lord give instructions concerning Saul. Both Paul and Saul were told to go into a city and receive instructions. The lord confirms his word to Samuel that ‘this is the man I told you about’. Both Ananias and Samuel have prophetic signs that confirm the sovereign choice of God. Saul in this chapter is seeking for his fathers lost donkeys. They are about to give up and Saul’s servant says ‘there is a man in the city who hears from God’. Samuel had a reputation of being a prophet [seer]. Seers [another word for prophet. There is some distinction between a ‘prophet seer’ and ‘prophet’. But they are basically the same thing in my mind] were able ‘to see’ into the future about things. Samuel is said to be able to ‘tell Saul the secrets of his heart’. His words ‘come to pass’. He has God communicating to him in a direct way. Samuel is like Agabus in the book of Acts. A prophet who experienced God in supernatural ways. Samuel confirms Gods call on Saul’s life and tells him ‘I have some instructions to give you’ [next chapter!] What role did Samuel play in Israel? He obviously functioned in a prophetic gift that not only predicted what would come to pass, but also gave direction and spiritual oversight to Gods people. The New Testament teaching on prophets clearly teaches that they are part of the functioning ministry of the church. There have been many heresies and mistakes and even cultic ‘prophets’. But the basic teaching in scripture is they are a God ordained ministry that never passed away. We should approach prophets as we do pastors or teachers or any other gift. Are they stable in the faith? Do they have a good grasp of scripture? Good character? All the same principles that apply for Elders. The idea that after the canon of scripture was complete there were no more apostles or prophets has no scriptural support [read my section on apostolic, covering, shepherding]. Both church history and scripture support the ongoing role of prophets in the church. Now, I really doubt that all the fine brothers who declare themselves as prophets are. Some are learning about the gift. Some are functioning at various prophetic levels. But the office carries a lot of weight with it. I see Martin Luther King as a prophetic voice to our nation. He actually spoke of his death in a prophetic way the night before he was assassinated. There are also prophetic voices in history who spoke to their nation and people at crucial times. Alexander Solzenitzen [Russia] would speak out against repressive regimes. But we need to understand that the basic revelatory element of the prophetic [to be able to see and know things supernaturally] was included in the biblical gift of the prophet.

(891)SAMUEL 8- Samuel’s sons are appointed as judges over Israel [leaders]. They are wicked, just like the sons of Eli. I find this interesting, Samuel was a product to some degree of his ‘spiritual elder’. Even though Samuel himself was a righteous man, yet he passed on to his kids the same leadership style that he tutored under. The children of Israel come to him and request a king ‘like the other nations’. It is important to see that God states clearly that this is not part of ‘the original plan’. God will tell Samuel that this desire for human leadership, along the lines of other ‘gentile nations’ is rebellion. Jesus will tell the disciples ‘the gentiles exercise lordship over one another, it shall not be like this with you’. Israel wanted to be dominated by a king! God tells Samuel to show them what they are asking for. And then goes thru a long list of things ‘he will take the best of your people and use them for self advancement. He will require a tenth of all you have. He will build a legacy for himself and his name by using you as resources to attain a personal goal of achievement’. In essence the lord is warning them that when you raise up human leadership in a singular way [one king] that violates the plural mindset of scripture, then you inevitably will become a servant to human institutions and purposes. I find it interesting that the Lord mentions the tithe and how this will arise as a result of wrong ideas on what leadership should be. Historically the early church did not practice tithing. As the centuries rolled along tithing was originally instituted as a ‘tax’ from the church/state on the people to support the institutional purposes of the church/state. In essence the tithe/tenth did become a means whereby human government would obtain power and prestige among the gentile nations. The word of the Lord was true! [It’s okay for believers to give 10 % to the church on Sunday, the curse of the law on those who do not do this should not be invoked from Malachi. The appeal should be based on grace giving]. Israel will get her king, God will eventually use the Kings of Israel for his prophetic purposes. David and Solomon will be pictures of Jesus and his future rule. Just like the temple, God will initially tell David ‘who do you think you are trying to build a house for me’? [Thru the prophet Nathan] but will still use the temple as a prophetic type of the people of God being a ‘holy temple’. So the Lord will allow sinful man to obtain things contrary to his original purpose, and yet still be glorified thru these requests. Also the sons of Samuel went astray ‘after lucre’ [verse 3]. Just like Paul and Peters warnings in the New Testament ‘taking the oversight, not for filthy lucre’ ‘some have strayed from the faith while coveting money’ so Samuels boys fell to this temptation. I know it’s popular in today’s circles to simply overlook all these verses from scripture. Many sincere men do not see them because their ‘grid’ of interpretation won’t allow it. I just wanted to note how this theme of covetousness is a scarlet thread that runs thru out the entire body of scripture.

(874)ROMANS 15: 20-33 ‘Now I go to Jerusalem to minister to the saints’ ‘my service to them’. Paul tells the Romans that he is going to ‘minister’ and have ‘service’ towards the Jerusalem saints. How would you take it if I said ‘I am going to New York to minister, hold a ‘service’ in the church’. You would see me as saying I was going to preach in a building, do my best to encourage the people. And before I left I was going to receive an offering. Paul is saying nothing of the sort! His ‘ministry and service’ are speaking of his charitable work among the poor. He received gifts from the churches for the sole purpose of meeting the needs of the poor. He even says ‘if you Gentiles have been made partakers of their blessings, you should help them out financially’. We are familiar with this terminology when Paul uses it to speak of meeting the needs of Elders, but we very rarely apply it to the meeting of the needs of the poor. Paul had a ‘service’ for the saints, and he was not speaking in terms of going to some town and preaching a message and taking an offering. Service in the first century context was giving of your time and resources for the benefit of others. Doing things at your own expense, not always receiving a recompense yourself. I wonder where they got such an ‘unbiblical idea’. It reminds me of the time when Jesus put on a towel and washed the disciples feet. Another one of those strange passages that seem to teach that leadership is here to serve, not be served. These kingdom precepts do not fit in with the modern idea of ‘ministry/service’.

(862)ROMANS 11- let me make a note on the previous entry. Over the last few years, as well as many years of experience with ‘ministry/church’, I have seen how easy it is to fall into the well meaning mindset of ‘I am going into the ministry, this is my career choice. My responsibility is to do ‘Christian stuff’ and the people’s role is to support me’[ I am not taking a shot at well meaning Pastors, I am basically speaking of the many friends I have met over the years who seemed to think ministry was a way to get financial support]. In the previous entry I mentioned how Paul seemed to have a mode of operation that said ‘when I am residing with a community of believers, I refuse to allow them to support me. I will work with my own hands to give them an example, not only to the general saints, but also to the elders. I am showing you that leadership is not a means to get gain’. It does seem ‘strange’ for us to see this. Of course we know Paul also taught the churches that it was proper and right to support those who ‘labor among you’. I have taught all this in the past and I don’t want to ‘re-teach’ it all again. The point I want to make is we ‘in ministry’ really need to rethink what we do. How many web-sites have I gone to that actually have icons that say ‘pay me here’. The average person going to these sites must think ‘pay you for what’? Paul did not teach the mindset of ‘pay me here, now’. Also in this letter to the Romans we are reading Paul’s correspondence to the believers at Rome. He often used this mode of ‘authority’ [writing letters] to exercise his apostolic office. Of course he also traveled to these areas [Acts] and spent time with them. And as I just showed you he supported himself on purpose when he was with the saints. Basically Paul is carrying out the single most effective apostolic ministry of all time [except for Jesus] and he is doing it without all the modern techniques of getting paid. He actually is doing all this writing and laboring at his own expense. He told the Corinthians ‘the fathers [apostles] spend for the children, not the children for the fathers’. So in todays talk on ‘apostles’ being restored. God ‘bringing back into alignment apostolic government’ we need to tone down all the quoting of verses [even the things Paul said!] that seem to say to the average saint ‘how do you expect us to reach the world if you do not ‘bring all the tithes into the storehouse’! When we put this guilt trip on the people of God we are violating very fundamental principles of scripture. Now, let’s try and finish up chapter 11. Paul is basically telling Israel and the Gentiles that God’s dealings are beyond our understanding [last few verses]. God is using the ‘unbelief’ of Israel as an open door to the Gentiles. He is also using the mercy that he is showing to the Gentiles as an ‘open door’ to Israel! He will ‘provoke them to jealousy’. There are a few difficult verses that would be unfair for me to skip over. ‘All Israel shall be saved’. Paul uses this to show that God’s dealings with natural Israel as a nation are not finished. Who are ‘all Israel’? Some say ‘the Israel of God’ [the church]. I don’t think this fits the text. Some say ‘all Israel that will be alive at the second coming’ I think this is closer. To be honest I think this can simply mean ‘all Israel’ all those who are alive and also raised at the return of the Lord. Now, this would be a form of universalism [all people eventually being saved]. I am not a Universalist, but I don’t want any ‘preconceived’ mindset [even my own!] to taint the text. I think God has the ability to reveal himself to the whole nation of Israel in such a way that ‘they all will be saved’. If I were a Jewish person I wouldn’t wait for this to happen! Just like the Calvinists argument of ‘why witness’? Because God commands it. So even though you can make an argument here for a type of universal redemption at Christ’s revealing of himself to Israel at the second coming [which is in keeping with this chapter, as well as other areas in scripture; ‘they will look upon him whom they have pierced’ ‘God will pour out the spirit of mourning and supplication on Israel at his appearing’. Which by the way would fit in with ‘whoever calls on the Lord will be saved’ which I taught in chapter 10. This is a futurist text implying a time of future judgment and wrath’]. So God’s dealings with Israel are not finished. Paul also warns the Gentiles ‘don’t boast, if God cut out the true branches [Israel] to graft you in. He can just as quickly cut you out too’! It would be dishonest for me [a Calvinist] to simply not comment on this. You certainly can take this verse in an Arminian way. Or you can see Paul speaking in a ‘nationalistic sense’. Sort of like saying ‘if Germany walks away from the faith, they will be ‘cut out’. [France would have been a better example! Speaking of the so called ‘enlightenment’ and the French Revolution]. In essence ‘you Gentiles, don’t think “wow, look at us. God left Israel and we are now special!”’ Paul is saying ‘you Gentiles [as a whole group] stand by faith. God could just as quickly ‘cut you out’ and replace you with another group’. I also think the Arminians could use this type of argument for the previous predestination chapter [9]. But to be honest I needed to give you my view. One more thing, Paul quotes Elijah ‘lord, I am the only one left’. He uses this in context of God having a remnant from Israel who remained faithful to the true God. God told Elijah ‘there are 7 thousand that have not bowed the knee to baal’. Paul uses this to show that even in his day there were a remnant Of Jews [himself included] who received the Messiah. An interesting side note. The prophetic ministry [Elijah] seems to function at a ‘popular level’. Now, I don’t mean ‘fame’, but Elijah was giving voice to a large undercurrent that was running thru the nation. If you read the story of Elijah you would have never known that there were ‘7 thousand’ who never bowed the knee! Often times God will use prophetic people to ‘give voice’ or popularize a general truth that is presently existing in the ‘underground church’ at large. Sort of like if Elijah had a web site, the 7 thousand would have been secretly reading it and saying ‘right on brother, that’s exactly what we believe too’!

(861)Romans 11:13- ‘For I speak to you Gentiles, in as much as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office’. Let me just make a few comments today. How is Paul ‘exercising’ his apostolic authority over the Gentiles in Rome? We know he hasn’t been there yet [since becoming a follower of Jesus]. He did not have some type of relationship with them where they contributed to him. He was holding no ‘church services’. He exercised it by speaking into their lives and caring for their welfare. He did this by WRITING THIS LETTER! Recently there has been some discussion on ‘Gods government’ and the apostles ‘bringing things into alignment’ [dealing with the mistakes at Lakeland]. Lots of talk that I am familiar with. What is Gods government? In the world we have 2 competing ‘world views’- systems or modes of operation. You have God’s kingdom, and then the worlds system. When the apostle John said ‘love not the world, neither the things that are in the world’ he was referring to this system of lies and pride and sin. In Gods kingdom you operate under his laws ‘love the Lord thy God with all thy heart… and your neighbor as yourself’. In this family [children of God] you have different types of ‘gifts’. Some are apostles, others prophets, etc. All these gifted ones are given for the singular purpose of building you up so you can have a mature faith grounded in Christ and be the ‘glorious temple’ of God in the earth. Paul was playing his part by communicating Jesus to these Roman Gentiles. He did not have some type of a corporate relationship with them where he said ‘commit to my authority over you. Either I will be your ‘covering’ or someone else!’ These are mans ideas. Now, we often say ‘Paul didn’t receive money from the Corinthians, but he did from the other churches’. I have said this myself. Paul did receive support from the Philippians, but that was support for his traveling ministry. To get him to the next place. If you read carefully you will see Paul telling the Thessalonians ‘when I was with you I did not eat, or take stuff for free. My hands ministered to both me and those that were with me’ I think he even said he worked night and day. When he spoke to the Ephesians elders in the book of Acts, he also said ‘I labored when I was with you, I did not take support from you when I was there. I did this to leave you ELDERS an example’. Now, the point I want to make is it seems as if Paul did not take money when he was actually living among the saints. It seems he took it only for traveling expenses [and of course for his ministry to the poor saints at Jerusalem]. Now, I believe and teach that it is scriptural to meet the needs, financially, of laboring elders. The reason I mention this is to show you that being an ‘apostle’ or any other gifted minister in the church simply means you bear extra responsibility to bring Gods people to maturity. It was not some type of office where you were a ‘professional minister’. When I hear all the talk of ‘Gods apostles are bringing Gods government back into alignment’ for the most part these are men’s ideas being applied to an American corporate 501c3 ministry. Gods ‘government’ operates along different lines. So in this example Paul said ‘I magnify my office’ he was simply imparting some truth to them for the purpose of their own edification. Paul did not see them coming under ‘his covering’,

(850)PROPHETIC UPDATE! As of today [8-08] enough has happened in the last few years to kind of encapsulate the state of the church [Gods people] and where we are heading. Whenever you have ‘prophetic people’ and movements make some real obvious mistakes, I always feel tempted to go thru this site and delete everything that deals with ‘prophecies, dreams and visions’. This has happened to me on more than a few occasions. But the Lord kind of stops me. Now, why do I mention this? Because these last few years the charismatic/prosperity churches have gone thru some turmoil. The ‘Emergent’ movement has also struck a nerve with the Reformed defenders of the faith, and they have also had some battles. In the midst of it all you also had a resurgence of Catholic apologists [Scott Hahn] and ‘the defend the fullness of truth’ conferences. First, I felt the Lord was going to deal with the more obvious abuses of the prosperity movement a few years back. I even ‘prophesied’ that this would happen [on this site!]. So this is a legitimate ‘correction’ that is taking place as of this year. Some of the main leaders of the movement have come under some serious ‘judging’. Also, the more theological/mature Emergent movement has come under fire by the Reformed preachers because of some real problems. Some in the Emergent church have espoused ultra liberal ideas on the Atonement, Hell and other basic Christian doctrines. The problem is the older reform minded ‘correctors’ are for the most part absolutely ignorant of their own ‘blind spot’ in the area of Ecclesiology. They seem to think ‘defending the historic faith’ includes defending a ‘limited’ Ecclesiology. It’s too easy to just believe that Edwards, Luther, Calvin and all the other great minds of their eras must have been right on Church government and structure. For the most part they were not. So this part of the ‘emergent church’ have it right [those who challenge limited ideas of ‘church’]. Now, the recent ‘fiasco’ of the Lakeland revival. I believe the whole ‘group’ of Apostles and Prophets [?] that initially gave their approval are very questionable. Some of the men I do like [Rick Joyner], but the whole ‘apostolic network’ that some of these brothers belong to is very questionable [when I say ‘questionable’, I do not mean they are frauds or fakes. I mean the whole idea of having an ‘apostolic network’ seems to be missing the target]. I believe most of Gods true Apostles and Prophets today are men of great humility, they suffer persecution [like Watchmen Nee] and for the most part are serious students of the Word and ‘followers of the way’ [Christ’s example of a servant]. So today [2008] we need to be open to correction in the areas that are off base. We also need to be careful not to reject all ‘prophetic things’ out of a feeling of being embarrassed to even use the same terminology as some of these guys. And we need to recognize that some of the old time defenders of the faith [Sproul, Macarthur, Colson] do have very good points they are making when the emergent brothers reject the very basis of ‘knowable truth’, but they also have a huge blind spot in their ecclesiology [thinking defending the truth includes ‘Sunday Church’]. Also, the Catholic resurgence is important not to discount, some Evangelicals are becoming so frustrated with the Protestant ‘craziness’ and divisions, that they seem to find refuge in joining this ancient expression of Christianity. Let’s have a good vigorous debate, let’s strive for unity. The prophetic movement needs to receive correction. The prosperity movements more extreme elements need to be rejected outright. At the end of the day God is still going to do a great work in the earth. His people will show forth his glory and truly be the glorious temple that he desires.

(816)Okay, I lied! Just to clarify, these last few entries are dealing with years of studying and dealing with ‘organic church’. Many fine authors; Austin Sparks, Gene Edwards, Watchman Nee, Robert Banks, etc. There are varying themes and ideas that arose out of the ‘Rethinking the Wineskin’ mentality. One of the other areas of concern has to do with the understanding of ‘Apostles’ [itinerant workers] as it relates to the ‘Ecclesia’. I am grateful over the amount of believers in general who have recently come to grips with the fact that Apostles do exist today according to the plain reading of the New Testament. The ‘older idea’ of dividing up the portions of scripture that say ‘after Jesus ascended he gave gifts to men, Apostles, Prophets, etc.’ it is fairly obvious that these ‘Apostles’ were made after Christ’s ascension [Ephesians] and that they exist alongside the other gifts. Now, with all the recent dialogue on Apostles and ‘church planting’, do you know how many times the command is given in the New Testament to ‘start churches’? Zero! That’s right, no where in the New Testament are we [or Apostles] commanded to ‘go and plant a church’ Huh? All Christians [Apostles too!] are commanded to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. It is obvious that in the New Testament the Apostles did have a strong gifting to present the gospel and the gospel taking root in the people [which is what ‘church planting’ is!] But there is no reason to believe that as we challenge the idea of ‘hired clergy’ and the average believer’s dependence on them, that at the same time we should teach a concept that says ‘it is impossible to have a true ecclesia without the extra local worker’. This has been taught many times over the years as I have studied this movement. I feel the mistake is in seeing the power of ‘church planting’ residing in a specific role, and ONLY that role, while at the same time trying to free Gods people from the un biblical role of ‘full time Pastor’. As far as I can tell the church at Rome was ‘started’ by the Diaspora who were scattered sometime after Pentecost. Paul wrote them a letter [Romans] but did not arrive there until later. The point I want to make is this, as we challenge the present ideas and limitations that the ‘institutional church’ has put on the people of God, we don’t want to make the mistake of telling them that ‘the Apostle’ is now the ‘office’ that is indispensable to your healthy existence! The power of the gospel is what makes ‘healthy churches’ [communities]. Sure Apostles are important, but it is the power of the Spirit in the work of regeneration that ‘plants churches’. Now, someone does have to get the message to them! But whether that’s an Evangelist, Prophet or little old grandma! Once the gospel is proclaimed to a group of people, all the essential elements of life are present.

(815) It seems as if every time I take an excursion from a ‘study’ I do 3 or so posts. So let’s see if I can close here. There are obviously major hurdles and feelings at stake when any body says ‘look, I have found some great stuff in the bible. Lots of it has to do with the fact that what you thought was ‘church’ is not ‘church’. What you thought was a fulltime position of ‘Pastor’ is no where in scripture. And what you have been doing for the past 20 years is off track’. Any job description [Prophet!] that carries this type of function is not going to be well received! [I am not talking about me]. So as we examine and learn about the church and the role of leadership, we must realize that feelings are going to get hurt ‘who does he think he is! Man that guy is threatening my livelihood!’ Well, yes it is possible that the fact that there were no 1st century ‘Pastors’ in the context of what that word means today, can be threatening. So do we never address the issue because it is threatening? But do we go around and teach all the believers that they should abandon all present structures? I appreciate all the good teachers I have learned from over the years. Real insights into things that I would have never seen without their help. Some of these teachers have been excellent on revealing the fact that the 1st century church did not have the office of Pastor as the weekly speaker to the ‘local church’. This was not the normal way believers met. The 1st century gatherings were corporate ‘body life’ experiences. People learn and grow in a conversation with others. They stagnate by sitting in an audience [both the pastors and the spectators]. Now, some have argued that Elders, Pastors and Overseers in general had a very limited, if not non existent, role in the first century churches. This can be debated somewhat. I don’t want to argue the point, but simply say that there is enough evidence in scripture to believe that Elders [basic oversight] existed as a regular part of the communities of Jesus in the first century. These leaders were simply more mature men who gave direction and oversight to the flock as God ordained. They were not ‘Pastors’ in the sense of today’s Pastoral office. But they did exist in scripture. So in all of the well meaning efforts of returning back to a more biblical form of church life, I think we need to leave room for leadership to exist and function to some degree. Some of the brothers seem to have gone a little too ideological in the area of ‘no human headship’. They teach that the 1st century churches declared the headship of Jesus by having no human ‘control’ at all in the meetings [communities]. I kind of see their effort as noble, but a little too impractical. Some of this teaching goes along the line of ‘the biggest hindrance to the Body of Christ are the Pastors/Elders’. While I do see a negative result from believers overly depending on the present pastoral office. Yet I do not see a type of New Testament ecclesiology that was absent all human leadership. Leadership is there, it is plural [obey THEM that have the ‘rule’ over you- by the way ‘rule’ here is different than ‘rule’ when referring to human govt. and kings. Jesus did teach that Kingdom leadership would be thru care and oversight] and it is communal. It exercises itself thru leaders [Apostles, Prophets, Elders, etc.] as they live together as a community of people. So the basic reason I am bringing this up is I feel some have drawn a little too idealistic picture of ‘the local meetings’ in the first century. Sort of like the meetings were very spiritual because of a total lack of oversight. I don’t see this description at all. I see Paul writing the Corinthians and rebuking them strongly for having terrible meetings! Now his solution isn’t ‘have everyone one shut up and listen to the Pastor’ [there was no ‘Pastor’!] but there certainly wasn’t some type of purposeful ‘leaderless’ church that had no recognized leaders. To the contrary Paul will give specific instructions in his pastoral epistles [Timothy, Titus] to make sure the local saints knew who were recognized Elders. Paul was not afraid of saying ‘these guys are leaders, if you have problems and situations that arise in my absence, don’t be afraid to go to them. They are stable in the faith’. So while it is true that the first century churches did not have the office of Pastor as we have come to define it today. Yet they weren’t a bunch of ‘leaderless’ people. Elders existed and Paul seemed to have no problem with everyone knowing who the Elders were.

(799) [I stuck this one in because it deals with the mentality of Jesus and his ideas on authority. One of the errors of the Apostolic movement were teachings on ‘the great power and fame’ the end time Apostles and Prophets would have]. JESUS PARABLES- Well I already covered the ‘mustard seed’ in the introduction and spoke on the Tares and Wheat. I forgot to mention that we see a simple end times teaching from Jesus in these parables. Now I realize the many varied views on the subject of the parables and end time dispensationalism. Good Christians [I find myself having to say this a lot!] at times have taught a type of scenario where many of the sayings of Jesus about the end times seem to refer only to the Jewish people and they have ways of ‘watering down’ the many plain statements of Jesus about the final judgment. But notice how he says ‘at the end of the world the angels go forth and separate the good from the bad’. The ‘tares are taken away’ and the good wheat remains. In the parables you see both the believers and unbelievers together right up until the second coming. You don’t see a time where there are ‘no good wheat’ and the tares are saying ‘hey, where did all the good wheat go? Maybe the aliens took them’? [I know this sounds silly, but many believers espouse stuff like this!] So anyway we see the idea of Jesus people being present right up until the judgment. The ‘bad seed’ are taken away first, then the righteous shine forth in their fathers Kingdom. Also we see the value that Jesus places on ‘nothingness’ that is becoming least, giving up the pursuits of glory. He is not looking for ‘great faith and men of great stature’ he is looking for ‘the mustard seed mentality’. Now in the introduction I hit on the idea that Jesus himself embodies the mustard seed. He was truly ‘the least of all seeds’ and buried himself in the ground. He has become the greatest ‘tree’ in all the earth! The Christian church [his Body!] is the biggest worldwide movement today [I know Islam is trying hard to catch up]. Jesus ‘smallness’ allowed him to attain greatness. In Philippians Paul says Jesus emptied himself and became the lowest of all, and because of this the Father gave him a name above every name. Jesus taught this to the disciples when James and John were looking for advancement. Their mother requested that they would have high positions of authority in his Kingdom. Jesus would respond that authority and influence come from servant hood and ‘being least’. Jesus would say of John the Baptist ‘he is the greatest of the prophets, nevertheless he that is least in the kingdom is greater than John’. Some have taught this to mean John was the last of the Old Testament order of prophets, and therefore even the smallest ‘born again believer’ is better than John. But you could also take it as Jesus saying ‘John, you have a great calling. You opened the way for the Messiah. You truly are one of the greatest Prophets of all time. But I, the Messiah, am the least of all seeds to ever be in the earth. I have emptied myself more than any other person. I John, am greater than you’.

(797)INTRODUCTION TO THE PARABLES- I was going to finish our study in Judges today, but I felt like sharing something else. Recently I have been reading the parables of Jesus out of my first King James Bible. Even though I give away lots of my books and stuff, yet I managed to hold on to this keepsake. Actually I did give it away and eventually got it back! That’s why I am writing this entry. If you read the first 50 or so entries [1-50!] from the section ‘Prophecies, Dreams, Visions part 1’ you will read the story of my journey to Texas as a young rebel and how after I became a believer I led one of my old buddies from Jersey to the Lord. This friend became a believer and we learned and grew as Christians. Eventually he would die of Aids. I had given him my first bible and years later got it back. As I read thru it I realized he made notes and stuff in it. Things like ‘ask John about this?’ and other interesting stuff. Of course this bible is special to me because it contains personal insights from my first convert to the Lord. So let me share a few things I recently read. He wrote ‘God will take care of you if you have faith’ and ‘the presence of contrary winds does not mean you are out of Gods will’. Hebrews says ‘though he is dead he yet speaketh’. I consider this a privilege of being part of a Christian communion that all believers belong to. We have brothers who are looking at us from heaven right now. We truly belong to a ‘communion of saints’. After all these years, for you to get something from this simple sharing of my brothers thoughts is part of the process of being in this communion. Look at the simplicity of these words ‘God will take care of you if you have faith’ ‘the presence of contrary winds does not mean you are not in Gods will’. As I finish our study in Judges I think I am going to share a few of Jesus parables. In these parables we see Jesus ethos of the Kingdom, the things he puts value on. These things are contrary to what we value, especially as we look at ‘modern ministry’. Jesus will teach the value of not being famous or recognized! The value of becoming ‘the least of all’. Things like the mustard seed being the least of all seeds, but when it is sown it becomes the greatest. We often see faith from this. While this does apply, we also see Jesus ‘the grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying’ [John’s gospel] Jesus, who Isaiah prophesied ‘I am a WORM AND NO MAN’. The Son of God who would become the least of all ‘seeds’. Who actually experienced the accumulated ‘feelings of unworthiness and absolute condemnation’ that all the sins of the world could bring upon a person. He personally experienced the actual act of being forsaken and told by God ‘you are now a worm and no man’. You think ‘how could this be’ this was an aspect of bearing the sins of humanity on himself. Jesus will teach us the importance of being last, how it is of great value if in the eyes of man you look like a failure, but in the eyes of God you lived humbly. Jesus even values the words of people who lived sinful lives and failed often. He never condones sin, but he still values these ‘little ones’ [in the eyes of men] he will even use the words of one who died of aids.

(791)JUDGES 18- The tribe of Dan sends 5 spies to check out the land of Laish, it was supposed to be part of their inheritance. On the way they pass Mount Ephraim, where Micah and the ‘hired priest’ live. They enquire in the house of Micah about their journey. They are assured God is with them. They see Laish and return with the good report. Laish is a land where the people are ‘isolated’ they do no business with any other tribes. Too sectarian in their little community [ouch!]. So the tribe of Dan hears the report and arms 600 men for battle. As they go to get their land, they once again stop at the idolatrous house of Micah. They make a ‘job offer’ to the ‘hired priest’ and appeal to success and status among clergy ‘do you want to come and be our hired priest? Wouldn’t you rather be priest of a whole tribe instead of one household’? He takes the job promotion and on their way out Micah tries to stop them from taking his priest but doesn’t have the manpower to do it. Dan introduces this false priesthood on a large scale to the people of God. Scripture says while they were involving themselves in this false worship, the House of God was still in Shiloh. Now we have covered a lot of ground here. I want to be careful but truthful about wrong worship in the church. First, I do find it amazing that the Lord did not cut Micah off originally when he got into his stuff! The history of Israel includes a time period where they thought the high places in their land were a sign of true religion. When some of the kings institute a return to the Lord, they leave the high places alone. Although these high places were idolatrous, yet in their ignorance they really thought they were honoring God. I see a degree of this here. Now the hired priest continues to represent the mentality of the hired offices of the clergy. All good people, but often operating in systems that lend themselves to the co dependency of Gods people. It is easy to see the idea of false worship and simply use this to bash Catholics. I prefer to see the false worship of Dan as a mark of all wrong tradition and teaching that come to us from the mind of man. Jesus rebuked the traditions that made void the Word of God, but Paul will tell his spiritual sons ‘hold to the traditions you have been taught by me’. Some traditions are needful. Things that our spiritual fathers have passed down to us. Don’t despise all tradition! Don’t see ‘the ministry’ as a way to gain status and climb the ladder in the corporate world. This priest of Micah took a position based on gentile authority. Something Jesus forbid for the leaders of his church. This priest saw self advancement in moving ‘his ministry’ to oversee the tribe of Dan. This root of pride will cause the limited idolatry at Micah’s house to leaven an entire tribe. Often times well meaning people become part of ‘extending wrong ideas’ thru out the church as they seek fame and recognition. Jesus taught us that true servants will not make decisions based on ‘how will this move promote me, how will I gain a name for myself’ these motivations blind us to the idolatry that exists in the church in our day. The New Testament equivalent of idolatry is covetousness. Leadership often overlooks the blatant abuse in this area as they pursue a name and advancement for ‘their ministries’. It’s easy to not want to hear Paul’s strong words in 1st Timothy 6 concerning leaders. We want to be able to ‘seek fame and fortune’ because it does feel good to be famous! Hebrews says ‘sin does have pleasure for a season’. So I see the whole scenario of Micah’s hired priest in all of us. I see the idolatry of Dan and false worship as leaven that affects all of Gods people [Protestants and Catholics alike]. I see the fact that God still used Micah to be a voice and instrument to the people of God even though he thru ignorance allowed idolatry to be entrenched in Israel. God is merciful and he will put up with our ignorance for a season, but I think that season has already passed. [Though his mercy endures forever!]

(785)Let’s end this little excursion from our study in Judges and finish our look into the 20th century as one of ‘the Spirit of Pentecost’. During the 60’s you had what was known as the Charismatic Movement. On the west coast there was an Episcopal Priest who announced to his congregation that he experienced the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues. The area Bishop forbid the Priest to introduce his experience as one accepted by the denomination. Some of his congregants disagreed with this decision and took it upon themselves to contact the media. Soon word spread like wildfire. You also had an outpouring of the Spirit at Duquesne University. Some see this as the historic beginning point of the Charismatic movement. Basically the movement speaks of the gifts of the Spirit, specifically Tongues, breaking into and across denominational lines. Eventually the Catholic Church would put her stamp of approval on the movement. Which after all would be in keeping with their official doctrine. They have always believed the gifts of the Spirit to be available to believers in all ages. During the late 60’s early 70’s the Jesus Movement would spring up on the west coast and many hippies and flower children would ‘turn on to Jesus’. Chuck Smith and John Wimber [initially Ken Guliksen] would lead 2 of the most successful church movements of the late 20th century. Smith would head up Calvary Chapel and Wimber would take the lead in the Vineyard churches. You had Keith Green [musician] room mating with Randy Stonehill at the time. Keith was searching for answers, Randy would recommend him to attend a Vineyard bible study led by Ken Guliksen. Keith would finally accept the Lord at the study and become this on fire musician for the Lord. Though the music industry saw him as ‘a prize’ Keith would start ‘Last Days Ministries’ and relocate to Lyndale Texas [across the road from Youth with a Mission- YWAM]. He would sadly die in a plane crash with 2 of his children on board. In 1989 you had the mixing of the Vineyard with some of the Prophets known as ‘the Kansas City Prophets’. These were the brothers out of Kansas City who were part of Mike Bickles church. Now Metro fellowship in Kansas City. Mike is no longer the lead Pastor, he heads up ‘I.H.O.P’ International House of Prayer, a great group of young people who take turns praying 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Now Paul Cain would meet Wimber and declare that Wimber was the Apostle that the Lord was going to use for the ‘great end time revival’. Paul Cain was so accurate in his ability to know the details of people’s lives, and to predict earthquakes and supernatural signs, that many were convinced that what Paul said was 100% accurate. The ‘marriage’ between the Vineyard and the modern prophetic movement [which is usually seen to have started out of Kansas City with Mike Bickle and Bob Jones, Paul Cain and a few other Prophetic brothers] was debatable. Some Pastors in the Vineyard churches [Tom Stipe among others] would eventually feel their churches were suffering from a lack of true biblical Christianity. Many new believers were looking too much to dreams, visions and personal prophecies as the normal guides for their lives. These believers were straying from the more sure path of prayer, bible study and simple trust in God. Chuck Smith would early on disassociate from the more flamboyant signs of the movement. He would take charge and let his churches know that they were to stick with the verse by verse exposition of the word at the normal church meetings. The Vineyard would run with the ‘go with the Spirit’ type mentality. Eventually the split between the movement known as the ‘Toronto blessing’ ‘Laughing revival’ would occur when John Arnott, Pastor of Toronto airport Vineyard church [in Toronto Canada] would break away from the Vineyard oversight. John Wimber would sadly pass away and the leadership of the Vineyard would return back to a more scripture oriented church [note- John Wimber himself was going this direction before his death, it seems as if he saw too much into the words that were being spoken to him from Paul Cain. Paul is a very humble man, who has fallen on some very hard times these past few years. It was easy for Wimber to believe all the wonderful words given to him from Paul, Paul was operating at a level of gifting that was unheard of for the time. Paul was the only ‘throwback’ from the mid century latter rain movement. He was a student under William Branham and sometimes would fill in for him at his meetings. By all accounts Paul received much of the anointing that Branham operated in]. The century will close out with the Toronto movement, as well as the Brownsville revival [Florida] having a fairly large impact on the church at large, as well as having many critics of the more extreme manifestations of the revivals [Toronto- people barking like dogs and stuff]. I do find it interesting that the century began with a movement that was for the most part associated with crying and repentance and would end with one of laughter and revival. In the restoration books of the Old Testament you have a seen where the foundation is being laid for the rebuilding of the temple. You have the younger generation happy and excited over the prospects of a new temple, but the older generation is standing there and weeping because to them it doesn’t seem to live up to their memories of ‘the good old days’. You had weeping and laughing as legitimate reactions to a real work of God. I think the ‘new’ moves need to be careful that they don’t read too much into the historic aspects of their movements until history itself writes the final chapter. But the ‘old timers’ also need to be open to the possibility of God ‘rebuilding the temple’ [spiritually speaking here!] and allowing the ‘latter house to receive more glory than the former’.

(784)Let’s stick with a little contemporary church history. In the last century you had what many believe to be one of the missing ‘planks’ of restoration of truth. The renewed emphasis on spiritual gifts, the idea that Apostles and Prophets were still gifts that people walked in. During the middle of the century you had the ‘Latter Rain movement’ and the rise of platform healing evangelists. The popular T.V. movie Elmer Gantry showed how the various church communions reacted to some of these evangelists. Many ‘old time’ churches were shocked at the persona and public display of these men [and women!] Some were shown to be outright hucksters! But others did have quite extraordinary gifts. The ‘most gifted’ brother was William Branham. William was a simple uneducated man who grew up in squalor conditions. The story of his birth and the supernatural signs surrounding his life are pretty interesting [look it up on Google, you will find tons of stuff on him]. Branham was gifted with the supernatural ability to know things about people, he had the singular ability to read the exact details of peoples lives. While many brand him as a false Prophet, he did seem to be a humble man that was doing his best to serve the Lord. This does not mean that I agree with all of Branham’s teachings or gifts! Other Christians who worked with Branham at the time would eventually leave his ministry out of a concern that his gifts might have been ‘mixed’ with other spiritual means of obtaining knowledge [like fortune telling and soothsaying]. Things that scripture forbids. I personally don’t know whether or not these accusations have merit to them, but it is important to see that these concerns were not coming from those who simply oppose all supernatural gifts. These concerns were voiced by some of Branham’s friends. During this time you had a few famous traveling ministers. A.A. Allen, Jack Coe and a few others became famous on the circuit. Many today testify of how the Lord used them in their lives. There were also many rumors [some true] that these men struggled with Alcohol and other vices. The Assemblies of God denomination would eventually openly rebuke a few of them who had credentials from their denomination. Brother Branham [he did believe in Jesus!] would embrace some weird doctrines. He had questions about the Trinity [well, he actually denied the doctrine] and would be impacted by the ‘Jesus only’ Pentecostal movement. He eventually felt like the death of his wife and child was a result of him not being more willing to minister among the oneness groups. As the century progressed you had the waning influence of the platform preachers. Some would still function from this paradigm, but for the most part the men and their movements passed on. You do still find a sort of cultic following of believers who remain loyal to brother Branham. Some believe he is one of the 2 witnesses spoken about in the book of Revelation. How come Branham had such influence over people’s lives? There is no doubt that this can be attributed to the actual real manifestations that took place under his ministry. Even the critics agree that there was some very unexplainable stuff going on. Some of the teachings of this period still influence believers today. The ‘Manifest Sons of God’ doctrine taught that there was coming a generation of saints who would walk in the fullness of all that God has promised, some believed that this group would even attain immortality in this life. The book of Romans does say that the whole creation is groaning and waiting for the day the Sons of God would fully manifest, but in context this is speaking of the resurrection. So the Lord used some of these brothers in a limited way. For the most part they suffered from a lack of a good education [don’t want to be demeaning] but were avid students of the Word. But as you can see this combination of knowing bible verses outside of the historic context of Church history [how others viewed these verses before them] can lead to dangerous conclusions. I for the most part do not condemn these brothers as outright fakes [some were, but not all] but I see in them a willingness to do their best in serving the Lord, but to a degree became victims of the fame and style of public platform ministry. Jesus taught the danger of our own personalities becoming too central to the people we are ministering to. Some of these brothers fell into this ditch!

(781)JUDGES 13- We begin the story of Samson. While all the judges are called by God, Samson has this prophetic type calling from birth. An angel appears to his mother and foretells of his birth. She is barren and it is one of those Divine pronouncements like the birth of Jesus or John the Baptist. These types of callings have special meaning to them. You can study the callings of contemporary prophets and see many of these same characteristics. Though the critics have found faults with many of these men, yet they have had supernatural occurrences surrounding their births and destinies that cannot be explained away. When these children are growing they are surrounded by the stories of these supernatural events. They often do not realize the special signs that accompanied them. When John the Baptist was asked ‘are you the prophet that was spoken about, the ‘Elijah type prophet’ that appears before the Messiah’? John says no. But later the disciples say to Jesus ‘before the Messiah comes, the Elijah type prophet is to come first’ and Jesus says it was John. I think the Lord will allow certain prophetic people to not realize the impact of their destinies during their lives, they will see some day, but not now. So Samson’s mom has this special angelic visitation and the husband hears about it from his wife. They pray and ask the Lord to come again and give them more instructions about the boy. The Lord sends the angel back and they receive instructions about the boy. His calling is special, he will be dedicated to God from birth to death. The parents are to raise him in a way that will simply facilitate the gift. This is important to see. Often times we see ministry as ‘look what God is doing with Corpus Christi outreach ministries’ [or any other name!]. Or ‘God, please use this ministry for this purpose’ God gifts people with special callings and giftings. ‘Ministry’ is simply the parameters, the borders that help facilitate the gift. We too often confuse Gods sovereign gift with the ‘procedures’. God uses people [individuals and groups] to carry out his purposes, all ministry structures should be seen as simple instructions to properly ‘harness the gift’. Samson’s parents receive the instructions and raise him according to the angel’s directives. The Spirit of God will come on him at set times and he will begin to display the anointing at a young age. We will learn from Samson that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. God will continue to use him thru out his life even though he will stray from the guidelines of his parents. Of course there will come a day where he loses the special ability that God gave him, but his willingness to lay it all down at the end will gain him a place in the great faith hall of fame! [Hebrews 11]

(777) JUDGES 9- Gideon died in the last chapter and his 70 sons were to rule as a plurality of elders. The same picture we see from Moses and the 70 elders. In Judges we see the dynamic of a plurality of leadership, along with the input of strong Apostolic/Prophetic voices. The same idea we saw in the book of Acts. Now Gideon previously refused the role of singular kingship over the people. It took both courage and humility to say ‘I will not be a king over you’. In the struggle to return back to a more biblical example of Christian leadership functioning in the ‘local church’ you need both humility and courage to resist the impulse in man to want a ‘famous leader’ to ‘rule over them’. Now Abimelech, Gideon’s son, was born from one of Gideon’s mistresses from the town of Shechem. Do you remember when we studied this town in the past? It was the town where the son of the prince raped Dinah, the daughter of Jacob. Jacobs’s boys had the towns men circumcise themselves and they went in and slew the city. Well, the boy who raped Dinah was Shechem. The town is named after him. So the history of this city is one of humiliation. Like Germany after WW1, they felt humiliated as a people. The maniac Hitler used a false ethnic nationalism to mobilize the people under him. This is what Abimelech does. He tells the men of Shechem ‘do you want the 70 sons of Gideon to rule over you [plurality] or one king?’ Here you have the temptation of power and authority seen in Abimelech. He does contrary to his father’s rejection of singular headship and thru deception takes a position that was never originally intended [he falls into the trap of singular authority over the people. A trend that the Christian church will also develop over many centuries] so the men of Shechem agree and Abimelech goes and kills the 70 sons of Gideon. But the youngest one escapes. His name is Jotham. He gives this prophetic speech from a hill [God ordained forum] and tells a parable. The parable has these trees asking the olive tree ‘come and reign over us’ and the tree says ‘should I leave my God ordained place and be promoted over other trees’. The same thing happens with the fig tree and the vine. They recognize the futility of leaving their God ordained position and trying to become a ‘ruler of other trees’. Finally the bramble [weed] rules over them. Jotham sees the rule of Abimelech as a twisted distortion of Gods authority. For three years Abimelech rules Israel and a local guy says ‘why should we have him rule over us? I can do a better job’ notice, just because Abimelech is ruling outside of Gods order, does not mean that any ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ can come along and mount a successful over throw! This local stirs up the men of Shechem and turns the city against Abimelech. Another local resents this and sends word secretly to Abimelech ‘Hey, some guy is telling everybody he can do a better job than you. Come and put him in his place’. Sure enough a few days go by and Abimelech descends the hill with his troops. The rebel who is trying to displace Abimelech says ‘what’s that? I see men coming down’ the other local says ‘you must be seeing things’. Finally the rebel says ‘no, I see an army’. The secret confidant of Abimelech says ‘It’s Abimelech. Where’s you big mouth now! You talk a tough talk, let’s see some action’. Sure enough he realizes that this guy set him up. So Abimelech, even though he is operating unlawfully [outside of Gods original purpose] mounts a strong attack. He has resources and ‘supporters’ who took pride in his ruthless rule. Much like the mafia guys who would help their neighborhoods and gain the support of others, even though they were ruthless murderers! Abimelech defeats this challenge to his rule, but chases the enemy into a city and this lady from a tower drops a stone on his head from the tower and kills him. God did avenge the ruthless slaughter of Gideon’s 70 sons [Gods relational/plural plan of ruler ship] but the immature challenge to Abimelechs rule from an inexperienced local was not going to cut it. I see a lot of pictures from this story. The parable of Jotham really has some spiritual meaning to it. The idea of the trees rejecting false promotion has elements of Jesus teaching in it ‘the gentiles exercise authority by being promoted over people, this shall not be so with you’. The power struggles between those who resent all authority! Some simply challenge the present authority structures in Christianity out of an immature spirit [like the local guy in Shechem]. Over all we see the rebellion in Abimelechs rule and taking a position that his father had previously rejected. Just because someone might be in a position of promotion that God doesn’t want, this does not mean that all challenges to this authority are God ordained. As the Body of Christ struggles to get back to a more biblical idea of Christian leadership, getting away from the strong ‘I am your Pastor’ mentality and returning to a respect and honoring of spiritual elders in your midst [the term pastor is fine by the way] we need to recognize both sides of the coin. Don’t simply follow anyone who says ‘why should so and so think he can tell us what to do’. Some of these voices speak out of immaturity and rebellion. But in Gods timing the mature ‘trees’ will be wise enough to say ‘why should I go and be promoted over other trees’. Leaders will learn to blossom and produce fruit while not taking positions of promotion contrary to their nature.

(758) ACTS 21- Paul goes to Tyre and the saints prophesy for him not to go to Jerusalem. He makes it to Caesarea and Phillip has 4 daughters who also prophesy. Agabus shows up, he is a prophet, and he takes Paul’s garment and does one of those weird prophetic actions and wraps it around him and says ‘the Lord says whoever owns this garment will be bound like this at Jerusalem’. A few things, many good men teach that the word for ‘Prophecy’ [to prophesy] is simple preaching. Now, true simple preaching of the gospel is a function of the prophetic. Paul says in Corinthians that whoever says the name of Jesus is speaking mysteries that only the Spirit knows. So preaching does fall into this category. But a simple reading of the text shows you that Agabus, who functioned in the office of a Prophet, was doing more than simple preaching. There obviously was a predictive element to what he did. Agabus is an ‘ascension gift Prophet’. In Ephesians Paul teaches that after Jesus ascended he gave gifts unto men. Some of these gifts are Prophets. Why would Jesus establish an entire class of New Testament Prophets, and take them away as soon as the New Testament was complete? Now Paul makes it to Jerusalem despite the warnings. Right away James and the Elders call him to a meeting. They rejoice over all the Lord is doing with Paul’s gentile outreach, but they tell him ‘look, we have many Jews. They are all believing in Messiah, and they all keep the law’. There is a fundamental rift between James and Paul. Most preachers do not say or admit this, they feel to admit it would violate the Canon of scripture. First, read my commentary on Hebrews 11 on this site. Second, I believe we are simply seeing the historic development of truth as we progress thru Acts. Peter, James and Paul [later we read Johns epistles] never contradict each other as far as the overall message of the Cross is concerned. But God does allow us to peer into the different insights that these key 1st century elders were seeing. So James might really be seeing things from a different vantage point than Paul. Paul might not fully see James reasoning. They are both being used of God, their writings will harmonize. But they don’t necessarily see it yet! James pressures Paul to take a vow with some brothers to basically show he isn’t teaching Jews against the law. Paul does it. The city finds out Paul is in town and they drag him out of the Temple and they beat the guy! The local police come and rescue Paul. As he is being carried away he speaks Greek to the soldiers, they are surprised he speaks Greek. He then addresses the Jews and speaks Hebrew. Paul used positioning and all the influence he had in any area [even language] to make his point. In the next chapter we will read his defense. I want to close with us seeing that Paul was being accused of teaching Jews against Moses and the law and Temple. Was he? Actually as Paul’s understanding of the gospel of grace increases, he does teach this. If you believe Paul wrote Hebrews [the letter] then you see it there. But Paul initially was only preaching grace to the gentiles. James even says ‘show the people that the rumors about you are wrong, show them that you too are keeping the law like all Jews’ and basically Paul gives in by agreeing to join in the vow with the brothers. Some times we read Acts [as well as the bible] as if it were a single book written at one sitting. When you do it like this you don’t leave room for the development and growth of the characters themselves. God is allowing Peter to preach in a more limited way in the first few chapters, after Peter hears from Stephen and Paul he seems to leave more room for believing and being justified. He is learning and growing as the story progresses. The same with James. His epistle is obviously a different view point from Paul. Do they contradict? No. But some commentators do not honestly look at the different angles. James will actually say ‘see how a man is justified by his works, and not faith only’. Now, he does say ‘faith without works is dead’. And many good teachers say ‘all James was saying was you need active faith at the time of conversion’ [James isn’t speaking about the ‘time of conversion’!] Well actually , he was saying more. Was he teaching justification by works? No, at least not in the way most theologians see ‘justification’. But James was seeing justification thru the lens of the future result of the believer actually becoming just! [What some believers call sanctification] He was seeing the Genesis 22 justification of Abraham offering Isaac, not the Genesis 15 account that Paul emphasizes. So James is teaching ‘justification by works’ that is, Gods grace that legally justified you when you believed, actually changes you to the point where you do good works, and at that point God continues to say ‘good job son- you are doing what’s right’ [another word for doing what’s just/right- justification!] Now, I can’t explain the whole thing here, the point is James is dealing with Jewish believers and he is seeing things from a different timeline than Paul. The strife between the early Jewish believers and Paul is intense. Ultimately the Temple will be destroyed and the future of the Christian church will be shaped by Paul’s theology. James writes a great letter! But Paul will carry the day. NOTE- I see James saying ‘see how a man is justified by works’ meaning the future act of God being pleased with the changed life of the believer. We see ‘see how a man is justified by works’ and try to make that fit ‘see how a man is initially saved/born again’ but James, in my view, is not speaking of the initial act of justification [which is solely by faith] when he says ‘see how a man is justified by works, and not by faith only’ James is working on a different timeline!

(751) ACTS 14- Paul and Barnabas continue going thru different cities [Iconium, Lystra] Paul heals a man who was lame from birth and the whole city says ‘these men are gods who have come down in human form’. Paul barely stops them from offering sacrifices to them! In each city they travel to, they have a routine. They go into the synagogue and speak to the gathered. Both Jews and ‘God fearers’ [gentile followers] the pattern of some believing and others resisting becomes routine. Paul also has to deal with the Jews who were following him from past cities. They were sort of 1st century ‘apologists’ who made it their purpose to simply stop Paul. I want you to see that the ‘churches’ were the various groups of people who believed. They did gather together [Ecclesia] but they did not see ‘church’ as a place they went to for religious instruction. They did not start ‘gentile synagogues’ in competition with Judaism. Now Paul goes back thru the cities and at that point ‘ordains Elders in every church’. This is important to see. The ordaining of Elders was the simple process of seeing who had the maturity of understanding in the gospel and could be looked up to as a spiritual guide. Any questions or new converts in the towns would know ‘so and so’ is a responsible believer who Paul put his stamp of approval on. Why even do this? Remember, the enemies of Paul [Jewish law keepers] are going behind Paul’s back and trying to undo all the work that Paul was doing. Elders were gifted men who had the ability to push back against those whose ‘mouths must be stopped’ [Paul’s future language against false teachers]. These Elders were not full time Pastors in the modern sense. They were not singular authorities who ‘cover the flock’. They were not hired clergy! The reason why it is important to see this is because we want to stay as close as possible to the historic picture of the church as we read thru Act’s. These ‘local churches’ were caring communities of Christ followers who did have spiritual oversight that were to be respected and held in high esteem. Paul and Peter will teach the concept of giving honor to those who have spiritual accountability for you. But we can’t apply this to unbiblical forms of ecclesiology/hierarchy that will develop over the centuries. In Luther’s day many well meaning men felt Luther [the 16th century reformer] was rebelling against God ordained authority by going against the Pope. We need to understand that John the Apostle rebuked the rise of singular authorities who would seek to have the preeminence amongst Gods flock [Diotrephes- 3rd Jn]. Paul will warn the Ephesian church [later in Acts] that after his departure men would rise up seeking to make disciples after themselves. The point is any future use of the teaching of Elders/Pastors and the true responsibility to honor and submit to godly authority has to be seen in context with the complete story. While Luther’s [and Paul’s] critics could make the case that they were rebelling against God ordained authority, yet at the same time true revolution always carries an element of casting off old systems and restraint. Paul will confront Peter openly over his hypocrisy between treating Jewish believers different than Gentile believers. Peter was an Apostle before Paul and the argument could have been made ‘who does Paul think he is, going over the head of Peter’. So we need to see the biblical truth of God ordained leadership. The fact that many good Pastors and men of God have faithfully served Christ’s church. But we do not want to develop mindsets contrary to the freedom that we have in Christ while teaching the truth of godly leadership. Paul ordained ‘Elders’ on his way back thru Lystra and Iconium. He sails back to Antioch and recounts all the wonderful success that they had with the gentile believers. Antioch has this free flowing spirit amongst the church. They are gentiles and are not keeping the Jewish law. Paul and Barnabas were getting a reputation amongst the Jewish leadership in the cities and towns. Word gets back to Jerusalem and we will see whether Paul’s gospel will prevail before the ‘church authorities’? I believe we could describe Luther’s response before the Catholic church as fitting Paul’s spirit ‘unless I am persuaded by scripture I can not go against my conscience. Here I stand, I can do nothing else’.

(748) ACTS 11- Peter recounts his vision and experience he had at Cornelius house. The Jews at Jerusalem were upset that he went and ate with non Jews. He explains that the Lord showed him not to view these gentiles as unclean. They were accepted and made clean thru Christ’s blood. The leadership at Jerusalem agree [for now!] We begin to see the tension that will play out thru the rest of the New Testament. This struggle between Jewish law and grace will become the number one issue of contention in Paul’s letters. In this chapter we see Barnabas go down to Antioch and eventually get Paul from Tarsus to help him establish the fledgling church at Antioch. After Peters experience they began preaching to gentiles and Antioch becomes the counterbalance ‘church’ [community of believers] to Jerusalem. I want you to see something important here. The church at Antioch does not have ‘Temple worship’ along side ‘home meetings’. The believers ‘assembled’ as a brotherhood. They met in homes to be sure, but ‘the church’ was simply a description of a called out group of people who continued in grace and lived as a fellowship community. The reason I emphasize this is because we grasp limited ideas of church and then we try and make others fit our ideas. The church at Antioch [and Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, etc.] will continue to maintain this basic identity all thru out the New Testament and well into the second century. The earliest archeological find of a ‘church building’ is found in the 3rd century. There was an inscription discovered that spoke of the ‘church’ meeting here. The ‘here’ was the home of a believer! [I think the find was ‘Europa/duropa’ or something to that effect]. The point here is I want you to see the original design of the church. Up until this point we see the early church evangelizing large regions by simply being led of the Spirit. The finances are simple, this chapter will end with the believers at Antioch pooling their resources to send relief to the church in Judea. It will be the beginnings of Paul’s ministry of relief that we read about in 1st Corinthians 16. This chapter says Prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. Agabus prophesied of a famine to come, the church made arrangements to send relief to their brothers. One of the main Apostles at Jerusalem, James, will oversee a group of poor saints thru out his life. There is no early doctrine seen of rebuking the poor saints and teaching them how they were redeemed from poverty and the curse of Deuteronomy in a way that poverty was see as a sin. James will actually pen his letter and say ‘God chose the poor of this world [not just ‘poor’ in spirit] rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom’ he will also rake the rich over the coals! The whole point is as we read the bible, we need to read it in context and allow the story to shape our views, not the other way around. This Antioch community received New Testament prophets, they did not view the verse in Hebrews ‘God spoke to us in the past by prophets, but in these last days by his Son’ they didn’t see this as meaning there were no more prophets. These believers were not tithing, they did not have a church building, not ordained clergy or ‘high church’ model. They were a vibrant bunch of grace believers who will be told they don’t have to keep the law to be saved! From this point forward, no New Testament church in scripture will lose this basic idea. Some will struggle [Galatians, Corinth] but the basic truth of ‘the church’ being the people of God justified freely by grace, will remain strong. They are still living a communal type of idea, and giving is still radical, done to meet the real needs of people, and is not a tithe!

[These 2 entries simply give scriptural evidence for the ongoing function of Apostles/Prophets today]

(739) ACTS 1- Luke, the writer of this book, feels the need to document the ongoing work of Jesus and his revolution. He already wrote a gospel and believes this to be the beginning of the story. In essence, the reality of Jesus and his resurrection are just the start, we have much more to do and become on this journey. Most writers jump to chapter 2. We have churches and music groups called ‘Acts chapter 2’. Why does Luke seem to wait till chapter 2 before getting to ‘the good stuff’? Chapter one records the 40 days of Jesus showing himself alive after his death. Luke feels this singular truth to be important enough to simply stand alone [I do realize the early letters did not have chapter and verse divisions like today]. The real physical fact of Jesus bodily resurrection is without a doubt the foundational truth of the gospel. The outpouring of the Spirit and the whole future of the church depends on the reality of the resurrected Christ. Paul will write the Corinthians and tell them if the resurrection were not true then they are the most miserable of all people. Luke tells us Jesus gave instructions for the Apostles to wait at Jerusalem for the Spirit. Thy will be witnesses of him to all the surrounding nations after the Spirit empowers them. We also see Peter emerge as the key spokesman for the group. He quotes freely from the Psalms and reads their own history into the book. He sees the prophetic verse from David on ‘let another take his office’ as referring to Judas betrayal and death. They cast lots and choose Matthias as the one to replace Judas. Peter shows the importance of Judas replacement to come from one that was with them thru out the earthly time of Jesus. Someone who saw and witnessed Jesus after the resurrection. Scholars have confused this with the ‘ascension gift Apostles’. Some scholars have taken the truth of the early Apostles having the criteria of being actual witnesses of Jesus, and have said ‘therefore, you have no Apostles today’. Paul will teach in Ephesians that after Jesus ascension on high he gave gifts unto men ‘some Apostles, others Prophets, etc.’ The New Testament clearly speaks of Apostles as an ongoing gift in the church. Barnabas will later be called an Apostles [Acts 14:14] as well as many other references in the original Greek using the same Greek word for Apostle. But here we find Peter seeing the need to replace Judas. Other scholars think Peter might have jumped the gun. They see Paul’s apostleship as the possible person the Lord picked out as the replacement. You do find Paul referring time and again to his Apostolic authority as one ‘born out of due time’ who saw Jesus on the Damascus road. If Paul was simply an ascension gift Apostle, why would he refer time and again to his authority based on being a witness who also saw Jesus? It’s possible that Paul was in this group of ‘Apostles of the Lamb’ who had extra authority based upon their testimony of being eyewitnesses. So in chapter one we see that Jesus appeared for 40 days giving instructions to the early leadership and told them to wait at Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We see the incarnational purpose of God, Jesus was and continues to be the express image of God to man. He was not some ‘phantom’ like the Docetists will claim, but a very real physical resurrected Lord. Luke begins the early history of the church with this reality being important enough to stand on its own.

HEBREWS commentary copyright 2007 John Chiarello http://www.copruschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com P.O. box 181256 C.C. Tx. 78480
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CHAPTER 1:

‘God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds’ Many years ago when I was going to a fundamental Baptist Church, they would interpret this passage in a ‘cessationist’ way. They would say because God says in the past he spoke by prophets, but now by his Son. That this means he doesn’t speak thru Prophets any more. The Prophets here are Old Testament voices. In Ephesians it says after Jesus ascended up on high he gave gifts unto men, some Apostles, some Prophets, etc. The fact that Jesus made Prophets after the ascension teaches us that there were to be a whole new class of New Testament Prophets that were different from the old. I find it strange to believe that Jesus would create a whole new class of gifts, and then take them away as soon as the Bible is complete. Why would Paul give instruction in the New Testament on how Prophets would operate [Corinthians] and then to say ‘as soon as this letter is canonized with the others, all this instruction will be useless’ it just doesn’t seem right.

The reason Paul is saying in the past God used Prophets, but today his Son. Paul is showing that the Jewish Old testament was a real communication from God to man. But in this dispensation of Grace, God is speaking the realities that the Prophets were looking to. Paul is saying ‘thank God for the Old Jewish books and law, they point to something, his name is Jesus’! The Prophets [Old Testament] served a purpose; they brought us from the shadows to the present time [1st century] now lets move on into the reality. Now you must see and hear the Son in these last days. ‘Who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person…when he by himself purged our sins SAT DOWN on the right hand of the majesty on high’ here we are at the beginning stages of themes that we will see later in the letter. The significance of Jesus ‘sitting down’ will be contrasted with the Old testament priests ‘standing up’. Paul [for the record I think Paul wrote this letter, from here on I will probably just refer to the writer as Paul] will teach that the ‘standing up’ of the Levitical Priests represented an ‘incomplete priesthood’ the reason Jesus sat down was because there would be no more sacrifice, and no more priesthood made up of many priests who would die year after year. This doesn’t mean there would be no more New Testament priests as believers, but that there would be no more Old Testament system. Paul will find spiritual truths like this all thru out the Old Testament.

Some theologians feel that Paul is a little too loose with these free comparisons that he seems to ‘pull out of the hat’, for the believer who holds to the canon of scripture, it is the Word of God. ‘Being made so much better than the angels…but unto the Son he saith “thy throne O God is forever and ever, a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy Kingdom”. Here Paul introduces another theme that will be seen thru out this letter. The superiority of Jesus over angels. Why is this important? Most believers know that Jesus is greater than angels, don’t they? Here we see why context is important to understand this letter. In Jewish tradition it is believed that the law was given to Moses by God thru the mediation of angels. Some say ‘well, we don’t use Jewish tradition, we use scripture’. First, Paul used anything he could to win the argument. Second, if we believe Hebrews is an inspired book, then when we read later on that the law given thru angels received a recompense if broken, then right here you have scripture [Hebrews] testifying that God did use angels to ‘transmit’ the law to some degree. Now, why is it important for gentiles to see this? Well it really isn’t! But it is vital for a first century Jew to see it. If Paul can show that Jesus is greater than the angels, then he is beginning to make the argument that the New Covenant is greater than the Old.

Here is the context. Moses law is highly revered in the first century Jewish community, so here Paul says ‘how much better is the law/word given to us from Gods Son’. Since Jesus is much better than the angels, therefore pay closer attention to the words spoken thru Gods Son, he is greater than the angels! ‘But to which of the angels said he “sit at my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool” we end chapter one with the theme of Jesus being better than the angels, yet in chapter 2 something funny happens, Paul will make the argument of Jesus being “a little lower than the angels” lets see what this means.

(723) GENESIS 37- Chapter 36 has a lot of genealogies, so let’s skip it. In this chapter we see Joseph having the dreams that his brothers and father and mother will bow down to him. He makes the mistake of telling everyone about it! Rueben is already mad about the favoritism shown towards Rachel’s sons as opposed to him being the firstborn. The other brothers clearly see the favoritism too. Jacob made Joseph the coat of many colors. To me this represents the multi ethnic diversity of Christ’s church [body]. Skins represent ‘covering’ or flesh. All the animals sacrificed in the Old Covenant were a type of Christ. The tabernacle represented a living mobile dwelling place of God, the church. They used skins as a covering. So this coat of many colors is like the body of Christ. Joseph typifying Jesus as the favored son who will eventually bring together all tribes and nations into unity as Jesus ‘wears them like a robe’ [truly we are his dwelling place, covering of flesh if you will!] Jacob sends Joseph to ‘see how his brothers are doing and bring back the report’. Just like the parable Jesus gave about the king sending the servant to check up on the vineyard. Eventually the king says ‘I will send my son’. Jesus says they take the son and kill him. Joseph’s brothers see Joseph coming and say ‘here comes Mr. big shot, the dreamer’. Understand Josephs dreams were simply the destiny of God on his life. It is important to differentiate between ‘what I want out of life’ and Gods purpose. Joseph’s dreams did speak of exaltation and fame. But these were things he did not seek! Jesus gives instruction in the New Testament to actively pursue the lowest place. The teachings on taking the seat in the back of the room and not the front. The teaching against gentile ideas [Roman] of authority. So we must not read into Joseph’s story that God wants us to ‘be all we can be. Become great’. Greatness in Gods kingdom is backwards. You seek not to be exalted and exaltation comes! Now the brothers take him and throw him into a pit [grave] ‘without water in it’. A type of death. Water and spirit are interchangeable words. A pit without water is like the grave [body] without the spirit. James says this is what death is, separation of body and spirit. Now something is happening at this point. The brothers are falling into the trap of group think. Just going along with something because others are doing it. Rueben begins seeing this deception. He also despises Joseph, but begins realizing things are getting out of hand. He says ‘lets not kill the boy, just throw him in the pit’. Judah also speaks up on his brother’s behalf. So they take Josephs coat, put blood all over it. They sell Joseph into slavery and they bring the coat to Jacob. ‘Dad, we found Josephs coat with blood on it. I wonder what happened to him?’ Now, how many options do we have? Maybe the boy got into a scrap trying to save some sheep and that’s what happened, or maybe he hurt himself and used the coat as a tourniquet? Yeah, that’s possible! But Jacob is a pessimist ‘surely some wild animals got to him’ bad enough! But wait ‘and they tore him to pieces, devoured him and he’s gone’ Yikes! Then he says ‘I will be depressed about this for the rest of my life and go to the grave never getting over it!’ Boy, who would have thought the guy was gonna take it like this? We once again see the over reaction of Jacob. It’s so easy for leaders with destiny and purpose to think all is lost. Moses and others have thought the same. Elijah was ready for the Lord to take his life because some Jezebel was giving him a hard time! I want to encourage leadership, don’t make rash or major decisions when your emotions are out of whack. We have a tendency to take reproof or correction the wrong way. We want to quit and start all over. Find someone else to ‘take over the church’ so we can get out of dodge. Jacob thought the worst, but what was actually happening was Gods pre ordained plan that would actually be for his salvation down the road. Jesus is still thought to be dead by Jacobs descendants, they only see the ‘pit without water in it’. They don’t realize that Jesus [Joseph] is actually alive and waiting for them to come and bow the knee!

(685) I was listening to a famous [and good!] radio preacher. Been around for years and is good. Of course I am mentioning him to disagree with a mindset that is prevalent in Christianity. He was teaching on abiding in Christ from Johns gospel. He said ‘are you feeling bored with attending church week after week, year after year? Does it seem unfulfilling to go to a ‘church’ and sit and listen to the Pastor? You know why you feel this way? It’s because you ARE NOT ABIDNG IN HIM!’ Ouch! God didn’t create you to be fulfilled by ‘going to a church meeting and sitting and listening for 50 years!’ The reason you are not fulfilled doing this, is because you weren’t designed to be fulfilled by DOING THIS! This is the whole reason for the present revolution going on in the church over the practices and function of ‘local church’. Now, when I hear a good man says this. I realize he means well and is still functioning under the old paradigm. But after reading all the stuff on this site it becomes obvious that the problem isn’t ‘abiding in Christ’ [at least in the way he spoke of it] but the problem is you were designed to function and daily experience and live out ‘church’ [ecclesia- corporate expressions of Christ’s functioning society of people- community!] Present church leadership teaches a type of ‘loyalty/membership’ to a ‘local church’ that is contrary to scripture. The idea that leaders were designed to ‘be over/ cover’ believers for their entire lives is unbiblical. When God made man, he explicitly told him ‘when you grow up [could this be the problem! We are not ‘growing up’?] You are to LEAVE YOUR Father/Mother relationship and cleave to your wife. In essence you are to establish new relationships with ‘your wife’ [the ecclesia- Christ’s ‘wife’] you are to relate on a co equal plain with the broader body of Christ and to not remain ‘cleaving to your former parents’. A lot of the abuses in the shepherding/apostolic covering movement made this mistake. They taught a type of ‘apostolic covering’ that said the problem in present Christianity is most believers are out of order. Out of order to these guys means ‘go find some man to cover you’! Double OUCH! So for the most part the reason you are bored by attending church for 50 years is because you were supposed to ‘leave you former parental structure’ [I am your Pastor mentality] and establish new relationships with the broader body of Christ. In this new relationship you too will eventually have kids, just remember that there will come a time where they too will ‘leave their father and Mother and cleave to their wife’. This my friend is the reason you are ‘bored with church’. Because what you call ‘church’ is simply a lecture hall. What the bible calls ‘church’ is a living organic manifestation of the Spirit of God functioning in a community of people! [That might have been a little harsh!]

(427) It is common in the modern world of ‘church’ to have a scenario where certain people [deacon boards and stuff like this] rise up and come against ‘the Pastor’. You then have a dynamic where the ‘Pastor’ is in a struggle for ‘control over his church’. Then the fight rages on. All of this is absent from the New Testament. Paul fought against the false teachers who were trying to influence the ‘churches’ [communities of people] with false doctrine, but this power struggle over the ‘control of my church’ [501c3 Christian business who meets on Sunday] did not exist. Recently I have heard/seen a few scenarios along these lines. There actually are scenarios where those who are fighting the Pastor are like what you would find in an abusive relationship. A type of manipulation that says ‘if you don’t say stuff that makes me mad, I will behave’. Then the Pastor feels like ‘I stood up against the opposition and God was with me’. Even though the whole ‘atmosphere’ of stuff like this is unscriptural. This type of stuff is what you see in the world of corporate takeover. The rising up of stockholders and stuff who are ‘dethroning’ the CEO’s who are making millions while the stock is falling. I just want you to see that when we view and function in limited paradigms; this affects the way we carry on with the journey. Jesus taught a type of ‘prophetic preaching’ that said ‘if people don’t receive the gift, go to the next house/city’ I am not saying all Pastors should leave their churches when strife arises. I am saying that the whole scenario is really not of God. Even the part where the well meaning Pastor ‘fights for the control of the church’ [Christian business]. Being the true New Testament Churches were communities of people, as opposed to ‘501 c 3’s’ you never had these types of situations. NOTE: I really don’t blame the Pastors for functioning out of this limited mindset. We send guys to College and they are taught all types of stuff under the guise of ‘Pastoral’ administration. We basically teach them that this means running and administrating a business. We teach a form of ‘deacon board’ and all other types of stuff that are simply bible names given to 501c3 corporations and their boards [Roberts’s rules of order!] The New Testament shows all these ‘gifts’ [Pastor, Deacon, etc.] as gifts that function in a community environment. The modern Pastor is taught in a way that he simply replaces the idea of ‘board of directors’ with ‘Deacon board’. If you try to show these brothers that they are simply putting bible names on an American corporation, they will tell you ‘well brother, the bible speaks of deacons’. True, but the bible speaks of Bishops and Pastor and we think that justifies us putting our own definitions to them. God has placed gifted individuals in the ‘church’ [community of believers]. These gifts are primarily given to build up people. If in this process you need a building, or a ‘501c3’ or a ‘radio/blog ministry’ that’s fine! But your gift is not primarily given to administrate the tool [the whole business and stuff that arises out of modern ideas of church] but the gift is primarily given to facilitate growth in the community of people. Because we don’t really see and function this way, we inadvertently accuse the saints. We say ‘if you don’t put the tithe in on Sunday, you are cursed because you are not submitting to the Local church. Which after all is Gods plan to change the world’. Well it is Gods purpose to function thru the ‘Local Church’ but once again this simply means ‘all the believers residing locally’. It does not mean the whole 501c3 organization that functions in the building on Sunday. You see how easy it is to read the verses on ‘bring all the tithes into the storehouse’ and then to mistake the ‘storehouse’ for the 501 c 3 that owns the ‘church building’. The storehouse are the corporate people. Jesus said ‘my house shall be called a house of prayer’. We are his house! We are a ‘corporate house of Prayer’. Well I have taught all this stuff before, just felt like you needed a reminder. NOTE: I have heard over the year’s well meaning Pastors say things like ‘I don’t believe in Bible college, that’s the job of the ‘Local Church’ or others who might denigrate a ministry because ‘it is not under a local church covering’. The mistake these brothers are making is once again ‘seeing’ the ‘local church’ as the building and all the operations surrounding it. What do they mean when they say ‘it’s the job of the local church’? They seem to be implying that the actual instruction should take place ‘on the grounds of the 501c3 organization’ or in the actual building where the Christians meet on Sunday, after all ‘it is the Local church!’ UGGH! They don’t seem to realize that if the college or other ministry that they are talking about is something that was a God ordained thing, and that ‘thing’ is being administrated or ‘run’ by ‘local believers’ then it is part of ‘the local church’ [community]. But when you ‘see’ local church as the 501c3 building/organization that Christians meet in on Sunday, then you inadvertently ‘accuse’ the brethren by saying ‘you are not under the local church’. God does not vest authority/legitimacy in a ‘501c3’ corp. He vests authority in his people by his Spirit. When you do not see this you accuse the ‘local church’ [the local believers] by thinking that ‘the local church’ is something that its not! Let me also add that I have had friends over the years who ran ‘Para church’ organizations [a misnomer!] some of these brothers have jumped thru all sorts of hoops to gain legitimacy with the ‘local churches’ [organizations] when these brothers see that I am ‘functioning’ as a believer with Gods authority, they do get offended. Sort of like ‘I have jumped thru these hoops for years. Tithing to my ‘church’ and all sorts of things to be in proper order. How dare you come along and challenge the legitimacy of ‘the local church’. The point is God wants all of his kids to function freely under his headship/authority. It’s OK if your ‘Para church’ ministry is working along side a ‘local church organization’ but to then try to make everyone fit into this limited paradigm is out of order. If Jesus taught us anything on authority, he taught that servants gain authority in Gods Kingdom. If you want authority my friends, then serve! Don’t think it comes from being ‘under the covering’ of some man made organization. NOTE: If the Kingdom is not about ‘being over people’ as Jesus taught, then why even ‘have authority’? Those who are being used in the Kingdom to build up the Body of Christ realize that there is no greater joy than to actually ‘wash the feet of Jesus [serving him]’ by building up the Body of Christ [the Local church/community of people]. You build so far and then you need more ‘skills’ to complete the ‘building’. At that stage ‘more authority’ is given for this purpose. The ‘minister’ is rejoicing because God has given him more adequate tools to complete the mission. Further ability to serve! Paul told the believers that God gave him this authority to build them up, not to ‘rule over them’. In today’s environment of success and trying to feel legitimate, people unconsciously fight for this recognition [authority] thinking it will bring them some sort of fulfillment. In the more extreme cases this can lead to ‘authoritarianism’. An ongoing battle between the ‘congregation’ and the ‘Pastor’ for control. So here you see how the limited paradigm affects everything else. In the New Testament churches you did not have scenarios where ‘Pastors’ were trying to be over the people for long periods of time. The shepherding process [discipling] was done over a short time until the new believers were mature enough to be ‘launched out on their own’ [under Christ’s headship]. When you have unnatural environments where men are fighting for control or authority simply for the purpose of ‘having authority’ then this causes an abusive situation for the people of God. Not all Pastors do this, but the unnatural environment lends to this happening more often than it should. The giving of ‘more authority’ is primarily for the continued function of servant hood, to continue to build the people up. It is a violation of biblical authority to see your position as one of singular authority over the people of God [see Diotrephes mentioned in the 3rd letter of John].

(430) Let’s review a few things. In Isaiah it says ‘my thoughts are not your thoughts. My ways are not your ways’. A lot of the stuff I have been showing you on ‘Local Church’ is simply a process of changing our thoughts [ways of seeing things] to Gods thoughts. As you see this stuff you begin to see that ‘knowing scripture’ is different than just memorizing verses, or being familiar with the text. It means having a general understanding of the whole flow of what God means. As you simply ‘see’ Gods thoughts on ‘Local church’ it allows for there to be a ‘grid’ that puts everything else in context. When Jesus debated the Pharisees, they had this ‘obsessive’ ability to memorize scripture. They actually had a ‘profession’ that copied the Old Testament to the tee [scribes]. These ‘brothers’ were obsessed with the technicality of the Word! Yet Jesus would rebuke them for not truly grasping the meaning of the ‘text’. Sort of like not being able to see the forest because of the trees. This ultimately led them to crucifying their Messiah. They couldn’t ‘see the Body of Christ’. So today when we don’t ‘see’ Christ’s Body properly [thru the Church] we also do harm to it. Let God replace your thoughts for his. NOTE: I don’t mean to be picky here. But when we don’t ‘discern’ the ‘Body of Christ’ [the church] we do unconsciously accuse her. Paul writes ‘I have shown you these things so you would know how to behave in the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth’. We read ‘how to behave in the church building on Sunday’ [our thoughts] when what it is really saying is ‘how to behave in the family of God’. We say things to believers who are ‘functioning locally’ ‘you need to be under a covering, you need to be in submission to ‘a local church’. We often are using a ‘form’ of local church that isn’t to be found in scripture when we say this. In essence we are doing ‘damage to the Body of Christ’ when we do not properly discern her.

(499) The benefit of blogging like this is it allows you to hear God and just write what you hear. When writing a book you really cant jump like that. For some strange reason I just saw a whole scenario of legitimacy that comes from being a child of God and how that relates to family/community. We often see believers as a ‘part of the church’. God does deal with us as a community, as well as individuals. You will find the strong Orthodox/ Catholic brothers emphasize the community aspect of Christianity. You will also see the more individualistic style of Christianity emphasize the ‘individualistic’ aspect. ‘Me and Jesus’ both of these are true. What I want you to see right now is how we often try to ‘de legitimize’ Christians by saying ‘who’s local church are you under? What family do you belong to, you cant function/operate outside of the family. You derive your authority from the family’. Now look at this for a moment. When you are born, you are born into some type of family. It might not be fully functional, but there at least had to have been a mom and a dad at the beginning. Now as you develop you are part of a family. You are part of this family by virtue of your birth. You actually do not derive your life from the family. God created you. But family is vital to your growth and health. As you grow older you learn to depend less and less on the authority figures that God has placed over you. Some times the parents want the children to stay ‘under their authority’ for insecure reasons. The empty nest syndrome. But if the family is healthy the children will eventually launch out. There may be times where the waters get rough and they return for a season, but ultimately they launch. If you were to tell little Johnny ‘who do you think you are leaving us? Don’t you realize that you really don’t have a life apart from us? You were born here, we raised you, everything God has done thru you up until this moment has been in the family context. You leaving us is rebelling against our parenthood over you. Don’t forget what happens when you rebel against us. O well you’ll find out the hard way’ Johnny’s parents are sincerely seeing his role as it relates to them, they don’t fully see or function in the reality that their roles are meant to change over the course of Johnnies life. They sincerely think his step of independence is rebellion. After all they have been ‘over’ Johnnie his whole life. Who does he think he is anyway? Sure enough Johnnie will launch out [to the dismay of his other siblings who tried to launch before and had failures. They later returned back home and thought their failures were a sign from God that they should have never launched] When Johnnie does eventually succeed there is an initial reaction of ‘who needs families anyway, they were just holding me back’ this is a natural result from the way the family tried to hold him past the ‘launch date’. As Johnnie matures he will lose this harshness that he is experiencing at this time. Ultimately Johnnie and a whole new generation of ‘Johnnies’ will grow and leave and become all that God originally intended. The insecure parents will warn all the older children who are still relating to them in co dependant ways ‘don’t do like all these rebels, you know what can happen’ and this reinforces the mindset of never fully growing up. And yet the parents will at times say ‘when are you ever going to grow up?’ not realizing that they have had a big part in creating this unhealthy long-term environment. I feel today we are seeing this play out on a large scale in the Body of Christ. There are so many ‘Johnnies’ who have been told ‘your identity to our family is Gods purpose [true] therefore you really have no authority on your own’ [false]. The authority for both family and Johnnie launching are both from God. They all receive their right to do what God is telling them because they were all born of God. It is easy to only view legitimacy from the standpoint of ‘family’. Not seeing that God originally told the man ‘When you launch out on your own someday [a God given thing] then you will leave your parents and cleave to your wife’ [the wife can be the Ecclesia/oikos that God wants you to relate to as an ‘elder’ as well. While all believers are not ‘5-fold’ ministers, they all are to grow and mature. Becoming an ‘elder’ more mature one who gives oversight to others, is a natural function of your growth] God always intended the oversight role of parents [Pastors/Elders] to be temporary. This launching will eventually create a whole new family, with a whole new home of Johnnies. And the process repeats. I find a lot of believers at the ‘launching dock’ who are fearful to launch. They have seen some launch, and sad to say they drowned. A natural risk inherent in all journeys. These have made ‘shipwreck of the faith’. Others launched and never returned for reunions because they were so mad at the original parents calling them ‘lost children’ when they first left. Ultimately when enough Johnnies do it right then the whole family will see and realize that they were at an immature stage and are now seeing this ‘launching’ as in Gods original plan. Have you launched yet? NOTE: Often times the ‘parents’ [Pastors/elders] find their identity in ‘being parents’ they feel good functioning in this oversight role. They preach, organize, strategize and do many good things. Sometimes out of insecurity they add to their preaching, themes that warn the children ‘don’t ever leave us, it would be a big mistake’ and if they see someone leave, they will often say ‘well, now that you left, who is your new father [Pastor] and which family did you join in order to pay your dues?’ [Tithe]. The former Pastor is trying to say to Johnnie ‘well, you left this nest, you cannot function outside of it’ unless you yourself become one of us [a Pastor] then you have the right to not be under one of us. ‘This is Gods order’. The whole thing can be a big mess. Truly God does have order in his family, but we need to be careful that we are not superimposing a modern way of church, and then calling that ‘Gods Order’. NOTE: It is common amongst ‘apostolic people’[people who feel they hold the office of Apostle] to struggle with ‘who’s local church will I be under’. They often start a 501c3 ministry, relate to other ‘local churches’ and preach a very strong ‘You must be under a Pastor’ type message. They then will struggle with ‘which Local church will be my covering, as I also ‘cover’ many other Local churches/Pastors’ all of this language and covering and everything associated with it is really not seen in the New Testament function of Apostles. Apostles were not people going around ‘covering’ all ready established groups of Christians. The true fruit of an Apostle is someone who has the gift to ‘birth’ communities of believers thru the preaching of the gospel. You never find Paul, ever, telling the new believers to be ‘under the covering of a Pastor’ you do find admonitions to submit to Godly leadership that God has placed in ‘your church’ meaning ‘your community of believers that are around you’. You actually will find references in the New Testament to the ‘Elders of your Church/ Elders of your city’ [i.e.; ordain Elders in every city as I ordained you] so the submission to Elders was the simple ‘growing up stage’ in your life as a believer, until you are mature enough to ‘launch’.

{this is a paragraph from entry 584} A lot of good came out from this time. Some of the converts wound up back in their ‘daddy’s religion’. That is after they ‘got saved’ they became true students of the bible and church history and began ‘rebelling’ against their ‘rebellion’. They saw that many of the historic churches had great roots and were not totally worthless. Some went back to the older churches. Jack Sparks had a ministry called ‘World Liberation Front’ and espoused many of the ideas of the strong authoritarian ‘Apostolic’ ministries. These were the ‘shepherding’ movements that were very influential in ‘covering’ young Christians. Bob Mumford and others were leading the Discipling Movement. Sparks got into the strong apostolic stuff and would write ‘we are going to get noticed, those in the churches that do not recognize us, we will take your people’ pretty authoritarian don’t you think? Well Sparks also got into the ‘cult exposing’ movement, which also was birthed at this time, and he eventually became a Greek Orthodox Priest and as far as I know is still one today [Sparks eventually would become one of the critics of the ‘Local Church Movement’ of Watchman Nee, being led by ‘Witness Lee’ in California. The ‘Local Church’ would eventually take the cult exposing ministries to court over this] so you had some interesting fellows at this time.

(25) As I was just outside praying I felt the Lord leading me to share this. I was at the point of intercession where I pray for all of the people that we have ever worked with or sown seed into by either word or deed. I refer to these as the ‘Ecclesia and her children’. This covers those of you who are reading this right now! What I wanted most of all to get across is that when I pray like this I am not praying only for the success of ‘our ministry’ [I really don’t like using this term at all] but the overall success of all of the Kingdom works that Father has predestined for all of you. This actually positions me to regularly pray for the benefit of everyone who hears us or receives from us in any way. This includes the leaders/pastors who might hear us and even dislike our strong stance on what the Church is. I am praying for their overall success and Gods purpose to prevail in their lives. I am not doing this out of some feeling of ‘I am more noble than them’. But out of the reality of realizing that all who listen or receive from us are the ‘field’ that God has called us to. Seeing things this way, as opposed to your prayer time being about the success of ‘your ministry’ places you spiritually in a great posture. You actually desire the benefit of people who might not fully understand you, or even those who actively work against you. These themes are actually contained in Jesus instruction on prayer. I would encourage you to begin seeing ‘your ministry’ less and less, and focusing on the overall benefit of the people you relate to over your life. You are not here to build some type of Christian business. You are here to build the Body of Christ! Let me also add here that because of the way we see ‘church/ministry’ and the way we confuse it with the 501c3 model, that this hinders prophetic people. I have heard it said ‘you need a local church covering’ in order to be in biblical order. What most people ‘see’ when they say ‘local church covering’ is a modern Christian business. I am not totally opposed to ‘modern Christian businesses’ [I attend a fantastic local church] as long as we are not using them to ‘de-legitimize’ other functioning members of Christ’s Body. I wrote a prophet in San Antonio who I heard years earlier. He advertised his ‘church’ in the S.A. paper. He did split off from another ‘apostolic’ brother thru a disagreement. He started his own ‘church’ in order to feel and be accepted as legitimate. This comes with the whole package of ‘receiving tithes’ and everything else we see as ‘so-called’ legitimate church. I simply felt the ‘prophetic word’ for this prophet was that he was limiting himself by trying to moderate meetings and become a ‘weekly lecturer’ to Christians while this was hindering his true prophetic ability that simply functions freely in society. I don’t see any prophets in the book of Acts setting up lecture hall environments in order to receive tithes and ‘feel legitimate’. Well he never wrote me back, but not to long after I noticed he stopped advertising in the paper. I feel we need to re-think the whole issue of what makes up church and ministry and re-focus on our responsibility to build up each other in love. ‘Change the way you think and act, because Gods kingdom is here now. Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this, you are the equipment. No special appeals for funds, keep it simple’. [Message bible]

(32) The other day I was watching fox news [another confession- I am a political junkie] and our current U.N. ambassador resigned his post. This guy reminds me of a prophetic/pastor friend I met years ago in C.C. The U.N. ambassadors name is ‘John Bolt’on. [John Bolton]. The reason he resigned is because when Bush first appointed him he did it as a recess appointment [that’s when you appoint a position while congress is out of session]. Bush appointed him this way because he had a lot of opposition from the opposing party to his nomination. To be fair the guy was doing the job for about a year at the time of his resignation and many of his critics changed their mind about him. But because of petty politics [which both sides practice!] the recent midterm elections gave a majority to the Democrats in the house and Senate and the writing was on the wall. The new incoming senior Democrat stated his opposition to the ambassador and he knew his time was up. The name ‘John Bolt’on is significant, I have said a lot in this paper about these images [John the Baptist as ‘thunder out of the desert. a ‘bolt’ of lightning accompanies thunder]. The fact that he initially was rejected before he even had a chance of ‘proving himself’ speaks to the churches position at large during the ‘restoration’ of the gifts of apostles/prophets. Many didn’t care if people had the ‘ability’ to function or not. They simply did not want these ‘ambassadors’ of the Kingdom to function! After a few years now of these ministries operating and representing the Fathers Kingdom you think it would be time for the church at large to recognize and receive them, but this hasn’t necessarily been the case. While these gifts are being accepted and received to a greater degree than before, they are still not being received in a complete way by the church at large. Jesus said if we receive a prophet ‘in the name’ of a prophet we receive a prophets reward. There is a sense of certain giftings being refused, despite the fact that they have actually functioned well in the office! The ‘majority’ will not entrust to them the legitimacy of their office because of petty things. Jesus also told his gifted ones to shake the dust off of their feet if not well received. John Bolton simply resigned and would not let Bush give him another ‘side title’ that would allow him to still be around without the full legitimacy of his office. I feel there are good and bad things that have happened in the prophetic/apostolic movements. One of the mistakes was seeing a rise in ‘apostolic covering’ type ministries. It was not uncommon to find well meaning ‘apostles’ going around convincing well meaning ‘pastors’ to come under their covering. You can go to some of these web-sites and see all the ‘churches’ that some of these brothers have under their ‘covering’. In many of these scenarios you find too many man made ideas and people/ministries struggling for ways to fit into some misguided idea of ‘covering’. To be simple about this, Jesus is our covering and all of us [apostles, prophets, evangelists, and yes even plain old Christians] should work in unity to build each other up in love. This trying to get people under my covering thing is missing the mark in my opinion. Paul’s apostolic ministry freed people from authoritarian leaders [judiazers] and released believers into the great reality of our universal priesthood that we all equally share under Christ. We derive our legitimacy from the fact that we are the actual house of God. God literally dwells inside the people of God by his Spirit. This causes all of us to be properly related to God and one another on an equal plain. This was one of the great truths of the reformation ‘the priesthood of all believers’. No believer needs to find a ‘spiritual father’ or ‘apostolic covering’ to be in proper order. Paul told the Corinthians that he was their ‘spiritual father’. This simply meant that he ‘birthed’ them into the Kingdom by the gospel. To go around trying to make people submit to your authority is contrary to what Paul was doing here. He actually told the Corinthians that they were allowing other quasi leaders to become their authority and he was invoking his original relationship with them in order to bring them back into the liberty of Christ.

(58) Being I have been speaking a little about Catholic/Protestant stuff lately, let me talk on ‘authority and covering’ issues. Recently when certain evangelical leaders fell into sin, others speculated on why this happened. Some Protestants taught that certain Prophets who ‘fell’ were not ‘under covering’ or under the authority of ‘a local church’. I have spoken at length in our books and thru radio on what the Church is and what it means to ‘be part of the local church’. All I felt like saying here is our Catholic brothers historically view ‘all’ Protestants as being ‘without covering’ or not under proper biblical authority. I do find it interesting that some who feel they are ‘apostolic’ in the protestant church start highly independent and entrepreneurial type ministries and then preach that if people are not ‘under one of these apostolic coverings’ then they are in rebellion. Many of these ‘apostles’ have absolutely no ‘covering or connection’ to the historic church and yet preach a form of authority that seems to begin and end with them! To put it simple, we as Christians are all related and responsible to each other. As New Covenant priests we are directly under the authority of our high priest Jesus. I thank God for all the gifted Apostles and Prophets in the church today, I just think we need to remind ourselves of the basics once again.

(259) Now that I’m getting into it, let me discuss the role of Apostles and Prophets and how they fit into the Church. During the restoration of Apostles/Prophets in the last quarter of the 20th century there were a lot of mistakes made in the area of ‘function’. It was common for Apostles to see the list of ‘5 fold’ that Paul gives ‘first Apostles, then Prophets, etc’ and to read it in an authoritarian way. Apostles would try to form ‘relationship’ with various Pastors and teach a submission that was not biblical. It kind of went like ‘I am now the Apostle who ‘covers’ your Pastor, Your Pastor covers you and the people are under all these levels of ‘covering’ and the view to God was getting ‘cloudy’. Paul wrote the list of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists Pastors and teachers. Paul did say ‘first Apostles, secondarily Prophets’ some feel this is simply stating the order in which they appeared. First God brought in Apostles, Then Prophets [New Testament ones!] etc. This view has truth to it. But even if you took it the other way, Paul later says God has counted the Apostles last. He tells the Corinthians this. Well how can they be first and last! Surely Jesus never taught any thing like this? Here we go again. Lets just say in general all Gods gifted 5 fold ministers exist to bring you to maturity as Gods people. Any view that has all these authority structures is really not the intent. Some of these brothers don’t even realize the ‘Pastors’ who they think they are covering are not even a biblical position in the way they function today. So Apostles and Prophets and all these gifts do exist [at least in my mind!] but they exist to release you into your full inheritance in Christ [Not talking money here!] As these gifts are restored and recognized, lets keep in mind that Jesus taught the first would be last and the last first!

(112) Just got home from doing some food shopping. On the way back I parked by the bay for a little while. Took a break and read the paper while listening to the radio. I heard a preacher defend the idea of ‘the Pastor’ as the person who ‘runs’ the church. I got upset! He went on to speak about the multimillion dollar ‘church’ that their building in San Antonio, he spoke on the biblical principal of leadership, someone having to make a decision. For example: God makes decisions in the Godhead [Trinity] and things of this nature. Then he spoke on the practical reality of one man needing to ‘make the call’ for the ‘church’ on vital financial decisions and the like. I understood his defense, but it is dead wrong! He basically was making the fundamental mistake of viewing ‘the multimillion dollar building and operation’ as ‘the church’. The Church in the New Testament are all the communities of believers in the various cities and regions where they dwell. The simple fact is there was NEVER a ‘Pastor’ who made the decisions for the whole community. This brother from San Antonio simply was defending the need for one person to make the call in a business environment, but he mistakenly called this ‘the church’. The fact is there was never a single New Testament Church [community of people] who were dependant on ‘a person’ to call the shots! Just cause someone’s on the radio doesn’t always mean that they know what there talking about! [Note; for those of you who think I should have approached him personally before correcting him, I already sent this brother all our books a few years ago, he should have known better by now!] The ‘one man’ who would run the Church in the above scenarios given is JESUS CHRIST! [Next day] Well I cooled down a little bit from yesterday [just a little!]. Let me give you some ‘regional’ history. Back in the late 80’s there were ‘apostles/prophets’ who taught strong ‘apostolic authority’ in the San Antonio area. Many of these brothers are still going strong for God, some I am not sure about. These brothers had a strong influence on the above ‘mega church’. The Pastor of the mega church tried to incorporate ‘plural leadership’ in his ‘church’. They had some difficulties. They were missing the whole point of plural leadership [elders] as being ‘guides and facilitators’ of the community as opposed to leaders who ‘run the church’. The basic mistake was they were ‘seeing’ church as the ‘Christian business’ who meets on Sunday. In this limited perspective it is virtually impossible to incorporate ‘plural leadership’. It’s like ‘who preaches this Sunday’? Or ‘who decides on the color of paint for the church’? Silly stuff like that. I refer to these brothers as being ‘building centric’ as opposed to ‘Christ centric’. Well the Pastor of this San Antonio mega church finally abandoned the whole ‘plural leadership’ mindset in order to simply ‘fulfill my vision’. Which was to have a huge building with lots of people coming to hear him speak. Also during the formative period of all these guys struggling with these issues, a ‘former pastor’ who is now one of the key leaders in the ‘house church movement’ visited San Antonio and spoke on the church as the people, as opposed to ‘the building’. He dealt with plural leadership and the role Apostles play in today’s church. Well eventually the mega church pastor opted out of the idea to do ‘plural leadership’. He needed [or did] embrace a model of ‘one man’ who is highly motivated to get this big building, and no one is going to stop me! The problem with ‘doing church’ this way is that people become assets to another goal. People are ‘expendable’ in these scenarios. The ‘thing’ of importance becomes ‘the building’ as opposed to the harder more long-term goal of ‘the people’. I believe that during the transition stage of this church, the Pastor opted for the easier road of ‘going for the big building’ as opposed to the more difficult road of helping to facilitate a move in the church where ‘plural leaders’ lead people down a road of independence versus being ‘church attendees’. Leaders often choose ‘their vision’ over the overall benefit of the people. God wants leaders to make decisions based on the future of his purpose. Not on ‘what do we want in our lifetime’. Many times Gods higher purpose entails not seeing what you want, for the sake of what he wants! [A few weeks later] I just had a dream [Its 1:22 am as I write this!] about the above San Antonio church. This isn’t the first time I dreamt about this church either. In the dream I was visiting the church, they were very gracious to me. I introduced myself as a visitor who directs ‘Corpus Christi Outreach Ministries’ [I hate relating to ministry people this way, but sometimes I find you have to do this or leaders simply wont give you the time of day!] Well the Pastor, who is a good man, kind of said ‘O this is the Pastor of C.C.O.M.’ and I kind of had to uncomfortably explain ‘well not really the Pastor’. By the way this happens so much in Christian circles, we have a tendency to evaluate people along these lines. ‘What do you do, I am a fire fighter, I do this’ we judge people based on what society believes to be important. Well the dream was all right, the Pastor was nice and well intentioned. I actually plan on visiting this church in the near future. I just felt the San Antonio connection to be important recently. I feel we are going to make some good contacts in this city. Our radio broadcast covers that entire region [as well as Houston and some other major radio markets]. Those of you up there give me an e-mail and lets get in touch.

(174) A few years ago we had an Apostle visit our area. He is fairly well known in ‘prophetic’ circles and does have a worldwide ministry. I do like him and his teaching. He was going to hold some meetings in Texas and I called his office to get directions. A few days later he called back at an inopportune time. If I am busy I will not answer my phone unless I recognize the number. I thought I would answer it this day anyway. Sure enough it was this national minister personally calling me. He didn’t know me at all! I think the Lord told him to call. I spoke only a few minutes and shared a prophetic word. I quoted ‘FOR THY SAKE WE ARE KILLED ALL THE DAY LONG’ he simply said ‘O MY’. I never got in touch with him again. I did send them our books and I feel we might be a little to ‘strong’ for this brother. Many ‘Apostles/Prophets’ are really affected by the prosperity gospel and modern concepts of ‘spiritual warfare’ and I think our teachings in these areas turned them off. I do feel the Lord allowed me to speak this word to him as a precursor to sending our books. It’s like God confirmed ‘the word with signs following [or should I say ‘preceding!’]

(178) I read an article from Christianity today the other day. It was on Prophets and their role in the Church! It was an excellent article; it kind of surprised me that it was in Christianity today. Out of all the Christian magazines in circulation this is the best. I don’t say this only because of this article. I have subscribed to Charisma and Christianity today and a few others for many years. I don’t subscribe to any write now, but I read from some on line. I canceled the Charisma magazine many years before Christianity today. I felt that Charisma was making an honest effort, but the only valuable stuff seemed to be coming from Lee Grady. He only wrote a brief editorial. The bulk of the magazine was messages by popular preachers, and a lot of them on ‘you can have what you say’ and stuff like that. I actually said to myself one day ‘how many messages does it take on ‘you can achieve some goal, or get what you want’ before they move on to the ‘university level’. Well I feel Christianity today is at the ‘university level’. In the past the majority of preachers/teachers that taught on Apostles and Prophets were the charismatic brothers. I do credit Brother Hagin for re introducing this teaching to the church. I am really excited that more of the mainline Christians seem to be more open to these gifts. It’s hard for believers to distinguish between the reality that some things can be good from a preacher, while other things can be bad. I have seen so many brothers leave the Baptist faith and become Charismatic [OK] but then they view their Baptist heritage in a negative way. They seem to think the future of the church is Charismatic. The future of the church is CHRIST! All charismatics and Baptists and Catholics and every one else who names the name of Christ plays a role in this thing. The message of the church is the Cross of Christ. We are to carry the ‘evangelical’ gospel as the primary voice of the church. If you used to be some denomination and are now another, that’s fine, but don’t think that now the message is ‘the Spirit’ or ‘the anything else’. The message stays the same. Now I believe we should teach and embrace the working of the Holy Spirit, it’s just some brothers have actually said stuff like ‘when I was Baptist I focused on the Cross, when I became charismatic I now focus on the resurrection and the Spirit’ one brother even said the Cross was only for a few hours, leaving the impression that those ‘few hours’ are now over and we move on to other things. This brother is an Apostle out of San Antonio who is a true elder in the church. He has done many good things and I have received from him in many ways. He made this statement at a conference in Corpus Christi and I felt I needed to correct it on radio. I did! Paul told the Corinthians that when he was with them he knew nothing ‘but Christ crucified’. This message doesn’t mean we don’t ‘move on in growth’ it simply means the growth God is looking for is the Body to grow ‘into him’. God’s goal is for us to be mature ‘in him’. Growing is not a matter of moving away from him [or the cross!] Paul told the Galatians ‘MY LITTLE CHILDREN WHOM I TRAVAIL IN BIRTH AGAIN UNTIL CHRIST BE FORMED IN YOU’ Ephesians says we are to grow up into the full stature of Christ and allow his headship over us to fully function as we develop more into being the Body of Christ. All these images show us that the goal of Christian growth is not moving to some other belief, but moving more ‘into him’.

(190) A few entries back I mentioned an article from Christianity today. Part of the article spoke on the clergy’s dependence on the offerings from the people being a hindrance to the prophetic ministry. The article even spoke on the modern phenomena of Pastors/Elders being bi-vocational. That is the trend of certain leaders choosing to work a regular job and not be supported by the church. I know what the New Testament teaches on meeting the needs of those who supply spiritual food. Paul, who said this, also said that he chose to not use this right with the Corinthians. He even said by not using it he was preaching the gospel free of charge, and that was a commendable thing. So obviously there are various ways to approach this. The thing we did not see in the New Testament churches was ‘hired clergy’. This is blatantly obvious. Sure it makes us feel uncomfortable to admit this, especially if you are one of them! But the point is we need to recognize that many modern scenarios of Pastors feeling pressured to speak on topics in order to keep the salary money coming in was absent in the first century church. Much of what we do is out of peer pressure and self-survival. I want to challenge you, try doing it for free! Paul said you can, he also said those who got paid didn’t have the same joy of knowing that they were truly doing it from the heart. It’s OK to receive support, but it’s not OK to see yourself as a ‘hired hand’ who is employed by a congregation to provide services [weddings, funerals, etc.]

(191) CHANGE YOUR MINDSET Over the years as I have learned new things and ways to function in Gods kingdom, I would always think along terms of ‘how do we make this happen, who are the group[s] of people that we are to release the gifts in’ I also have read many other ministry ideas and concepts. Often what we are trying to do is produce some biblical ministry in a limited paradigm. For example, when people began learning about the 5-fold ministry [Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers] they tried to ‘make it happen in their church’ the reason it didn’t ‘happen in their church’ is because their paradigm of ‘church’ was limited. They saw ‘church’ as the meeting of believers in the ‘church building’ on Sunday. Though the belief on the 5 fold was correct, it was the limited understanding of ‘church’ that hindered what God wanted to do. I felt like the Lord was saying to many of us ‘why are you always trying to re-produce that which I show you in some building, my gifts are to function freely in society/community and you are always trying to make it happen in some building environment’. So in essence the changing of the wineskin from seeing ‘church’ as the Sunday meeting to seeing ‘church’ as the functioning community of people was the missing ingredient. Many ‘Apostles’ and ‘Prophets’ were struggling on how to get their gift to work in ‘the church’ and they were missing the great excitement of bringing the gospel to the lost world. How did the Apostle Paul’s gift operate? Do you see him going around to ‘New Testament churches’ trying to set up ‘5 day meetings’? He primarily is going into the world preaching the gospel to the lost, and these ‘become’ the churches [communities of people] that he later builds as an Apostle. We need to ‘re-focus’ our mindset from ‘building’ to people. Get your mind off of ‘trying to build your ministry’ and realize that all of our days are limited. Sell out for the cause, go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature! Quit trying to ‘find your place in the church!’

(199) Let me try to be nice. Over the tears of seeing a lot of the abuse in the church I recognized that a lot of it existed because good men [prophetic people and others] refused to deal with the issue. Then you had ‘heresy hunters’ deal with it in a way that totally turned off the church. The prophetic people out of defense against the ‘heresy hunters’ would reject any possibility that the ‘money focus’ in the church was getting off track. So on one side you had the old time ‘defenders of the faith’ warring against the ‘prosperity movement’ and the prophets fell on the side of defending the ‘prosperity movement’. Well this whole thing is a mess. The simple fact that it is common to see a Christian preacher, wearing expensive jewelry, telling people that Jesus and the disciples lived extravagant lifestyles. Talking about dreams and visions of Jesus appearing to them and telling them ‘you can have all the money you want’. Guys having dreams/visions of biblical characters telling them things that contradict scripture, and then the prophets in the church actually lining up on the side of this movement is a tremendous hindrance to the prophetic. We shouldn’t be attack dogs, I agree! But at some point Gods prophets must be willing to address these issues. The fact that the prophets have not dealt with it [for the most part] has opened the door for the ‘heresy hunters’ to paint all of us with the same brush. I appeal to you guys [prophets] take a look at what we are doing. Are we letting the true image of Jesus fall to the ground out of fear and being defensive? How can we not see that many of the fathers of this movement [prosperity] have fallen into the category of 1st Timothy 6. Paul said there would be a time when teachers would teach that financial gain is godliness, from such turn away. I too enjoyed the faith brothers for a while. It’s just there came a time where I had to admit that the stuff coming from their camp could not be accepted anymore. I know and believe that the Father wants us to prosper and has a great future for us. But this is different from seeing Jesus the way these brothers present him. This issue must come to the forefront in the prophetic movement or else God will not allow our voices to continue in today’s church. NOTE: Let me also say that scripture tells us to ‘reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine’ Jeremiah speaks of ‘casting up, removing the stones [hindrances], tearing down and building up’. We are supposed to focus on Jesus for sure. There are times where we also bring correction in love. If leaders don’t do this, then many young believers go down a long road of finding these things out on their own. Eventually they will see the shallowness of this movement, but they could have saved a lot of time if their Pastors dealt with it in the beginning. NOTE: In the book of Acts you see Paul receiving prophecies on ‘how much you will suffer for my cause’. You find the apostles praising God that they were counted worthy to suffer beatings and persecution for the name of Christ. You see the prophetic centered around the sacrificial lifestyle that the Gospel calls us to. In today’s prophetic circles it is all to common to hear prophecies on becoming debt free, receiving financial windfalls, money will fall into your hands this year and stuff like this. Sure it’s possible that God is saying a few of these things, but the modern prophetic movement almost has no voice for the prophecies you see given in scripture. The prophetic must come into re-alignment with scripture if she wants her voice to be relevant today.

(201) Just had a bunch of thoughts run thru my head. In the Old Testament the cities were surrounded by walls for protection. On these walls were ‘lookouts’ who would stand guard day and night to ‘see’ things coming. These ‘seers’ were the first to recognize danger, or even an ally coming to help. They would ‘see’ it long before anyone else. This did not make them better than the rest of the community; it simply was their job [gift]. Some seers were higher on the wall than others. You had some actually posted on the wall, while others were in ‘stands’ built off of the wall. This group of lookouts were really seeing far. It was a matter of faith for the community to prepare themselves for what the seers were seeing. Ezekiel speaks of ‘watchman on the wall’ and he says if the watchman see a threat and don’t sound the alarm, then they will be responsible for the results. If they sound the alarm and no one listens, they are not held responsible, but the ones who don’t take action will still suffer. Recently I have been able to ‘speak into’ certain prophetic groups. Many of these brothers do have real gifts, it’s just I feel that a lot of them are not ‘sounding’ the warnings along with the ‘good stuff’. To a degree they also are ‘victims’ of the materialistic mindset that has imbedded itself within the current evangelical church. Many of these prophets immediately reject any talk of correction and re alignment with the central message of the Gospel. They seem to be inundated with the concept of the ‘wealth of the wicked coming to the church’ [which is a true scripture!] to the point of not being able to ‘see’ [which is the prophets main objective!] the writing on the wall. I find it interesting that many of these prophets are on the Elijah list [a prophetic website]. I really like the Elijah list, just not enough balance. Elijah was a prophet in the midst of ‘prophets’. As a singular voice [or so he thought!] he was not in the ‘majority opinion’ of his day. This didn’t mean he was wrong, only that the rest of Gods people weren’t ‘seeing’ as far as he was. I feel there needs to be a re alignment with the current prophetic movement. Too much of it is in alignment with the materialistic gospel. How can God use the ‘watchman’ if they for the most part refuse to ever sound the alarm? Many will not sound it out of self-preservation. Like I have told you before, if ministries are trying to build a support base, there will be a natural tendency to reject any correction along these lines. Unknowingly many prophets simply say ‘I don’t see that’ in the area of all that I have been saying, because without realizing it they are being influenced by a natural desire to ‘bring in the wealth for the end time harvest’. They too have become infected with mammon. I believe the church has a glorious future. I do not hold to an end time fatalistic eschatology, but the future of the church and Gods Kingdom being expressed in the earth is vitally connected to a spiritual people who are not controlled by the materialistic mindset of the day. The prophets must make a break from these things. There is no way the Lord will permit the prophetic to have a greater impact until she learns to distinguish between that which is pure and that which is unclean I remember hearing Paul Cain speak on the 3 dangers to the prophetic ‘GOLD, GIRLS AND GLORY’. He saw the aspect of money as a danger to the movement. The kings of the Old Testament would enlist ‘Eunuchs’ to watch over their bride[s] when they were not around. The Eunuch was ‘unable’ to take advantage of the bride for his own procreation. He could be ‘trusted’ because there was nothing ‘in him’ that could lead to the procreation of his own mind and agenda [thru his seed/offspring]. Many prophets have not passed this test because they are still seeing ‘their future’. This leads them to prophesy abundant wealth year after year to the groups they are speaking into. It is an unconscious ‘self procreation’ [of their dreams and future] that are causing them to do this. I pray the Lord would help all of us [including me!] to put the concerns of the bride before ours!

(202) TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING I have been wanting to use this illustration for a long time. The time is here! I was just taking a bath. When I reached for the shampoo I had a familiar occurrence. I found myself surrounded by many bottles of conditioner, and one bottle of shampoo. There have been many times where I have had 6-8 bottles of conditioner and NO shampoo. I do have 4 daughters and 1 wife. This should explain it. There are times where you can have too much of a good thing. Many times we get inundated as Christians with the message of wealth and happiness to the point where there is no room for the shampoo. The conditioner feels good, it serves a purpose, but sometimes we just need to get clean! There are a lot of great principles of motivation and success in Gods Word. The book of Proverbs has to be the greatest business book ever written. The point is all these things come with the underlying theme of the gospel being the foundation. Simple truths of living for eternal rewards versus temporary stuff. Stories like Jesus talking about the rich man building greater barns, and that night he died. Jesus saying WHAT SHALL IT PROFIT A MAN IF HE GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD AND LOSE HIS SOUL. We HAVE LOST SIGHT OF THESE THINGS WHILE reaching for the conditioner! We want to feel good, which is all right, but we really need some shampoo every once in a while!

(208) I was just thinking about the book of James, I haven’t read it in a few years [?] but sometimes the Lord just brings things to your remembrance. James says that GOD IS THE FATHER OF LIGHTS, EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT COMES DOWN FROM HIM, HE IS NOT PARTIAL BUT TREATS ALL HIS KIDS EQUALLY This is all in context with the fact that James is one of the lead Apostles in the Jerusalem church. [Not the Pastor!] James had spiritual oversight to a large group of POOR believers. These were the same Christians that Paul was taking up the offering for in the Corinthian church. James actually defends these poor believers all thru out the book of James. Yet he makes these statements of God loving all his kids equally. He says God gives good gifts to his children. He also says many of Gods kids are POOR [hath not God counted the poor of this world rich in faith]. These statements in no way contradict the theme of James. James fully understands that the love of God for these Jerusalem saints is not to be measured by THINGS. The New Testament Apostles had a clear understanding of this. They got this understanding directly from Jesus ministry. There is an underlying theme in the New Testament that THINGS are not the way we form Gods opinion of us. You and I measure Gods love and acceptance for us based on the fact that God LOVED THE WORLD SO MUCH THAT HE GAVE US HIS ONLY SON! Paul does say if God gave his son for us, will he not give us freely all things? The implied answer is YES [Romans]. But then Paul ALSO TEACHES HE LEARNED TO BE CONTENT WITH BOTH ABUNDANCE AND LACK. This contentment came from the fact that God already proved his love for us by the work of the cross. There is no other thing that could show you your acceptance with God than this simple fact. So James can confidently say ALL GOOD GIFTS COME DOWN FROM THE FATHER OF LIGHTS, IN WHOM THERE IS NO VARIABLENESS OR SHADOW OF TURNING knowing full well that many of his ‘parishioners’ were dead broke! The father of lights gave us his SON; there could be no question of his acceptance of us based on this reality!

(209) Just had a dream a little while ago. I was strapped into this parachute harness and was going to ‘catapult’ up into the sky for a free fall. I did it once and it felt great [in the dream!] I was going to go for a second time and I knew I wasn’t strapped in right. Instead of ‘re strapping’ I was just going to ‘go for it’. I finally decided to abort. I gave someone else the chance. Over the years I have had various friends and people tell me ‘jokingly/seriously’ ‘you are going to get yourself killed’. I remember a friend at work [officer] said this to me. I said ‘we all have to die’ he told me ‘ but it doesn’t have to happen so soon!’ I had a friend I met at the homeless hangout, I felt a little ‘uncomfortable’ about him. He was new to the area, had a pretty good knowledge of the bible, and would ‘share’ things with me that were prophetic. I have had a few occasions in my life where I wondered if I was encountering angels [or someone else!]. He would often tell me that some of us [me!] were trying too hard to do it all and we needed to not be such ‘workaholics’. It was fairly easy for me to dismiss this criticism, even though I knew in my heart he was right. I simply justified myself [wrongfully] by realizing that this criticism was coming from someone with a less than spotless employment history! But I have had others tell me this [preach it] and basically say the same thing. I know to some degree this is a flaw. It actually is a weakness that comes from pride and insecurity. ‘Hey look at me, I am relentless, cant you tell?’ While up this morning I heard the Lord say ‘A LIVING DOG IS BETTER THAN A DEAD LION’ [somewhere in the bible?] Recently the imagery of a ‘lion’ as well as the name ‘Judah’ has been popping up again. I felt the Lord saying our ‘prophetic voice’ was going much further and stronger than before. I WILL BEND JUDAH LIKE A BOW the bow ‘imagery’ has been in my mind recently, this verse says ‘JUDAH’ is the bow! I felt like the Lord was saying he is giving some of us strong prophetic mantles to accomplish great strides in the Kingdom, with this authority comes a fearlessness that can be deadly. We must embrace the ‘fearlessness’ but not work ourselves to death. Judah is a great warrior, Jesus is the LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH but if we die unnecessarily we wont accomplish all that God has for us. A LIVING DOG IS BETTER THAN A DEAD LION [even one from the tribe of Judah!] NOTE: Just re reading it for errors and felt like the ‘going up in the parachute’ fit in pretty well with John in the book of Revelation ‘COME UP HERE, AND I WILL SHOW YOU THINGS TO COME’

(210) Something that has made me uncomfortable for some time is the dynamic of speaking a strong prophetic word/teaching and then realizing the aftermath. For instance the ‘judiazers’ of the first century were teaching a form of Christianity that embraced legalism. They were doing well for a season until God allowed Paul to ‘blast it’ out of the water. Once the Apostolic authority of Paul exposed the heresy, it was difficult for the Judiazers to continue. They sure tried, but Gods authority was now working against their doctrine. I recognize that there are certain truths that we teach that are contrary to the normal tradition of ‘church’. I do not teach them simply for this reason, in as much as I feel it’s time for certain things to be dealt with [like the judiazers]. After these things are dealt with, many good Pastors will continue to embrace what they have known and are familiar with. This creates a tension in the community. Many of their ‘parishioners’ will embrace the truths they have learned from us and Gods authority always falls on the side of truth. Many of the authority structures that are presently functioning in the church are not really biblical. When you have believers moving in grace in certain areas, and church authorities coming down on the wrong [incorrect] view of the subject, you then have a dynamic where Gods authority is falling on the side of the ‘parishioners’ and not on the side of the clergy. This dynamic was also seen in Jesus ministry with the disciples. It was unthinkable for the 1st century clergy to admit that Gods authority was being expressed thru this rag tag team of unlearned men, as opposed to their theological doctorates! I feel uncomfortable when this happens with us. I used to Pastor, and I do not like people who come to a community just to start trouble and cause division. But sometimes we mistake a true prophetic challenge to the status quoi, as being rebellion [Martin Luther and the Catholic Church of the 16rh century!]

(211) Just got back from an ‘incident command’ lecture. We do these every so often at the Fire Dept. It got me to thinking in terms of organizational structure and command. I think it would help to review some things I have taught over the years. First, the reason I don’t believe the New Testament teaches ‘the end time transfer of wealth’ the way many people are teaching today is because any ‘windfall’ infusion of wealth INTO THE PRESENT SYSTEM would not fundamentally change the way things are. If you poured billions of dollars into the present ‘wineskin’ it would not enable, or release into function the ‘Body of Christ’. For the most part any increase of funds would just perpetuate the current system. God wants a CHANGE in the current system. God wants to ‘release’ the army of people who are sitting in the pews on Sunday. Our current mindset has the army sitting in the barracks once a week, and thinking that this is their main function! Second, the present stage of the Church takes the few instances of Paul [and others] speaking in public forums [in Acts] and tries to duplicate this model, seeming to think that the primary way the church functions in society is by ‘sitting in church on Sunday and listening to sermons’. This is NOT the New Testament model of the first century church. The best ‘view’ of ‘church’ in the New Testament is seen in Corinthians [I did not say they were the best church, it was BECAUSE of their flaws that we are able to read about the way the church should meet!] In the Corinthian model ‘church’ is an interactive experience where Christians come together and share the love of Christ. It is plain to see that the current understanding of church today is not as interactive or ‘corporate’ as the New Testament had. So Jesus model of ‘tasking’ voluntary disciples to GO INTO ALL THE WORLD AND PREACH THE GOSPEL is now relegated to the ‘clergy’ at the expense of the church and the lost world. This limited mindset hurts all the way around. God will take the ‘small’ seeds of influence from the ‘volunteer’ model and cause the seed to exponentially increase. CAST YOUR SEED/BREAD UPON THE WATER, FOR IN MANY DAYS IT WILL COME BACK TO YOU I just watched the movie ‘pay it forward’ and it gives a good concept of one person inspiring others to ‘pass it on’. This basic principle of all believers living in such a way as to inspire others to voluntarily give their lives away is the Jesus model. All the ‘transference of the worlds money’ will not fundamentally change the limited paradigm in which we function today! NOTE; I was having a discussion with some one along these lines. They innocently said ‘but you have to have somewhere to put all the people [church building]’ It is interesting to see that this concern never came up in the New Testament churches. They all knew that they needed to ‘sleep somewhere’ and ‘eat somewhere’ and ‘meet somewhere’ [houses!] but today’s mindset of ‘I have 1000 people as ‘church members’ where will I put them all?’ This concern is absent in The New Testament. The simple fact that the spreading of the gospel in the first 3 centuries was more of a revolutionary movement in the hearts and minds of people explains this reality. They weren’t looking for ‘places to put people’ they were revolutionizing society!

(213) One of my good friends who was part of the original group of brothers called me up at work last night. He asked if I could help him with some money [around $60.00] I told him no problem. I will be getting with him in a few hours when I get off of work. It’s around 4 am, this is one of those days where I woke up at 12:30 am and couldn’t sleep! I was thinking about the reality of this friend [and others] who see themselves ‘connected’ to us in ministry. Even though we don’t have ‘connections’ in the way you would be a ‘member of a church’. If you think about it, I have probably given away thousands of dollars over the years to friends. Feeding guys, doing charity and just helping with bills. I do not see this as ‘paying staff’ but these brothers are faithful communicators of the vision the Lord has given us. No matter how many churches or Pastors they have encountered in the journey, they see themselves as loyal to ‘us’. I find this interesting as to the fact that we really don’t care if people are loyal to us! Our attitude has been ‘if you got blessed thru us in the past, then go bless others’ this mindset that exists in today’s form of ‘local church’ is a type of dysfunctional insecurity. Many good Pastors try to develop criteria to ensure the loyalty of people. We read the book of Acts and try to come up with ‘rules for the church’ that would cause people to be ‘faithful to the vision of this house’. Many times the leaders are well meaning, but this type of trying to teach ‘commitment’ is really not a function in the New Testament churches. They were ‘loyal’ to the gospel and to Jesus. They were to ‘obey’ those over them in the Lord as it pertained to these basic truths. You don’t find Paul setting up ‘systems’ of loyalty that you see today. When you truly reach people for Christ and give your self away, they will be loyal like a son to a father. There will be no need to ‘check up’ on whether they have been faithful to the church and stuff like that.

(214) Let me throw some practical functional stuff in here. Over the years of studying and reading books on the cell/house church movement and Apostolic movements I see the way we are all growing in our understanding as God changes the ‘wineskin’. It was common to transition from ‘seeing’ the church building as ‘the church’ to seeing the ‘house/home group’ as the church. Some brothers simply replaced one structure with another. The true New Testament paradigm was ‘seeing’ the community of people as ‘the church’. Now, I do believe it is more practical to utilize the homes of believers as primary meeting places. If you’re a ‘volunteer’ army of people, you are not trying to raise money for the building and stuff. So practically you use the resources of the ‘soldiers’ being recruited. It’s just that the ‘soldiers’ themselves are the functioning unit that the commander is living in! I know these are not new concepts; it’s just that I feel the people we relate to need to keep this in mind. I do encourage all of our blog readers/radio listeners to sponsor a home group as God directs. Just keep in mind that this is only one aspect of ‘church’ expression. The ‘home group meeting’ is not the church, you are!

(223) Let me use the above example to show you a few things. As I was talking to this ministry leader we did have a fairly good fellowship. During this day of fellowship I shared many of the thoughts on the church as community versus ‘a church building’. He seemed a ‘little’ familiar with this. He said ‘O I know people who believe that way’. Which showed me the Lord has tried to show him this before! He had difficulty grasping many of the concepts, though they were true! It was later on where he got offended and actually yelled at me. He basically said to me ‘your wrong!’ I nicely told him, well I understand you think I am wrong, but I believe I am right. [I know it’s hard to believe I was calm during this exchange, but I was]. It shows how his later frustration of not being able to raise money for ‘the ministry center’ and things of this nature were an outgrowth of seeing ministry as ‘this thing I need to raise money for so I can run it’. If this person learned the lesson of not seeing it in this limited way, he would not have been so frustrated. It’s like the answer wasn’t ‘a transference of wealth’ in as much as a ‘change of thought’. He needed to see the new ‘wineskin/paradigm’ that God is trying to bring forth. These truths are being seen and practiced on a worldwide basis as I write this! Wolfgang Simpson says ‘God is not trying to start lecture halls across the world’ This seems to be the current understanding of ‘planting churches’. We seem to think ‘setting up buildings where people come and listen to bible words being spoken’ is the local church! We really need to be delivered from this mindset!

(242) Let me share something, a few months back I took a ride to one of the fishing piers where I live. Brought the paper, tuned in to the radio. I was able to pick up a San Antonio church that I like [Eagles Nest/ Rick Godwin]. Some of the things from the message kind of stirred me up [got me a little angry]. I shared this earlier on this blog. A few weeks later some of the things I wrote about it on the blog became widely available to the entire city of San Antonio on a huge scale. At the time of writing the entry I had no desire or inclination of reaching so many people with the blog, it just happened. It was like the ‘prophetic Spirit’ rises up at set times to speak into the church, if you are faithful to a few [small area] God will then launch you to a lot [large area]. At the time of me responding to what I heard from San Antonio, I wasn’t mad at Rick. I was angry at the limited perspective of church that he was embracing in the sermon. Nothing personal, just God wants change. Don’t look for a national voice; be faithful in the small things. If God desires he will promote you, don’t do it yourself!

(243) Now a little overview. The idea of ‘church’ as the place where we ‘put all the believers’. I mentioned how in the New Testament, no matter how many people were coming to the Lord, the Apostles never thought along these lines. ‘O my God, all Galatia is turning to Christ, where will we put them all?’ NOWHERE! I am thinking of the verse ‘THE SEED IS YET IN THE BARN’ Gods people are the seed. We are always trying to build bigger barns to ‘put them in’. We need to understand it is not the responsibility of leadership to ‘find places to put all the people’ it is the responsibility of leadership to FIND A PLACE TO ‘PUT GOD’ [that is to win people to Christ and these people become the HABITATION OF GOD]

(256) BRINGING MANY SONS UNTO GLORY The intent of the ministry of Jesus is to bring many sons to a place of interdependence and maturity. The language Jesus uses in the gospel of John is striking. He tells the disciples ‘I don’t call you servants, but friends, brothers’ ‘you have come to me, but now you can go directly to the Father yourself and ask him’. The present development of the role of Pastor has been understood to not be the ideal in Christian community. It is becoming common knowledge among a broad base of believers that the role of Pastor, as the singular voice of the congregation who is looked at as the hired minister, is not found in the New Testament. Does this mean we are all in rebellion? No. Does this mean that all churches must now close and start from scratch? No. But it does mean that as fellow believers we begin to maturely address these issues of form and function as God directs. The fact that the word ‘Pastor’ is found one time in the New Testament [Ephesians] but yet other words are found a lot [Apostle, Elder, Brethren, etc.] shows us that somewhere along the line we introduced a role that wasn’t the original intent of God. We have a tendency to take biblical words and attach our own definitions to them [Bishop, Pastor, etc.] As we see the progression of language in the New Testament itself, we begin to grasp the heart of God. John’s letters are some of the latest written in the New Testament. In John’s epistles you find the language of children and brothers more than elders and Leaders. This showing that as the early church matured she moved away from authoritarian titles, and moved closer to family terms. In Gods desire to ‘bring many sons unto glory’ there is a necessity of top-heavy leadership models to come down. Jesus washing the disciple’s feet and images like this. Blatantly telling the disciples that in the world leadership is based on being in charge, but in the church it is based on not being in charge. Being a servant who grasps the admonition of John the Baptist HE MUST INCREASE AND I MUST DECREASE. As the church progresses down this path the natural result will be for the ‘many sons to come to maturity’. I am sure it felt strange for Jesus to tell the disciples ‘you came to me before, but now you go to the Father yourself’. This is a true act of biblical leadership. People in the beginning depend on leaders a lot; it is incumbent on Godly leadership to let them come directly to the Father.

(272) I forgot to mention that during the restoration of the walls and the Temple, Nehemiah was a type of an Apostle. He had great organizational wisdom The Prophets Haggai and Zechariah prophesied strength into the hands of the builders. This is a great picture of all the 5-fold working together to build the ‘City of God’. The book of Acts says ‘the heavens must hold Jesus until the times of the restoration of all things spoken by the Prophets’. The job of Prophets is to speak the word of the Lord. There were many ‘prophets’ who prophesied ‘out of their own imaginations’ scripture says some were ‘making up dreams’ I basically have showed you guys some ‘made up dreams’ and prophecies that were along these lines. God will allow many who have done this to repent and get on with the program. Gods restorative potential is so glorious that he will even take a false prophet and use him again [Jim Bakker].

(281) Lets jump out of character a little. During a discussion I had with a ministry leader in our City, I shared the function of the church at Corinth and showed him how during their gatherings they all shared and functioned. I showed him this to explain that I felt the Lord is changing the practice of church from an environment of people who come and listen to a Pastor preach, to an environment of all Gods people sharing together. This doesn’t mean there will never be an instructional time where a Pastor or Apostle or another gifted person can share or preach a sermon, but it shows that the original intent of God for the church was one of interactive involvement of all it’s members. My ministry friend disagreed and said that Paul was just dealing with the ‘home group’ here, and the ‘regular church’ was another thing/place. The mistake my friend made was ‘seeing’ scripture thru the paradigm of church as we practice it today. He sincerely took scripture that addressed the ‘church at Corinth’ [all the believers at Corinth] and read his own mindset into it. The scriptures in Corinthians that deal with how the believers were meeting IS THE CHURCH AT CORINTH. There was not ‘the home groups’ and ‘the main sanctuary meetings’ now if your church has this distinction, fine! The point I was making to my friend was Paul was addressing THE CHURCH when he gave them instructions on how to meet practically. When believers meet anywhere and share the love of Christ and mutually build each other up, that is church in its most simple form. To read Corinthians and ‘see’ another sanctuary service ‘down the road’ is a good example of how we read scripture thru the ‘lens’ of our own understanding. Let me also say it’s a common mistake among modern cell church movements to read the meetings of the Church at Jerusalem at the Temple [actually they ‘held’ services in Solomon’s Porch, which was an outside courtyard!] and to read into this that the early Christians had ‘sanctuary’ services and ‘home meetings’. This isn’t so. The only Christians that had ‘temple’ services were those at Jerusalem. All the gentile churches [Ephesians, Corinth, etc.] met in homes. This is a fact that doesn’t change. Does this mean all gentiles must only meet in homes? No. I am just showing you there was no pattern of ‘temple’ and ‘home’ groups. Also some advocates of radical reform see Paul’s warning to the Ephesian elders in the book of acts as a warning against the modern clergy system. Paul told the Ephesus church that AFTER MY DEPARTURE, WOLVES WILL RISE UP FROM AMONG YOU [from the believers] and will draw away disciples after themselves. Some see the rise of the ‘singular Pastor’ as a fulfillment of this scripture [I don’t necessarily hold to this view, but I do see some credence to this speaking of the strong personality worship that exists in the church today] Others also use 3rd John and the example of Diotrophes as one who ‘loved to have the preeminence’ and would not receive the brothers. Some see in these examples a strong warning from the early Apostles to avoid strong singular authorities who are looked to as the authority of a local church. I do believe there is some truth to these insights. My goal today is to simply challenge your present understanding of ‘going to church on Sunday’ to seeing yourself as the actual ‘temple of God’ that moves and interacts in the world around them. God brought his presence out of a Temple made with hands and put it in his people, we must not lose sight of this great reality! NOTE: In the book of revelation it says the ‘City of God’ is ‘as a bride adorned for her husband’. We also know that the New Testament calls us ‘the New Jerusalem, the Zion of God’ basically John is writing prophetic imagery in Revelation. It also says ‘there was no temple in it, God himself and the Lamb are the temple’ [we dwell in God] but it also says the Lamb is the light of the City. The only logical way to fit all these images without contradicting is to see the City/Temple being the Church of the living God. As the ‘body of Christ’ we are a real extension of ‘the Lamb’ so the Lamb can be the City, the Temple or the Light of the Temple. Jesus is the light of the Church, he illuminates us by the Spirit. It’s important to grasp this major change of thought from the earthly Jewish Temple, to the heavenly spiritual one. If you don’t rightly see this you will not interpret scripture properly! [By the way I do believe in a literal heaven!] NOTE: A common mistake amongst Apostolic ministries is thinking that it is a biblical mandate to have ‘a spiritual Father’ [and Mother]. I was reading from an apostles site and it gave some testimonies from Pastors Who said the reason they now have a spiritual Father and Mother [speaking of the Apostle and his wife] was because the bible teaches we have natural ones, therefore we should have spiritual ones. The ‘spiritual’ father is God and the mother is the ‘church’ according to Paul. He says ‘THE NEW JERUSALEM IS THE MOTHER OF US ALL’. Paul does tell the Corinthians that he is their spiritual father. But he is basically saying ‘I birthed you guys into the Kingdom; you are the fruit of my Apostolic ministry. Listen to me for correction, not all these others who are trying to bring you under their authority’. Paul was not advocating for people to go out and find Apostles and make them and their wives their ‘spiritual father and mother’.

(286) When God wants to do a reform/revolution he does it at many levels at the same time. The difficult thing for the reformer[s] is you get those ‘being challenged’ all mad at you at one time! It does take ‘guts’ to be a pioneer. One time when Jesus was rebuking one group, the other group said ‘don’t you know you are offending us too’ [Pharisees and Lawyers] Jesus said he didn’t care. Let them get offended. Every plant that the Father didn’t plant will be uprooted. It’s funny because we have a lot of Apostles/Prophets upset with us. Though we all believe and function in these gifts together. Then we have the whole crowd of old time churches who simply think we are heretics because we believe in Apostles! It can be funny at times [or if you don’t have boldness you could describe it like the Governor of California says ‘girly men’ it wont be ‘funny’ you will be scared! I would attempt to spell Arnolds name but I don’t have time to spell it right!] So lets do a little ‘reforming’. Recently those who are feeling challenged in the whole area of ‘going to church’ have resorted to the classic verses to defend ‘going to church’ FORSAKE NOT THE GATHERING OF OURSELVES TOGETHER AS SOME. HE THAT SEPARATES HIMSELF SEEKS HIS OWN DESIRE lets put some context. Those in the radical ‘out of the church building on Sunday’ movement for the most part practice the ‘assembling of themselves together’ in a more scriptural way than ‘Sunday church’. Also Paul wrote this to the Hebrews, the Jews had a custom of meeting on Sabbath; Paul is simply saying when you transition into this New Covenant keep getting together! You are forsaking old sacrificial ways and law, but keep assembling. This is also why you find the ‘congregation’ and assembly mentioned in James. The Jewish context of those being addressed required them to deal with ‘assembling’ because they already ‘assembled’ as Jews. Also to use these verses to ‘push back’ against the Body of Christ finding freedom and maturity is simply a result of Pastors responding to reform out of insecurity. You can ‘go to church every Sunday for the rest of your life’ and still be ‘separating yourself’ from the purpose of God. When old time preachers do this kind of defense, I know they are sincere, but we must be willing to change!

(308) Just remembered something that I wanted to share. I heard a brother speaking on Revelation. One of the rebukes to the 7 churches is they held to the ‘doctrine of the Nicolatians’. There have been different ideas about who they were. Most commentators agree that it speaks of ‘those who would rise above the saints’ or the rise of both early ecclesiastical offices [Bishop, Priests, etc] as well as later protestant titles [Pastor]. Some feel that the unscriptural foundation for the way these offices function are what this ‘doctrine of the Nicolatians’ is about. You can interpret many of the passages that deal with authority in either ‘family’ terms or ‘authoritarian’ terms. A famous, well respected evangelical scholar [reformed] actually did a whole book on the King James translation and how they chose to interpret many of the words in authoritarian language as opposed to family language. OBEY THOSE WHO HAVE THE RULE OVER YOU and other scriptures that could have said FOLLOW THE GUIDANCE OF SPIRITUAL ELDERS IN YOUR MIDST. Some feel the reason the most popular version today [King James] opted for this way of translating was for political necessity. The Church of England chose to use this terminology to reinforce the mindset of ‘submission to authority’ that is the authority of England and it’s ‘church’ as they were blatantly moving out from under the ‘authority’ of Rome. Sort of ‘you can have your cake and eat it too’ type deal. The historical background to the political motivation of this is no secret. I usually don’t approach it from this angle because it challenges the strong ‘King James only’ crowd a little too much. I believe exposing the simple fact of the New Testament not showing the modern role of ‘Pastor’ as we practice it today is enough to cause us to ‘re think’ the ‘ruling’ offices in the church. I do believe the Lord has Elders/leaders that function in the Body of Christ, but I also see truth to the fact that many modern offices have been ‘developed’ outside of the original intent of the Spirit of God.

(314) CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP DOES NOT EXIST FOR THE PURPOSE OF SELF ADVANCEMENT AND UPWARD MOBLITY AT THE EXPENSE OF THE ‘LAITY’ we need to re think our function in this area. Paul and Jesus were not going around promoting what God was doing thru them, nor were they recruiting ‘financial partners’ to simply experience the Kingdom vicariously thru the gifted leader. They were depositing into the people and releasing them to function on their own. You find Paul and Jesus receiving financial support to send them and help them in their traveling ministry, but today’s mindset of the Leader being ‘sent’ all over the world while the saints sit back and wait to hear all the stories was not the normal mode. Paul did share what God was doing, don’t get me wrong. But today’s mindset sees the people as promoters of the leaders lifestyle and gift. This is why you have well meaning Ministry leaders who live in multi million dollar homes while the average supporter of the ministry lives in a $100,ooo dollar one [or rents an apartment]. It’s OK to live in a million dollar home, but it’s hard to appeal to supporters who are on fixed income, and to ask them to give out of their lack while doing this. The leaders have simply become victims of the western mindset of ministry that pools 90 % of the funds from the average person. While many of the leaders do use the majority of the funds for good things [Christian TV] they seem to justify a lifestyle of wealth and happiness at the expense of the sacrificial giver by their reading of the prosperity scriptures. ‘If God wants me to have wealth, then it’s OK’. They truly don’t see the rebukes in scripture to the ‘shepherds’ who have become wealthy at the expense of the sheep. Being wealthy is OK, you are not allowed to do it from the overall aggregate giving of many average income people. Scripture does forbid this in many places. NOTE: If the leaders salary is equal to those who are sending in support then it’s OK. If the leader is more frugal, a better investor and manages thru time to buy a million dollar home then that’s fine. I am speaking of those who run large ministries and their ‘salary’ including all the perks is in the millions. They often have their family members on the payroll at large salaries [500 thousand] while they really don’t do that much. These leaders look at the average CEO of a large company who makes millions more and justifies it this way. The reason you shouldn’t do this is because the non-profit ministry is really not ‘producing a product’ or commodity. The way they are bringing in millions [or billions] is thru outright giving. This is different than a for profit business. So the way to measure salary shouldn’t be thru the abusive CEO pay, but thru what I just showed you. Paul was reaching the entire known world of his day, pretty much single handedly. He found himself making tents at times to support himself. He traveled like the average person and lived in a lifestyle commensurate with those he was reaching. Jesus also. This is why you read Peter saying ‘desire to be an elder, not for filthy lucre’s sake, but of a ready mind’. This is why it is so important for us to have a good understanding of scripture. A friend of mine was attending a local word of faith church. And right from the start the preacher was confessing ‘you wait and see, my faith is going to produce a Cadillac by the end of this year’. Well this brother means well, he just doesn’t see all the things I just showed you. And when you try to correct this stuff, they will not listen! NOTE: What bugs the ‘hell’ out of me is the inability for prophetic people to see this. It’s like when you try to show a ‘prophet’ something he dismisses all the verses and warnings about this because he knows the other verses on prosperity. Heck [Ill’ be nice] I know them too!

(380) ‘Truth trumps authority’ [or actually ‘truth and authority co exist’] Many years ago when I attended a Fundamental Baptist Church they viewed the ‘Assembly of God’ church down the block as a cult. They had speakers come in and give revivals and they would say that the ‘tongues talkers’ are a cult. They would give examples of people who were speaking in tongues and some one who knew the language actually said they were cursing God [by the way this is possible. There very well might have been a ‘demonic’ infiltration like this. There are incidents of possession that have had a type of demonic thing like this happen. The problem is you can’t paint all ‘tongues speaking’ with this brush. Many ‘tongues speaking’ people are the ones who brought these things out] the point is when I eventually left this church, they were a little ‘cultic’ in their mindset. They challenged leaving their group. But when the Pastor [a really good man who I respect today!] saw that I was going to leave to start a church, he also knew I couldn’t go along with the ‘anti charismatic’ stuff anymore. He then appealed to ‘authority structures’ to challenge my decision. He basically said ‘well if you are leaving to become a preacher, and you think the charismatics are OK, then even they agree with us that you must follow the guidelines of bible school and ordination and all these things. You cant just go and preach!’ I found this interesting, though they viewed the ‘assembly of God’ as a cult, they then resorted to the mutual agreement that they all had that said ‘how dare you try to function outside of the standard norms of authority’. They all saw authority as a process you go thru to gain legitimacy. The simple act of being equipped with truth and declaring that truth [The Gospel] wasn’t really sufficient, unless you ‘jumped thru the hoops’. In scripture you do find ‘lines of authority’ biblical mandates to ‘obey those who care for you’ and things like this. Paul himself taught stuff like this. Paul also challenged the ‘normal lines of authority’. Paul became an Apostle after the original 12. The early church had a hard time with accepting his authority. The Jerusalem leadership actually had the mindset of ‘we were in this before you. You don’t have the legitimacy to preach this gospel to gentiles. You have gone ‘outside’ of the accepted norms to be ‘ordained’ and recognized as one who has authority.’ You read this in Acts chapter 15 as well as Galatians chapter 1. Paul eventually says ‘I don’t care who these guys think they are. It doesn’t matter to me. I am sent to preach the gospel, and if their ‘authority structures’ have been by passed, then the ‘authority of truth’ trumps them’. This is the same reformation spirit you see in Luther in the 16th century. Basically we all have times of growth and development where we learn to respect Elders and those whom God has been using. They have truly earned biblical respect. It’s when these guidelines of authority and leadership try to ‘trump’ truth that truth trumps the ‘structures’ [both the protestant reformation going over ‘Rome’s’ head, as well as what Paul did in the 1st century]. Paul will actually rebuke Peter face to face in the whole area of Gentile acceptance by faith. The fact that Paul was right in doctrine, made him right in authority. The challenge from the Fundamental Pastor sounded good, but it was fundamentally flawed. He basically tried to say ‘even if we view the other church as a cult, we all agree that you cant preach/ start a church without going thru the accepted structural procedures’. Basically if you are called of God and are walking in truth you have authority. If you ‘depart’ from truth along the way, you lose authority. Though Gods giftings and callings are permanent, when you step out of truth you are ‘temporarily’ setting aside your authority. I feel this is important for those who feel like they have really learned truth from us this past year. Don’t stay faithful to systems of thought and belief that are operating on the ‘fringes of truth’. You have the right to walk away from that stuff. Keep loving the people, they are good people [Jerusalem church] but you have a mandate from God, walk in it!

(384) ‘You have been faithful over a little, I will now give you authority over 10 cities’ Jesus says this to the disciples. Sometimes in our minds we picture the Apostles as ‘city managers’ over future cities. Remember in Jesus teaching ‘authority’ was not ‘being over people’. We know Jesus taught stuff like this, yet we read him saying stuff about authority and we see it as ‘being in charge’. How did the apostles ‘have authority over cities’? By bringing the gospel to these regions and the people who believed became their ‘spiritual children’. Paul told the Corinthians that he had apostolic authority ‘over’ them because he birthed them thru the gospel. Being ‘faithful’ over a little. What’s this? Many of you who have made it this far on this blog have read things that you personally knew to be true before you heard me say it. Yet until you heard me say it you never really were able to truly make the break. It’s like we go thru a process of hearing and seeing before we are ‘faithful’ to what God said. Some of the things I have shown you guys are obvious mistakes that even a child could see was wrong. Yet the peer pressure of being in an environment where others hold to certain things, though obviously wrong, is hard to break. Once you learn to ‘be faithful in the little areas of hearing and obeying’ then God allows you to ‘have authority’ over 10 cities. That is he gives you influence in his Kingdom for his purpose. Many times we seek to have a voice/forum in the Kingdom. We do things to ‘make our voice heard’ but God is primarily looking for people who will speak truth when they see it. Learn to be faithful to the things God is plainly showing you, then he will ‘put your feet in a large place’ [of influence]. NOTE: In my own life I have gone thru stages where the Lord will ‘increase my area’ of influence from the present one to ‘another place’. When these events happen I can tell before hand. It’s sort of like the excitement from the present region ‘wanes’ a feeling of ‘this present parameter is too small, don’t despise the ‘days of small things’ but I am bringing you to a larger place’. When this happens with me it’s like a feeling of ‘the people we are presently reaching are still valuable, but you are moving to another place. That which I have done thru you and for you are ‘seeds’ that will continue to bear fruit long after you’re gone. You have been faithful over ‘this little area’ and now move on’. Even if the ‘area’ seemed big a few years ago, when I sense this type of transition, it seems ‘small’. I also make it a conscious point to NOT DESPISE or think condescending towards the previous ‘land marks’. I feel this in itself enables me to gain authority in a larger region. Also the amount of ‘pain’ associated with the larger area of influence [for as MANY as were astonished at thee, so shall you touch MANY nations] keeps you from lusting after the influence. Scripture says Jesus ‘despised the shame’ associated with the Cross [Hebrews] but endured it realizing that the ‘regional impact’ would be directly related to his suffering. The MANY who were astonished equals the MANY who you will have influence with! Also in Isaiah it says the children that you will have, after you have lost the other will say to you ‘this place is too small for me’ and you will respond ‘who birthed all these children, I was in captivity, I was going back and forth, I was suffering. How in the world did I gain such a following?’ It’s almost like the fact of the extreme difficulty was actually producing the children/converts. This is an amazing thing that you will see thru out scripture. ‘More are the children of the desolate, than of the married wife’. Look at the covenant women in scripture, they are for the most part barren [forsaken] and yet give birth to these tremendous prophetic people [Samuels mother, John the Baptist, Sara].

(392) I spoke a while back on the Pastor friend that used to attend the church I Pastored years ago. Let me share a few things from this experience that serve to illustrate a point. One time this friend was struggling financially [actually all the time] I used to advise him to get a job until he felt like ‘the ministry’ would support him. He seemed to fall into the mistake that sees ‘ministry’ as a trade, and therefore getting a job would be wrong. He would get offended when I told him stuff like this. One time he had put some pens he had made with scripture on them into the offering. He later told me he had no money to give, but by putting the pen in, with scripture on it, he was ‘exalting’ the Word and God would see this ‘seed’ he planted and give him a return. All of this was symptomatic of the way the Word of faith movement would approach scripture. In this case my friend was violating all the verses that speak of being diligent, working and stuff like this. He then felt ‘honoring the Word’ was doing what he did. Many in this movement teach that to be a ‘doer of the Word’ means to ‘speak the Word’. Speaking the Word is a good thing, but being a ‘doer’ is contrasted with being a ‘hearer/speaker’. This actual teaching comes from the book of James and James is saying ‘don’t be a hearer only, but be a doer’. ‘doing’ in this context is not ‘speaking’ it is ‘doing’. James says if someone comes to your door and is in need and you say [confess] ‘be warmed and filled’ but you don’t actually meet the need, then you are only a ‘confessor’ and not a ‘doer’. It’s another one of those strange interpretations where these brothers found a way to teach that ‘doing the word’ means ‘saying the word’ even though ‘saying the word’ is what is being contrasted with ‘doing the word’. Jesus did say ‘say unto this mountain’ and the Word of God teaches the principles of confession and speaking truth, the problem is these things are simply tools to help us along the road. They are not to become the road! To simply learn and put into effect all the biblical ‘techniques’ and watch them work does not mean you are in the will of God. Many people have excelled in finances thru the use of biblical principles. Some of them were called to other things and instead chose to become wealthy. They might have even attained the wealth thru ‘diligence’ [a biblical principal] but if that truly was not Gods purpose for them, they failed. I find the focus on techniques and ‘windfall’ inheritances less than profitable. Many who hold to the ideas that my friend held to will see the truth of God giving the ‘wealth of the heathen/Egyptians into the hands of Israel’ and will use this to justify a lazy lifestyle. The above friend believed that God was going to ‘give him the wealth of the heathen’. Does scripture say the ‘wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous’ you bet! But it continues to say ‘and God will give it into the hands of those who are upright in his sight’. Is being lazy upright? Is sitting around spending your life waiting for some windfall upright? God gave the children of Israel the wealth of Egypt because the children of Israel labored for years as slaves, they were not being compensated justly for their work. They got paid for their work by leaving Egypt with their wealth. God did not give an inheritance to his people who weren’t working! Well the point today is don’t use scripture as a ‘technique book’ that if you master you will get more than the next guy. Scripture is a book that brings us the truth of the gospel. We enter into covenant with God thru this gospel. We become ‘debtors’ to this great God and Father. We seek to serve him all our days. We are not looking for schemes to ‘get rich quick’. NOTE: In Jesus teaching he says ‘why do people confess me as Lord, but do not do what I say’ ‘many people will come to me and say ‘Lord, Lord’ and I will say ‘I never knew you’. I am not saying these brothers are not Christians, they are. I just want you to see that Jesus really put the emphasis on ‘doing the works’ more so than on ‘what you say’. The ‘saying of things’ is a part of it. But this is not the ‘heart of the matter’.

(400) ‘Its not the perpetuation of our personas that we are looking for, it’s the impartation of the gift, in order to bring to maturity the Body of Christ’. A crucial aspect of this is the season of recognizing that you have effectively planted the seed. Then to purposefully withdraw your image and ‘preoccupation’ that people will have towards your gift, and to allow Christ to increase as you decrease HE MUST INCREASE, AND I MUST DECREASE [John the Baptist speaking of Christ]. As Jesus ‘increases’ into maturity thru the Church becoming more self sufficient, we must decrease in proportion. If we don’t properly make this adjustment then the people of God will never fully develop. This means ‘Christ didn’t increase’ [as being fully formed thru his people] as a direct result of our not ‘decreasing’. NOTE; There are many modern scenarios where the Pastor is totally frustrated with the inability of his people to grow. They fall into a ‘trap’ where they see this year after year and this develops a ‘dysfunctional family’ where the well-meaning Pastor begins to berate the ‘children’ for never rightfully transitioning into adulthood. The saints ‘come to church’ and the ‘Pastor’ basically yells at them for not growing. They don’t seem to see that the reason they are not growing is because the system depends on them to stay the same. The system [modern church] needs them to be faithful tithers in order to fund the system. Before there can ever be any real change, there has to come a paradigm shift of what ‘being the church’ really means.

(401) One of the hindrances to the development of the Body of Christ is the present mindset of ministry. Most good men who feel God has called them into service usually wind up in a scenario where the main thrust of their life is preparing messages to preach on Sunday. All good men, I too have been there. There are many prophetic people who have had the same types of experiences that you have read on this site. Many leaders who have seen greater things than me. Why aren’t you as familiar with these brothers as me? Why aren’t you growing thru their gift as was intended? For the most part it’s because the average Pastor is consumed with the functioning of his ‘church’ [Christian business]. He sees his responsibility as primarily servicing the people. Marrying, burying, getting the message ready. Stuff like this. Nothing really wrong about it, its just too much time is spent with these things and he never sees himself primarily as a vision implanter into people. Now some Pastors have written books and have done some long term planting. But for the most part the average Christian Pastor falls into this role of ‘full time minister’ that is to be found nowhere in the New Testament! Think long term my friends. If God is revealing things to you, write them down. Give time and attention to the specific areas of revelation that he has shown you. You don’t have to come up with something new to preach every week. Just allow the Spirit of God to use you to shape people into what God has for them. Try to break out of the mold of the modern Pastor who for the most part spends his entire life speaking to the ‘laity’, while spending 1% of his life hearing them. This is not a biblical model! Well that’s all for now, felt this word was for someone [I have no one in specific in mind]. NOTE: As this blog becomes known, I kinda sense the feeling from some Pastors who ‘hear’ about us thru their ‘parishioners’ that they feel ‘we have a web site too’. Sort of in a defensive way. ‘Why don’t you go to our site? I don’t get into this type of competition stuff; I want all people to go to all web sites and every other thing the Lord is using in the church. The reason why some of these ‘church web sites’ are not as popular is because many of them are geared to either promote a book [I am thinking of an out of town site] or to invite people to ‘church’. People are hurting and starving for real truth. See your web site as a radical means to get the message out. If all you are doing is advertising for church meetings, people are looking for more. This might be the reason that some Pastors are wondering why their sites aren’t as popular as they want.

(407) Been studying an apostolic movement. I am familiar with this church. They have a few of them in our area. A lot of stuff on line says they are a cult. They really are not one in doctrine. The leader of the movement has a legalistic background from an old time Pentecostal church [four square] and it seems to me that the movement, though Christian, has embraced a lot of the mistakes from the ‘Shepherding/Discipling’ movement. I am not studying what the so called ‘cult researchers’ are saying about them. I am reading from their actual story on line. It really is a great story. One of the limitations of these movements are the limited way they see ‘church’. For the most part these groups see church as sending someone to a city, either renting, buying or building a building [too many of us still cant get past this building centric mindset- none of the disciples or New Testament Apostles EVER did this!] They then set up ‘a Pastor’ to ‘run’ this ‘New Testament Church’. And then the strong authoritarian types will basically teach a strong doctrine of submission to this ‘New Testament order’ and anyone who questions this very limited/unbiblical view of ‘Local Church’ is ‘out of order’ and seen to be ‘departing from the faith’. We need to get back to the biblical model of Jesus and the Apostles. Jesus sent them out ‘2 by 2’ to go and bring this message [the gospel] to the cities and towns where they were sent. Later you see Paul doing this same thing. The ‘planting of churches’ was the actual speaking the gospel to people groups. Those who would believe and get baptized became ‘the church’. These believers were encouraged to get together, have fellowship meals [the original pattern of the ‘Lords Supper’] and to basically be ‘Gods Ecclesia’ in their town. They were seen to be Gods ‘dwelling place’. There was no ‘church’ that they were going to on ‘Sunday’. Paul told the Corinthians that when they got together on the 1st day of the week they were to take up an offering. We take stuff like this and turn it into a commandment. We teach Sunday as some type of New Testament Sabbath [it is not!] and we say ‘go to church on Sunday, obey your Pastor [singular] and put in a tithe’. This is permitted to a degree, but in no way is this some type of mandated New Testament order. That’s why those Pastors who lean towards grace and liberality are seeing growth. They are operating in this system while not teaching that this system ‘is church’ to the same legalistic degree as the other guys. Now when you take this limited way of seeing church, and you put it into the hands of strong authoritarian types. Then you have the ingredients of a ‘cult like’ culture within the group. You find well-meaning Pastors telling Christians ‘how dare you challenge my biblical authority, you are under me’ well this is an abuse of the grace of God. These well meaning guys have taken a pattern of ‘church’ that is common for our day, and have turned it into THE MEASURE of a person’s faith. Any question from the parishioners is seen as rebelling against ‘Gods Man’. Well just remember Paul was not teaching this strong Sunday church, tithing to the church, obey your Pastor mindset. Paul actually teaches [Romans] that the weaker Christians [in faith] will observe certain days and foods and stuff as clean or unclean. He then teaches those who are stronger [more mature] in the faith don’t do this. So for believers to meet on Sunday and to give offerings and to share in Gods grace is a good thing. But to teach that a limited system where you are under ‘a Pastor’ for the rest of your life can become ‘cult like’ in its expression, especially if you have a legalistic background to begin with. [The movement I am studying is known as ‘the door’ or the ‘Potters House’, not to be confused with T.D. Jakes]. NOTE: A few things that I want you to see about the biblical mindset of every believer having the potential to go and evangelize the world. When a believer goes forth with the gospel and brings the good news of Gods forgiveness and acceptance thru Christ. Others want this. To simply see ‘church planting’ as a natural outgrowth of evangelism allows for there to be a rapid increase of the gospel thru out a region. Everybody can ‘pass it on’ to everyone else. You are not viewing ‘church planting’ as going somewhere to start an organization that will need lots of money to function; you are simply preaching the gospel. Those who believe get together, there will be elders [more mature ones] that will have special ability to ground these new believers. But for the most part the only ‘finances’ needed to do this is enough money to get you to the place of ‘sending’. You then teach these new believers to share of their resources with the less fortunate. This is actually the biblical model of church planting. This is why Paul could evangelize large territories in his day. The modern idea sees the need to raise tons of money to support ‘other pros’ who are doing it for a living [missionaries]. They see church planting/evangelism as the ‘job’ of those in ‘full time ministry’. The average believer is told ‘your primary responsibility is to work in the secular world and bring in the finances for the ‘church’ [Christian business] to have enough money to pay the pros’. We have effectively ‘de clawed’ the average believer from the divine mandate to go and preach the gospel to all nations. That’s why when the well intentioned Pastors get mad at me for preaching against tithing, they really can not see how the ‘law of the tithe’ has actually put people back under bondage. The average believer is under the bondage of seeing himself as the ‘resource pool’ that brings the money in for others to do the ‘ministry’. This is actually a form of legalism that puts believers under bondage. Every so often you get a radical believer who breaks the mold of simply being a ‘funder’ and then he goes off and enters ‘full time ministry’. He is then taught all the above and the cycle repeats! The Pastor feels like he is doing right because he now is so fulfilled [it cant be wrong if it feels so right]. But he doesn’t realize the fulfillment he is experiencing is to a large degree the sense of well being that God intended for all the saints to experience as they express themselves and give themselves away for the gospel. In essence the Pastor had the courage to break the mold and step into the journey, but where we have failed is to then take that person and make him into a propagator of the current system. God wants a change in the current system. God wants all his kids to see that we all have this freedom to run the race and be active. It is not limited to the ‘full time clergy’! NOTE: When the well meaning Pastor in the current system looks at the statistics ‘only so many percent of all Christians tithe, therefore we are not reaching the world’ he is seeing ‘reaching the world’ from his limited paradigm. This type of Pastor truly believes it is the lack of tithing that is hindering the gospel. It is not the lack of tithing that is doing this, it is the above system that is limiting the gospel! NOTE; The other day I was trying to open some bag of lunchmeat or something. I remember how hard it was to get the bag open. So of course I thanked the Lord for this obstacle and praised him as I looked for a pair of scissors [I am lying]. I did think to myself ‘what a wonderful product. I am sure it will taste good. I am sure the producers went out of their way to produce the product. Much thought went into the marketing of it. They only forgot a very small thing, they made it next to impossible to actually access the thing!’ This is what we do in modern church. The most valuable asset are the People of God. They can do unbelievable things in the area of reaching the world. We have made it next to impossible to ‘get the product out of the package’.

(415) I want to talk a little about ‘Local Church’. As I am reading on movements who ‘plant’ Local Churches, it is reminding me of some things. First, nowhere in the New Testament is the command given to ‘go and plant New Testament churches’. Now I don’t want to be picky here. I want you to see why this is so. Protestantism has developed an understanding of ‘Local Church’ that is really unbiblical. I recently read about a movement that ‘sends out churches’ to cities as opposed to ‘sending out missionaries/evangelists’. They see the sending of a person to get a building and preach on Sunday and get the tithe and for people to be ‘faithful’ to the ‘local church’ as the right way to evangelize because ‘this is Gods plan’. Then another group says ‘we are a ‘local church’ with a worldwide vision’. The more extreme brothers will teach ‘you are not in right relationship with God until you submit to his plan, which is ‘the Local Church’. All these brothers mean well. They are just expressing views that are un biblical. The ‘local churches’ in scripture were all the believers living in a ‘locality’. In these ‘communities of believers’ there were gifted men who God placed there for the growth of ‘the local church’ [all the Christians]. Today’s idea of every city having 100 to 200 local churches, all with the office of ‘Pastor’ who is the authority over that specific group is no where to be found in scripture. Now all the brothers doing these things are not heretics [notice I said ‘not all’]. But when you take this limited view that sees ‘the local church’ as the separate organization that you start in your area. And then you teach a form of ‘being in submission’ as tithing to that thing, you are in essence usurping Gods authority that is being released thru a wide diversity of gifts in your area. God sees ‘the local church’ and its ‘members’ as those who are called out of the world unto Christ who reside ‘locally’. So you are ‘part of the local church/group of Christians in your area’ by virtue of the fact that you are all ‘partaking spiritually of the Body of Christ’. The outward sign of this is the Lords Supper. So for you to view your ‘membership’ with a particular group [among 100’s] and then to say ‘I am faithful to ‘my local church’ [the Sunday meeting I attend] and to not see the reality that all the believers in your area are ‘local church’ actually harms the church. Most Protestants do not realize how this limited view ‘colors’ the way they read scripture. In the book of Revelation you find the letters to the 7 churches. These ‘churches’ are once again all the believers living in different locals. God is speaking to the ‘Angels’ of these churches in this book. ‘To the Angel of the Church of so and so’ the word for angel is ‘messenger’. You have the majority of Protestants teaching these angels are the ‘Pastors’ of these ‘churches’. There was NEVER a Pastor over all the believers in these locations. Sardis, Ephesus, Thyatira, etc. When I do the radio ministry. It is not a ministry ‘to the radio’. When I speak into the cassette recorder, I am not ‘speaking to the recorder’. In scripture Angels are messengers. They receive and transmit the message from God. These ‘angels’ of these 7 churches were simply that! God is speaking to the ‘messengers’ and saying ‘if you don’t repent I will remove your candlestick’. These are not messages to Pastors over churches [see how your view colors this!] these are Gods words spoken to his ‘transmitters’ and therefore he is saying it ‘to the angels’ just like I preach ‘into the radio’. Now all of this is for the purpose to show you that God doesn’t send people or movements to go and ‘plant churches’ per se. He sends people to preach the gospel to people groups [Gods idea of ‘churches/ communities’]. These ‘groups’ of people who believe become the ‘local churches’ of the New Testament. When Paul writes to these ‘churches’ he is addressing ‘all the believers’ in the locality. If there were an ‘office’ of Pastor like we practice it today, there would be no way that these letters would not contain strong instructions and rebukes ‘for the Pastor’ [by name if they were singular authorities]. For the ‘churches’ in the book of Revelation to have had ‘Pastors’ over these entire regions, and for us to not know their names is unthinkable! All the major figures [Paul, Peter, John, etc] were well known leaders in the first century church. To have had ‘Pastors’ as the singular authorities of entire regions, and for them to have remained anonymous till this day would have been impossible! So in essence you are not going around setting up some type of organization that people need to submit to in order to be in ‘proper order’. Gods ‘proper order’ is to be ‘under Christ’. This does carry with it the humility to accept and receive the gifts that God has placed in our communities. The Pastors and Prophets and all the other gifts. These are gifts to the entire community to build the people up. When you have ‘church planters’ who are going around [with a good intent] teaching believers that they must ‘submit to the local church, because this is Gods program for reaching the world’ they are seeing ‘local church’ in a way that is really unbiblical. God is sending all of us out into the harvest field to preach the gospel. I don’t see all the ‘Sunday Local Churches’ as wrong or in rebellion. I see that overall we are all Gods kids who are doing our best to please God. When we deal in grace with each other God works. When we use limited forms of church to the degree of seeing those who don’t fully operate in that mindset as being in rebellion, then we are not truly building each other up in love. NOTE: One of the faults with these strong authoritarian church planting movements is they use verses like ‘follow me as I follow Christ’. They use this to push back against their critics who say they are too authoritarian. ‘Hey, Paul told people to follow him’. Yes he did ‘as I follow Christ’. How did Paul ‘follow Christ’ well he certainly wasn’t setting up ‘local churches’ with Pastors ‘over the people’! NOTE; The first 3 centuries of Christianity you didn’t have ‘church’ as the place you go to on Sunday for religious worship. This mindset developed over time. Our Catholic friends developed a way of doing church that saw the ‘priest’ as the ‘minister’ empowered by Christ’s grace to ‘oversee’ the Mass where the Eucharist becomes the means of grace whereby God ‘infuses’ grace into the souls of the faithful. Basically the Catholic ‘chapter’ for their belief is centered around John chapter 6 ‘unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood you have no life in you’. While I do not hold to the doctrine of ‘transubstantiation’ I do not see my Catholic brothers as wicked ‘devil worshippers’ for this. I see it more as an historic belief that did develop out of an ‘infancy stage’ of Christianity. Holding to Jesus words literally [which Luther himself held to in this area of disagreement with Zwingli, the Swiss reformer!] with a childlike belief that many Christians embraced. During the ‘reformation’ of the 16th century you had many doctrines questioned, but for the most part the Protestants simply changed the office of the priest with the office of ‘the Pastor’ as the ‘clergy person’ who will administer this ‘protestant office’. This ‘office’ does not exist in the New Testament! So today we are seeing the Lord move in an area of ‘reformation’ [a process, not a one time event] concerning ‘church form’. Something that really wasn’t adequately dealt with in the 16th century movement. So we move on to maturity as we accept the good things of the church Fathers [even the Catholic ones!] and we ‘move away’ from forms and styles that are not mandated in scripture. We should not be ‘anti Sunday church/Pastor’ as much as we should be ‘pro Body of Christ’. Wanting to see the people of God fully functional under the headship of Christ. NOTE: This causes us to deal in grace with our fellow Christians. I have heard Protestant preachers say ‘the Catholics teach for doctrine the commandments of men’ while all the while they are declaring a ‘form of local church’ as THE SINGULAR TOOL OF GOD TO CHANGE THE WORLD that is nowhere to be found in scripture! NOTE; ‘Enlarge the place of thy tent and LET THEM stretch forth the curtains of thy habitations’ I spoke on this verse from Isaiah a few entries back. The LET THEM speaks of releasing your spiritual offspring to continue the growth of the spiritual lineage that God permits us to ‘birth’ into the Kingdom. This ‘letting them’ is a voluntary act of leadership releasing people to continue the journey on their own with Jesus becoming their ‘Chief Pastor/Shepherd’. In today’s ‘Local Church’ environment we do not practice the ‘letting go’ part well. NOTE; I have taught the term Ecclesia in our books. Let me mention that the way we view ‘Local Church’ rides heavily on how you interpret this word. The word ‘ecclesia’ is the Greek word in the New Testament for ‘Church’. In the early centuries we see how the believers understood this to mean a ‘called out community of people’, not necessarily ‘those called to the building on Sunday’. Later Christians [and theologians] began to develop a type of ‘ecclesiology’ [church form] that fit into the limited mindset of Church being the place where Christians go on Sunday. While it is true that the word ‘Ecclesia’ can describe a ‘city council meeting’ or other types of public assemblies. The true intent behind the ‘called out people’ are those who have been called out of society [separated in the biblical sense] and have become citizens of another country/Kingdom. So to limit the ‘church’ to the actual place of meeting is really not scriptural. The term for church was simply the best word to use at the time. Words are limited. It takes the Spirit of God to truly convey the meaning of them. We do not contradict the words that are used in scripture to make up our own definitions [which is a common hobby today] but we allow the Spirit of God to reveal to us things that the ‘surface reading’ can’t fully show us. NOTE; You never had a scenario where Paul would address the ‘church of Corinth’ or another area and say ‘and to you who live in Corinth, but are actually members of the church at Ephesus, because you have chosen to have membership there’ You were part of the church at Corinth by virtue of the fact that you lived in Corinth and were a believer. You didn’t have the idea of joining a separate entity [group] like the ‘Elks’ lodge or something of this nature. We have developed a way of seeing church that seems to tell believers you must join a specific ‘church’ in your city, out of the 100’s of ‘churches’ that exist there. While it is fine to ‘go to a church on Sunday’ we must not see them as actual ‘local churches’ in and of themselves, this cause’s a division to the Body of Christ that is not seen in scripture.

(417) Being I just discussed healing, lets talk about the ‘baptism of the Spirit’. When attending a Baptist church they taught the Baptism of the Spirit occurred at the new birth. When you are born again you ‘got it’. Every believer most certainly has the Holy Spirit. The Assembly of God friends taught ‘you got saved, but you didn’t get the Baptism until a separate experience’. This too can be found in scripture. If you look at the book of acts [which I haven’t read in years!] you see in chapter 10 the Gentile converts. The fact is ‘they got it all at the same time’. Sorry to my Pentecostal friends. But you can look at Acts 19 and see Paul saying ‘have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed’ to some disciples. They tell Paul ‘we haven’t even heard of the Spirit’. Now I do want to stress that many Pentecostals do read this to show its possible to believe and ‘not have the Spirit’. Actually if you read this passage you will see that they were ‘baptized with Johns baptism’ they were only disciples in as much as they received the initial message of repentance that John the Baptist preached. Paul tells them ‘he preached about someone who was to come later [not the Spirit, but Jesus!] and then after they heard this’ [not the message of the baptism of the Spirit, but the gospel] then they were baptized and Paul laid hands on them and they prophesied and spoke in tongues. The point is these believers were not believing in Christ yet. They didn’t hear the ‘rest of the story’ until Paul preached it. I am not siding today with either side. I am showing that the book of Acts is ‘Gods diary’ if you will, it is a compilation of the ‘experiences of God with men’. It certainly is doctrinally sound, don’t get me wrong. But it shows Gods primary purpose of redemption and how he is sovereign. If he chooses to ‘give it all at once’ in chapter 10. Or to ‘give it thru the laying on of hands’ in chapter 19. He has the right to do whatever he wants. He is God! It is perfectly biblical to have both ways of operation in existence. It’s possible that the Pentecostals are right and the Baptists! You mean God actually might have been experienced in different ways by different groups? Yes! Scripture shows that this is possible. Now I want to make my self clear. I believe in the gifts and operations of the Spirit. You can actually develop a doctrine of ‘multiple baptisms’, times where the Spirit shook and ‘baptized’ groups on more than one occasion. God is God, be open to his reality. Don’t take one part of a chapter and try to make it fit for everyone. Both sides are guilty of this. The Spirit of God is alive and active. John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb! You mean before he got saved? Now go and rack your brains on this one.

(446) A few years ago I had a Pastor friend who kind of competed with me in ‘getting’ the addicts/ex-cons to ‘go to his church’. I knew this brother for years. He got saved in his 50’s [?] and started preaching at the jails when I was going in my 20’s. Eventually he left the Pentecostal church he attended and ‘started his own church’. I knew he would talk about me every now and then, and to tell you the truth, it really didn’t bother me. It’s like when you go thru rumors that your are having a gay relationship with an ‘ordained minister/sorcerer’ who started the rumors himself, you kind of don’t mind about the regular normal gossip. I chalked it up to his immaturity in the Lord. Even though he was a good 25 years older than me, he meant well and was going thru the silly games preachers play when they first start out. He did invite me to preach at his church once, and we had a good service. But being he would gossip to me about the Pastor and church he had formally attended, I knew it was only a matter of time before he would get to me! I never even confronted him or anything, I just let it slide. One day he saw me at a restaurant with a brother [ex-con/addict] you could tell he was a little jealous that the brother was with me and not him. I don’t even ‘have a church’ but in his mind he was at the childish stage of ‘why don’t you come to my church’ type thing. This Pastor read my first book ‘house of prayer or den of thieves’ and I think it might have been a little strong. I never gave him my 2nd book, and as we went to the parking lot to get it, he started gossiping about the ex- addict brother who we just left to go into the parking lot! Well I gave him my 2nd book, which challenges the whole concept of ‘local church’ and the role of ‘Pastor’. I knew it wouldn’t be long before he would read it, and more than likely I would become the talk of the town by this Pastor in his 60’s who would probably call me a heretic. I just didn’t worry about it, I figured I would give him the book and just leave it at that. We did have a mutual Christian friend and I finally asked him how Pastor ‘so and so’ was doing. In a nice way, I kinda figured the Pastor might have already gotten to my friend and told him what a heretic I was. My friend said the last time he saw him he was in the hospital and it looked like he was going to die. I don’t think it was because he more than likely talked about me, it was just something that happened. I later thought about it, how so many of us [Pastors/leaders] see people as simple tools in a big game. To try to challenge the present mindset of ‘Pastor’ and ‘church’ is a difficult thing. To be sure all Pastors don’t fall into the category of my friend, but the system itself has a way to bring this type of stuff out of us, even the best of us. NOTE; he died a few months back, the same day I read of his death we had a strange phenomenon in the gulf where I live. We had a real clear ‘water spout’ that the local channels picked up. It was a perfect ‘tunnel’ type spout that showed the water going right up to ‘heaven’ thru this tube. I took it as a beautiful sign of my friend’s home going. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints!

(447) It is difficult for the American church/Pastor to ‘reform’ his understanding of church from one of ‘the 501c3 organization that raises funds to do projects and support ministries’ to that of a free community of people whom Christ’s Spirit dwells in to ‘reform and effect’ society around them. I remember hearing defenses of the ‘Local church’ from the fundamental Baptists that said ‘some people speak of the ‘invisible church/universal church’ well the bible never speaks of a church ‘you cant see’. While there is some truth to this, what these brothers were saying is ‘the local church is this ‘church building’ and all the functions that surround it’! God has his people strategically located all over the earth. When the Bible speaks of ‘local believers’ versus ‘the universal church’ it is not speaking of 2 different things. It is speaking of Christians who reside locally and to the believers who reside ‘universally’. They are the same thing, just in different locations. We have a tendency as Pastors and leaders to want to do some project, complete some goal. This is good. But it becomes ‘not good’ when we view Gods people at large as the primary ‘funders’ of the ‘big project’. This ‘projects’ a mindset into the people of God that is contrary to the function of the church. Moses, Paul and all the other biblical leaders were men with vision and destiny. Moses did ‘collect funds’ for certain godly purposes [the Tabernacle] while leading the people, but the primary thing they were doing, their ‘vision and destiny’ if you will, was bringing the people of God along a journey that led them to a place of self sufficiency/rule under the headship of God [Christ] that released them into a functioning society of people. You never see Paul or the other Apostles primarily relating to the people along the lines of ‘God has given me this vision, if you Galatians, Ephesians, etc. were simply obedient to fund it, then it would happen’ the vision was not some project or thing apart from their own function and growth. They were not following Paul’s leadership to accomplish something apart from them. What Paul [Moses] were doing was bringing them into the reality that God wants to express himself and who he is thru a people that bear his name. The fact that Israel [or the church] were being governed by God and representing him in the earth gave God ‘opportunities’ to act and show himself strong on their behalf. Society around them were not going to be influenced by the great things they were to build [Babel mindset] but they were to be influenced by who they were and their real relationship with God as a nation. So when we ‘see’ the church as ‘this visible 501c3 organization’ and the people as ‘taxpayers’ [tithers] to the projects and goals of the organization, this causes both the Pastors and the people to fall into roles that are not the primary expression of what God really wants. The people are faced, week after week, month after month, year after year, with leadership saying ‘you are not obedient enough in the area of raising funds’ and the primary challenge to the average saint in the pew is ‘I will give more diligently this time’ and his whole function is measured by this rule. Then leadership reinforces the ‘scriptural mandate’ of this dynamic by appealing to the few areas in Paul’s writings that speak on giving. Though Paul was not primarily dealing with it in the same way. We truly ‘see’ the function of the motivated minister to set goals and somehow inspire people to fund these well meaning goals. This is a very small part of what New Testament leadership was doing. In the very verses we use to justify ‘giving on Sunday’ in a legalistic way, Paul actually says ‘take up the collection before I get there [Corinth] because when I get there we have real important things to do, I don’t want to waste time dealing with the money stuff [1 Corinthians 16]’ so we take these verses that are teaching the small role that finances play in the functioning of the church [to support laboring elders/Pastors and to meet the needs of the less fortunate] and we turn these verses around and teach them in a way that giving becomes thee number 1 measurement of a persons faith. We give the mindset to the average believer that his main function is to ‘attend church and give money’ and he measures his faithfulness this way. And he is taught ‘God highly values the ‘local church’ if he loves it so much that he gave his life for it, how much more should you value the local church in your life and give it priority’ But we seem to be telling the poor people that the ‘it/local church’ is the organization and all that surrounds its ‘corporations life’ [versus corporate life]. Yes God does love the ‘local church’ [community of believers] and he did give his life for it [them and you!] and this is why you see biblical leadership so unfocused on some ‘vision to accomplish something’ and so focused on ‘seeing the people of God come to maturity’. They were giving their lives for the thing of value, which were the people of God [the LOCAL CHURCH!] NOTE: This is why you can see Paul in prison, writing letters to the churches and being totally fulfilled while doing this. His purpose was not to be in such a ‘state’ of outward self sufficiency and having all the money to accomplish some goal, he was actually doing the purpose of God by building the church, even though his outward man [and all of its expressions] were ‘passing away’. NOTE: the materialistic mindset in the church, along with the confusion on what [who] the church is, causes us to be unable to grasp how Paul could be ‘fulfilled’ even though he was not ‘building’ a ‘ministry or organization’. Paul was the one who said ‘we look not at the things which are seen, but unseen’ also ‘Abraham believed that the things that God said would come true’. We use these verses to bring us to a point of ‘making things seen’ or building outward stuff. In these verses God was defining faith as actually living in such a way that you knew after your departure that your ‘seed/lineage’ of spiritual children would ‘inherit’ the land. In essence ‘faith’ in these stories is the ability to die without actually seeing or possessing the physical promise in this life. The patriarchs are defined this way in Hebrews 11. They died as they blessed their offspring, believing that God would make a great ‘family/dynasty’ from their offspring. So Paul in prison is ‘unstoppable’ because he knew the Word of the Lord would have free course. He knew ‘by faith’ that these outward things were not really where the Kingdom was at. He knew by faith that after his death the ‘everlasting gospel’ would prevail and that by Gods grace his ‘spiritual seed’ would go on forever. That’s why I am writing about him now, and you are listening!

(448) I read an article the other day that illustrates this stuff. It was about a ‘bi-vocational Pastor’ who was ‘Pastoring’ 3 churches at a time, because the churches were too small to ‘afford a fulltime Pastor’ and there was a need for someone to ‘administrate the ordinances’ so what else could they do? The well-meaning Pastor was in his fifties and was a fulltime military man. And it showed a picture of him innocently ‘manning the pulpit’ as he fulfills this ‘office’ every Sunday for these 3 churches. It showed how much our present mindset of ‘church’ and the protestant office of ‘The Pastor’ is really an unbiblical role. I know this sounds ‘mean’ but for heavens sake lets move on with the program. God has been dealing with the Body of Christ for quite some time. He wants to release/empower us to ‘be the church’ [the mobile community of God functioning and flowing in all areas of society] if we can’t get past ‘how can our church function unless someone is pastoring it?’ then we still have a long way to go! NOTE: My ‘spell check’ is prophetic. When I wrote the word ‘unbiblical’ above, it actually fixed it on it’s own to say ‘umbilical [cord]’ we cant seem to ‘break’ the ‘childish’ connections that we have towards these ‘lifelong ties’ to a ‘Pastor’. God never intended any of his gifted ones to be the ‘lifelong’ overseer of anybody. These gifts [Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers] were all given to play a role at various times in your development to bring you to maturity, none of them were to fulfill the co-dependant role that the protestant office of ‘the Pastor’ has become! I think ‘umbilical cord’ was probably the right word! [Sorry, but I just couldn’t help it!]

(450) I was listening to a preacher telling his testimony. I have seen and read his writings before, but never heard him speak. The opinion I had from seeing/reading him was one of a very motivated professional minister. Nothing wrong, just the ‘jet set’ highly mobile successful mega church image. An image that often times is hard for the average person to relate to, though they are still very successful and accomplishing good things in the kingdom. As I finally heard him speak he sounded so much like me. He shared how he grew up in the 70’s, got high, listened to rock music and went to ‘deep purple’ concerts; it was a very real sounding testimony. You almost had the feeling of the voice not fitting the person [I know people feel this way when they see me too. I do not look, or come off as someone who teaches on radio and writes books and stuff]. The point I am making is sometimes the ‘environment’ of professional ministry hinders the ‘realness’ that God intended for the gospel to have. Jesus was very real and human in his lifestyle. Very different from the image/persona of religious leadership. There was no sense of ‘watch what you say, the Pastor is here’ type thing. I think it would do us good if we can be real people with real struggles with real friends. The unbelieving world has so many questions, but the ‘church world’ is so unapproachable that they look elsewhere for the answers. NOTE; In the early church Christianity was not a separate field or vocation like it is today. Today Christianity is a ‘world/business’ unto itself. While God did intend the church to influence all areas of society, he didn’t intend the church to have its own ‘culture’ of Christian things [Christian restaurants, Christian mechanics, Christian bookstores, and on and on] while these types of things are well intentioned, we unconsciously create a separate culture when we do this. The early believers lived and functioned as real people in society, even the Apostles! [Tent makers]. We sort of have developed a society within the church that has young believers seeing ‘the ministry’ as a profession. ‘God has called me to start a [some Christian function] ministry’ and then you have an entire sector of society whose profession and identity becomes defined by ‘full time Christian service’. The New Testament teaches whatever a person is doing as a vocation, he is serving Christ. It does a disservice to the testimony of believers when we make these secular/holy divisions. Christians are to discern between what is evil and what is good, but this does not mean we withdraw from the marketplace of influence, it also does not mean that we influence the market place by ‘Christian stuff’ [holding huge Christian festivals that draw millions of dollars, trying to show the world that we have influence. This really isn’t influence. Though millions are being spent, it is money basically generated by a ‘vacation/tourism’ mentality. While it is beneficial for believers to have times of refreshing, this type of economic impact is not the same as believers actually being owners of the motels and the other establishments that are benefiting from the festival type atmosphere]. I hope you can see what I am saying. It’s OK for a T.D. Jakes to do a ‘mega fest’ but this is not primarily what the scriptures are referring to when it speaks of believers affecting the world by ‘remaining in it’. We affect it by actually being the ‘prime movers’ and shakers in all areas. We carry the Spirit of God within us, we speak the gospel of hope to those around us, and we interact successfully with society, we don’t ‘withdraw’ into some ‘full time ministry’ mentality that causes the church to always appeal for funds [when I say church, I mean believers] because we feel like God has called us to not be employed and instead to make our living by offerings, this really is not a viable Christian testimony.

About ccoutreach87

my sites- www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com- ccoutreach87.wordpress.com- facebook.com/john.chiarello.5

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