Pointing the People to Christ

pointing to Christ

 

“… That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:29-30 Continue reading

Reverence in Leadership PIII

Reverence in LeadershipBut to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 

Reverence is about submitting to the Supremacy, Sufficiency, and Centrality of Christ as LORD!

In the universe and in the Church, Christ is Creator and God, He is superior over any idea, philosophy, religion, or mysticism. He is over trends, traditions, and even the Jewish laws that pointed to Him. No one can gain salvation or fullness without Jesus Christ, so why even try? How dare anyone foolishly mislead others with false truths or legalism away from the Truth to seek his own over Him. Thus, we must yield ourselves to what the Church is about, how we are to run and grow our church, so we can be our best for His glory and our opportunities (Matt. 5:13; 2 Cor. 2:15; Phil. 1:27; Col.1: 18; 3:11).

How do I know if I am reverencing Christ properly?

Are we robbing God of the opportunities He tries to give us? Do we mix them up with habits, pride, and traditions?

Do we make grandstand pretenses, showing off our faith while we have a heart full of soot?

Do our attitudes, desires, and passions line up with the precepts of His Word, or express our own selfish agendas?

Perhaps you are thinking that this is about passion. Well, this is paramount, but it has to be grounded in God’s truth, not the ideas and desires of man. We must seek initiative and inspiration from Christ, not from traditions.

What can I do to be better at reverence? Do not practice your faith or lead your church through the filter of traditions or habits. Rather, filter faith through the clarity of God’s Word! Prayer will help us navigate through what is selfish and not right to what is of God and is His plan. It is all about being conformed to Him, not to our ideas or desires.

Think about those times of trouble and stress. How is Jesus your source, substance, and Truth in the good and bad times? How must He be for you to not just survive, but to thrive?

We have to reach out to Him; let Christ grasp you so you are not seeing just the sea of what is in it for me. Or be consumed by problems and the ocean of deluge overtaking the ship of your faith and composure in Him. Yes, this is tough; we all deal with this–certainly I do, even now… I want what I want. When times are confusing and we can’t see where we are going or where God wants us, something to consider and pray about is this.

But take this to heart. God is far more concerned about how we are than what we do or where we go. Our lives are a process and a journey, as is our church. Our Lord’s mission is to transform our hearts and minds, the very core of who we are, so that we can live in the Kingdom of God–a Kingdom with His values and purpose, regardless of any opposition we might have, including the opposition others give us. Then, we can lead others properly with a reverence to His Lordship. We especially need Christ in the dire times of life–the times when we have the best opportunities to learn and grow.

So, if you are stuck in your faith or in the spiritual formation of our church, or moving people where they really need to go. Usually, it is our own opposition that hinders us the greatest and is evidenced by our fears and neglect or lack of active faith.

We have to realize that pleasing ourselves (as so many of us pursue) is not the goal of the Christian life either or how we build a church. Rather, we are to follow Christ and be imitators of His character, letting it transform our character. We are to do this through love and the acceptance of others as Christ did with us, even though we did not deserve it.

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?

What is a Harlot? Hopefully not you and your church!!

 

Read Revelation 17-18

Harlot? Yes, there are far better ways to make a point than to use the word “harlot’. But this is how God used to get people’s attention; does he have your attention? However we may feel, this is the word God uses, and it may wake us up to our dysfunction and the predicament we have in how we lead and manage churches these days.

If not, if we dare to go to our pulpits, boardrooms, small groups, classes and families with what I want to say and ignore Him, we are in fact being disloyal. If we dare teach what is false, give only half truths and merely feel good messages, like “sermonettes for Christianettes ,” we are in fact being prostituting His Word and Truth.

Let’s look at this upfront, close and personal. Let us be challenged with the Word of God and be humble to see what we may be doing wrong.

First off, do you know what a harlot is? Also called whore, it is not a fun, happy word. You might even be offended by the use of this word. It is from the Greek word, “porne,” from whence comes the English word “pornography.” It means promoting and/or partaking in the grievous sin of fornication that hurts, steals, and destroys relationships and families. But, it means so much more (Lev. 17:7; Is. 1:21; 26:16-18; 57:3; Jer. 3:1-14; Ezek. Chaps 16 & 23; Hos. 4:15).

This is an image used in the Old Testament to mean the abandonment of one’s covenant to God or the unfaithfulness and faithlessness of Israel. Also, this means the seductions of the world and that we have to be on guard as Christians, so they do not corrupt us or the church we are called to steward. This is also about people being lured into sin, yet knowing it is sin and being able to resist even as people seek to disobey God and/or to serve evil–like deliberately teaching what is false when we have God’s Word right in front of us for correction. And, this word applies to how we lead and manage His church. Remember, Revelation is a book to churches first, how to lead, be loyal, handle persecutions and so forth.

In the very early church, when John was penning these words from God, there was trouble, struggle and conflict–just like we have in today’s churches, in your church, in my church, the struggle of loyalty to self and trends or loyalty to Christ as LORD.

This is all about betraying God by committing not only acts of immorality, but disrespecting His Word and ignoring or failing to teach and pass on His precepts-the prime responsibility of a church leader and pastor.

The majority of people in John’s day had no reservations or protests to following an evil empire and being used by them. Their belief was that one has a license to sin; thus, one does not need to be obedient to God, His precepts, civil law, or any moral standards, and many Christians felt as they do today, they do not have a need to bear fruit. God says this is evil as it portrays evil as being good. This can also be practicing and promoting trends that dilute God’s truth, using it as an excuse for extreme immorality and wickedness (Judges 17:6; Jer. 2:31-37; Rom. 6:1-2; 14-15; 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14; 6:2; Gal. 5:22-25; James 2: 14-26; Jude 4; Rev. 2:20).

The point? This means to choose sin is a deliberate choice, one that God hates passionately. Or use the pulpit for personal gain, false teaching, amusing the goats and not feeding the sheep. Harlot was also a term used by the early church for Rome (Lev. 17:7; Is. 1:21; 26:16-18; 57:3; Jer. 3:1-14; Ezek. Chaps 16& 23; Hos. 4:15).

These people thought they did not need Christ and that they would escape the judgment of God! (Does the deceptive thinking sound familiar?) Such people and thinking is contemptible and self destructive, because nothing can challenge God.

Are you being “harlot” with His Church?

 

Read Revelation 17-18, and forget about the end times nonsense theories and be in prayer and ask God if this is you…. And if you will not then you have a bigger problem, pride….

To see if my premise is correct, let’s take a look at this passage in Revelation–a passage that a lot of misguided Bible teachers use to amuse and shift the meaning away from the truth and point of it.

The theme is this great ‘harlot’ blasphemes God and puts her trust in materialism and immorality and leads others to do so, too. In so doing, she is not ashamed, but rather boisterous and proud of sin.

Our first thought on this, well, that will happen in the last days, I do not need to fret. I certainly do not do that! But, we need to pray and think this through. Perhaps it is so. Read the passage, and seek Christ in humility, is there an application, am I being loyal to Christ or to myself and trends that would ashamed our Lord?

What is going on with the Revelation 17-18 passage?

John is clearly writing to the seven real churches and, consequently, to people in extreme hard times, then being persecuted by Rome. He was dealing with infighting, disloyalty, false teachers, church members being cut off from their families, social circles, and trade guilds so they could not work, this, starving out his people and preventing them from functioning and others forms of persecution. The main enemy from outside of the church was Rome. It was a blood-thirsty, pagan empire that oppressed its people, especially Christians, who were considered criminals and slaves and used for sadistic entertainment. Rome was extremely corrupt and fell because of it.

Yet, the enemy from within, which was even more dangerous, was false teaching and being treacherous to Christ by distorting His precepts and call.

Look at it this way. If you want your church healthy and lined up to God’s call, commands and precepts, you have to be loyal! That means being trustworthy, faithful and devoted to Christ as LORD and His Truth! That means more than just placing Him first or ignoring the relativisms in our society.

It means a defining quality that I am fully engaged to be in Christ, to follow Christ and lead others to Christ.

In contrast, if we are not loyal; then, we are betraying. As a pastor, my first and foremost job is to point people to The Shepherd. So, the point of this message is simple. We have to recover our churches from the desires of what I want, from the false trends, away from betrayal of Christ’s Lordship, to turn back to the true Truth of Scripture that glorifies Christ as LORD!

 

From our research we are seeing that, we got trouble in our churches–a lack of loyalty. A tough question needs to be asked of ourselves, are we being “harlots” with His Church?

Is your Church pointing to Christ or to something else?

We got trouble in our churches–a lack of loyalty. A tough question needs to be asked of ourselves, are we being “harlots” with His Church? 

Read Revelation 17-18

Yes, there are far better ways to make a point than to use the “harlot’. However, this is the word God uses, and it may wake us up to our dysfunction and the predicament we have in how we lead and manage churches these days.

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! The problem is, many of us are doing the opposite!

The main prostitution we should worry about as Christians is Church Leadership falling to pride, apostasy, and the ways of the world versus faithfulness to Christ! 

So, how is your loyalty to Christ?  

Here is a simple test to see if you or the pastor is loyal is this.  Does the teaching and character point to Christ or point to themselves or something else?  Does the first response and vision showcase the Lordship of Christ or the way I want things? What does Christ call us to do and what betrays Him?

  • Is our church about a personality or a Person?
  • This is about who you pledge your life to.  Is it to your own pride? Or, is it to His Church and the glorification of Christ?
  • Or, do you chase bad trends, sins, and the ways of the world?
  • Are you so concerned with your way of doing things that His Way is pushed aside or skewed? 

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 replace discipleship with entertainment and lead others to do so, too.  In so doing, she is not ashamed, but rather boisterous and proud of sin. 

Why is this so important?  

Our loyalty helps us lead the life that bears the life of Jesus, the character of Jesus and the theme of what it means to be a real authentic effectual Christ like Christian. This is the essential mark, the most important thing we can accomplish in our life, to be Fruitful, to be faithful and be His and act like it. This means to allow the Holy Spirit to nourish and energize us, to speak to us and work in and through us.  

Do you want to be safe and adequate or powerful and used in ministry and life?   Really think about this.  We do not have to lead the Christian life as a Christian.  We can peach merely feel good messages do not instruct or edify.  

We can be bullies in the boardroom or apathetic and uncaring and even obtuse to our families–frankly, most of us are.  We don’t live with Fruits of the Spirit. As a pastor, may I say honestly, very few Christians do.  Few pastors do. I met very few real Christ-like fruitful pastors in my thirty plus years in ministry. This is sad.  Most of us just do not get it.  We live our lives to ourselves.  It may not be outright sin, but it is placing our desires first, and we do not want to learn and grow. We do not what to be convicted and grow beyond where we are.  

Most pastors do very little time to build their spiritual life. That is why the cheap messages that tickle our ears and move our emotions are so popular—more popular than the meat of the Word of God.  It is why so many of us stopped growing so we stopped teaching.  We created congregations who want to be told, we are OK, we want to hear encouragements and feel good stories, and we do not want to be taught the true Truth of Scripture so we can be used to further renew and transform the people in our care by the example and flow the Fruit of the Spirit.  

The main call for us is to heed Christ’s love, grace, and call, and that any evil power–past, present, or future–is not to be feared by us Christians!

The phrase, God has put it in their hearts, refers that He is still in control.  Even when the world seems to be in chaos and discord, He is there with us, ever faithful and still in charge.  Our duty and call is to fix our eyes on Christ, not on the troubles.  This is the key to dealing with suffering and when life does not seem to make sense. The answer is not making up our own Gospel or changing His Message to our own (2 Cor. 4:18; Heb. 12:1-3). 

Do not refuse God.  Teach, preach, be loyal, be fruitful, be faithful, be real for Christ and live it out.  By our example, we are used for His glory, giving people known and unknown to us a chance to repent and be saved. 

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! 

More here: http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/?articleid=84331&columnid=4544