Truth is Divinely Commanded PII

Read Matthew 5: 33-37

Truth is divinely commanded! 

We have no excuse to skirt around truth, play games, or manipulate justice with creative legal games in our judicial courts or in His Church! Nor, can we manipulate our agenda over and against God’s Truth and Word (Ex. 20:16; Lev. 19:11; Psalm 5:9; 12:1-4; 15:1-3; 52:2-5; Jer. 9:3-6; Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9; Rev. 22:15)!

 When we do engage in deceit and lies, we are following in the footsteps of Satan, not Christ. This includes political mongering in the church, like power plays, strife, fighting against godly leadership and the glory of God (Psalm 15; John 8:44)!

Character in leadership must be taken seriously. As God requires us to take our word and deeds seriously, as this is a reflection of our relationship to Him. Like in a ‘vow,’ we must never claim to do anything that is contrary to what is in Scripture, in Christ’s character, or cause someone else to violate God’s Word (Duet. 21:23; Ecc. 5:4-6)!

May these words of our Lord remind us that our speech reflects upon the God we serve! Because, everything we do as a child of God must be in integrity, truthfulness, and honesty, as we are not only representing Him, He is living in us!

Consider this for motivation: As a Christian, you have the Spirit of God living in you. Thus, when you make a statement, either false, or true, gossip, spread rumors, play games with peoples call and God’s plan, Christ is implicitly represented in it. So, you are using His name, as you are His representative. Thus, it is imperative that we behave with consistent truthfulness (1 Cor. 5:20)!

What can your church leadership do to make sure that their words and deeds are a reflection of their relationship to Christ? If they did this, how would it change your church? Why is it sad that we have to even ask such a question?

Truth is Divinely Commanded PI

Read Matthew 5: 33-37

Do you keep your word as a leader?  

Why would consistent integrity be essential for the person who claims Christ as Lord of his/her life? What about the pastor and church leader? 

Oaths in the ancient world were extremely important. They were so important, they were almost acknowledged as currency. The Jews during Jesus time swore to all kinds of things, from serious matters to the trivial. They were a statement of the person’s truthfulness and ability to meet a commitment anywhere, from the paying of debts to the promise of marriage.

Most of the Jews would make elaborate oaths to testify to the truth of their words and their commitment by claiming the importance of the Temple, or their house and goods–anything except God and His standards. In so doing they elevated the importance of material things over spiritual things; they measured their word and integrity by others, not to the standards of God.

The Law forbids irreverent oaths, especially the misuse of God’s name! If the Lord’s name was used in a transaction, the depth had to be paid also to the Lord. Thus, Jesus cuts through the complex additions the Pharisees have made to the law, right to the heart of the matter, and simply states, we are to tell the truth- period!

They had a good reason, so they thought, because, if they broke their word, God’s name was not in vain. But, this became epidemic as the oaths became more and more elaborate, the integrity became worse and worse, and those oaths quickly became broken and worthless. So, the Pharisees and various Rabbis would judge what oaths were binding and what ones were not. As long as God’s name was not in it, the oath could be broken, and people were free of responsibility to their word and commitment.

 Jesus calls us to be true to our word as a testimony to our Faith in Him. We are not to be worldly with our words or integrity or drag His good name and defile it with feeble, easily retracted words.

There is nothing complex about truth. If you seek to make it complex, you have no regard to truth or to the God of truth!

So, why do we seek to make it complex, seeking loopholes to escape responsibility and righteousness?

Why are Christians so interested in chasing fads? PII

 

Read Revelation 17-18

Here in this passage, being a “harlot” does not just mean standing on a street corner soliciting for unlawful relations; rather, it means for church leaders that we are engaged in and promoting apostasy!

Thus, betraying our Lord as in being a harlot to Christ. And this gives us a vital depiction on how God feels when we false teach, become prideful, lead His children astray, we are in fact betraying Him, insulting His Lordship; thus, being a prostitute with His Most precious Word!

What does this look like? The bad pastor and church leader is into themselves, and they lead their people away from God’s path, becoming disloyal to God and His true Truths to the point they blaspheme God. They focus their people to trust in materialism and trends that neuter the Bible, water down His Word and in so doing replace discipleship with mere entertainment and lead others to do so, too. In so doing, a harlot, just as Scripture shows us, is not ashamed, but rather boisterous and proud of sin.

What about factions, gossip, and pride? These are the things that God hates the most and cause the greatest destruction to any given church, something even Satan himself could never do.

Point? We are the real enemy, our sin building and conniving and converging upon one another, while we ignore Christ and His supremacy, precepts, and call!

God is calling you and me–those who lead and pastor churches, who influence people in the church, who sit on committees, teach, or the like to flee from manipulating and gossiping behind the scenes-to wake up and SEEK HIM, not ourselves or ideas or plans or trends!

Are we being “harlots” with His Church?

If so, stop, pray, and get right with God. If you can’t, then get out of leadership until you are right with God and His call and His precepts!

Keep in mind in this passage–it is a stern warning that sin will cause ruin. Their sins are piled high, and God wants to remove the sin. Instead of seeking God’s grace and mercy, they pile on more sin and seek the evils of pleasure without responsibility, which will bring them torment, sorrow, and extreme helplessness. Those who sought favor and wealth from sin will mourn, but those who are righteous will be joyful and jubilant. Those who trusted in luxury and splendor will mourn; those whose trust was/is in Christ will praise God. In a single moment, what they thought was important will be gone.

What really is important will remain and increase. God’s glory and eminence is steadfast and proclaimed; the hope of the faithful comes to its fruition!

 

Why are Christians so interested in chasing fads?

Read Revelation 17-18

Do you chase bad trends, sins, and the ways of the world? I know I have.

Another question we need to ask is to whom and/or what are we loyal–fads, trends, ideas, personalities or the precepts of Scripture and the glorification of Christ?

A fad many of us in ministry tend to chase is trends on how to lead and manage His Church. Sometimes, we glean new ideas on how to do things better. However, most of these are like chasing the harlot while ignoring the beckoning of Christ and His Way.

When trends move us away from the Cross to something else we become obsessed, like with building projects and forget to build up people in Discipleship. We like to get so creative with our messages, we end up not teaching anything effectual. We become so guarded with our pulpit, we do not allow other good communicators of the Gospel to expound on Scripture. We become so busy with programs that we forget what the programs are for.

We seek to water down His Holy Word to attract people just as the devil manipulates people to trick them to his ways while we are called to disciple, teach, and worship Christ as Lord, His Way. The harlot in Revelation represents evil and the manipulations of forcing and tricking people to compromise–forsaking faith to embrace the devil. Such groups in the early church and throughout history sought to hide God and prevent people from knowing about true salvation.

Paganism, godlessness, false religions, and manipulating religion for personal gain and false teachings are all extreme corruption and hiding of the real God in the shadow of man’s pride and corruption.

By the way, chasing bad trends and compromising the teaching of the Bible does the same thing! Consider this as a form of corruption that destroys everything as it prevents goodness, cooperation, and growth in your church. It tears down rather than builds up. It hides people for God’s Truth and stagnates discipleship and the glorification of our LORD!

Look at the definition of the harlot, read the passage, be in prayer and ask Christ, how am I doing?

All too often, and I have done this, we try to use it as an easy way to their goals, but it never works; rather, it causes breakdowns of self and society whereas Christ cleanses us with His blood and equips us with His Word to help build up the world. Thus, “building” is a primary theme of Christianity that creates community and cooperation with the goal of faith and the building of the Church. This is our call and duty and purpose as church leaders, to glorify our Lord, make disciples be loyal to Him and be for Him! The contrast is the devil, as well as misguided megalomaniac pseudo pastors, destroys and tricks people to think that self destruction, the poverty of personal faith, and the breakdown of societal development are good things!

Resembling Christ

As you go, preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 10:7 

A lot of Christians have the false presumption that discipling means we should make people like us or have them conform to our specific church, denomination, or system of belief. Some think the me in “follow me” refers to I and not Him, Christ as Lord. But, that is not what discipleship or “follow me” is about. Rather, it is about helping facilitate the spiritual growth of others. It is about being empowered by the Spirit to hook people up to Christ. It is like being plugged into His current of electricity.  

We are never to make disciples in our image, alike as who we are, or how we think, feel, or act, but like Christ. Christian means to be Christ-like, not self-like or Bob-like or Joan-like, nor is it meant to be a particular denomination or theological position.  

It is all about doing our best in resembling Christ. We are to become His disciples by our faith, by His work in us! We are then to be discipled by someone. This is not just learning about the faith as a new Christian; it is a life-long commitment to grow in Him through His Word, through our personal devotions, through fellowship, through worship, and by learning all we can, then applying what we have learned. This helps form us as the people of God. We are to disciple others so they can, in turn, disciple others. Thus, Christianity is by faith, it is communal, it is continual, and it is shared. It is a community endeavor. A lot of Christians just will not do this. Perhaps they are too individualistic—too self-absorbed in their own lives to give a thought to God or others. Perhaps, they think, once I made that prayer and I am set free, so I do not need to do anything else. And, yes, they are, if it is real and in Christ. But, what good it is to be a pew-sitter yet do nothing with what Christ gave and called us to?  

The twelve disciples spent three years of their lives following, learning, listening, observing, practicing, and experiencing life directly alongside Jesus. Then, they carried that learning and experience to the world, first as a rehearsal, then as a lifestyle. It all boils down to a decision. Will we make our faith real and impacting, relinquishing our pride, allowing ourselves to learn and grow, and, in turn, teaching others? Let us make sure our impact comes from a life transformed and carried out to the people around us. Let us follow Christ!

Spiritual Maturity and its Importance

We are called to spiritual growth—that is, the formation of the investment of faith Christ gives us that we give back to Him in dividends. This is a deep conviction of our faith, a practiced submission that shows our obedience, and a life of personal and relational maturity. We have to listen to God; if not, we will not learn and then we will not grow and then we will not have a life of transformation and growth. Instead, we experience a storm-tossed sea of life, wayward in every perspective because our eyes and ears are not upon our Lord (Hebrews chap 1-6; James 1).

Research Conducted between 1996 and 2010:

· Eighty-three percent (83%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said their people were content in their Christian faith.

· Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they had no regular or effective discipleship program or effort to mentor their people at their church.

· Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there was no primary teaching from the pulpit to challenge or deepen their people’s Christian formation (spiritual growth and biblical application) at their church.

· Seventy-eight percent (78%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they either are or will focus on new trends or ideas to try fix something they feel is not working right. Seventy percent (70%) stated this is where their primary time is spent, whereas only 22% of those sought answers for their church problems from God’s Word, good theological sources, or going to more trained and experienced pastors for advice.

· Sixty-nine percent (69%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 70% of their congregation members do not assess their spiritual journey or have a means to effectively examine their spiritual lives, such as a mentor or pastor to talk with.

· Sixty-eight percent (68%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 68% of their congregational members are not in an accountability or small group.

· Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there is no significant effort from the leadership to be devoted, as a church, to spiritual growth. Most think this is to be from the pulpit only and/or in the privacy of the member’s home.

· Sixty-two percent (62%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there was little to no effort in teaching spiritual maturity or Christian formation from the small groups, such as doctrine, prayer, and/or essentials of growing in Christ.

· Sixty-one percent (61%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that their duty as leaders was first to pursue their faith, or else placed it as a significant factor. 

© 2008, Research from 1996- 20107, , Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org

Research on Spiritual Maturity and its Importance

Research Conducted between 2002 and 2007:

We recently rested these statistics with no significant variation….so the same as today, no real improvements in the church today…

· Sixty-percent (60%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 60% of their congregational members do not have an accurate view of biblical truths.

· Sixty-percent (60%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 60% of their congregational members do not have an accurate view of their personal spiritual growth. They believe they are growing, but put little to no effort into their growth. Thus, their feelings are in contradiction to fact as perceived by the pastors.

· Fifty-six percent (56%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 60% of their congregational members consider themselves as conservative Christians but do not practice that in how they talk, behave, or vote in elections.

How sad it is when Christians go un-discipled because they do not think it is necessary or important or relevant—to miss the fact that Christ Himself tells us that the chief role and duty of a church is to train and disciple its people so they can know and grow in Christ and thus be an impact in the world. When we do not do this, we end up useless, as leftover crumbs under the feast table of the kingdom. Perhaps some milk has been drunk, but no meat, no impact, no worthiness of contact of our life in Him to our situation and opportunities, so we miss out on the marvels of being used in His kingdom (Matt. 28:11-20; 2 Cor. 5:20; Heb. 4:11).

Research from 1996- 2007, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org

Spiritual Maturity in Leadership is Essential!

The relationship of Law and Gospel, not understanding this will cause false teaching and or a weak church. If you do not get this, you do not belong in leadership. If you are not maturing in the faith, then do not be a leader.

 “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:…”

Philippians 2:5-11

Nothing is more distressing than a church filled with people who do not have respect for those who are in spiritual authority over them. Conversely, nothing is more discouraging to a congregation than immature and irresponsible spiritual leadership. Many churches move away from Christ and their call and thus go under every year mainly because of pride, arrogance, bitterness, envy, and strife, the opposites of what God calls us to–the opposites of maturity (Phil. 2:5-11).

Spiritual Maturity Builds Churches PIII

The Importance Of Our Motivation and Inspiration

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53: 12

I live in the Los Angeles area, the home of a basketball team called the “Lakers,” even though there is no lake. Anyway, they are one of the top teams in the league, with several championship wins, and usually have two or three exceptional star players. During the end of the regular season in 2004, the Lakers were losing. They had to win two very important games with teams I had never heard of (what can I say, I am just not much of a sports guy when it comes to “foreign” teams), or they would not be in the finals. Then, for the key game, one of their star players, Kobe Bryant, just did not show up. The team was down and unmotivated. Their coach, Phil Jackson, took the rest of the twelve players into the locker room and told them that each one of them had the capability to win. Together, they could win without that star player, or any star player. Then he told them, you have become lazy, relying on Kobe and Shaq and not stepping up yourselves. Then he said, “you all must step up and perform.” They went out, and won.

Do you “step up?” What motivates you in the Christian life?

What is your source of inspiration outside of the Scriptures? Do you just rely on others, or do you and can you “step up” in your faith, reaching out to others to win the game that Christ has put you in? The key to stepping up is motivation. Coach Jackson is a skilled motivator, which is why he has a lot of championship rings. We do not need the ring when we know who we are in Christ and when He is our motivation!

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Most of us will look to our creeds and confessions for motivation, and for good reason. But, I want to extend further into our personal responsibility. That is, how can we take our faith so seriously that it becomes more personal and real, and all our thoughts, ideas, directions, goals, and inspirations go in the direction of serving our Lord? How do we take our faith to a deeper level, “step up” so it is ours and personal, and not just because this is what our families are and do, and not just because we are part of a good church, school, or work? How do we “step up” so that our faith is solely because of what Christ has done for us and nothing else?

The key is in allowing the work of the Holy Spirit in us. However, we have a responsibility to respond, to grow, and to build on what we are given. It takes trust, faith, and the surrender of our will, our dreams, and our ideas over to the LORDSHIP of Christ. We must acknowledge that He is Lord of us because of His love for us, and that His ways are better than ours. Christ is our King; so, let us live our lives in response to what He has done for us!

© 1992, 2005, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org

Spiritual Maturity Builds Churches PII

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

One of the clearest evidences of being a mature Christian is the realization that the municipal center of the Christian life is Jesus Christ as our LORD. He seeks to bring us closer to Himself by His love, joy, and peace so that we may share His love with those around us. This is the key that conveys God’s purpose for His people and those around them.

Spiritual maturity involves an increased awareness and knowledge for the need to be in Christ, and not to be living just to oneself.

When we have an increased need that goes beyond our self, and beyond our self-confidence so our confidence is in our Lord and the Holy Spirit; then our self-confidence becomes rooted in and dependent on Christ working through us. We become Christ driven, not self-driven. As a result, our determination becomes more surrendered to God’s will as He becomes the driving force for our lives and existence. This means as we grow in Christ, we are surrendering more of our will, desires, and plans unto our Lord Jesus Christ.

As Christians, we see that we have purpose, direction, and our lives and ministries are filled with Christ’s power.

We will realize that we need mentorship and support from other mature believers. What does this look like? We will have a life that comes from the impact of the Spirit and the disciplines of the faith. As we learn, we grow; and as we grow, we engage in prayer, study, exercising our gifts, worship, love, and fellowship that draws us closer to God and others and that facilitates further spiritual formation. We will have a firm, forward, and moving commitment and trust in Christ’s work.