Who is Greater in your Church?

 John 13 15-17

 

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:15-17

 

 

Jesus clearly tells us what a leader is and how one should act and work.

Have you ever seen problems in a church because leaders’ even pastors make mistakes at the expense of their congregation because they did not undergo enough training beforehand?

How would you feel if Jesus stole your presumptions and false ideas, and replaced it with His Truth and the real intention that God has for you? Consider comfort and compliancy versus Ephesians 5:14 and the call to wake up.

How can we make sure that our ministry is not about what we want, but rather about following Christ as a showcase for others to see and follow? What can you do to make this happen?

The word “Servants” referred to slaves or hired workers. They were much like the butlers and maids we have today, except they were usually “owned” by another person. The point here is that even though there were different types of slaves and servants, Jesus is referring to where the authority lies, which is always with the master; the servant exercises his authority through the master’s authority as a representative and thus servants are subordinate to him. In context, this is a reminder to never forget who you are, a child bought and redeemed by Christ. Do not take yourself so seriously; instead, take Him seriously (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 6:9; Phil. 2:7-8; Col. 3:11; 4:1).

 

Jesus clearly tells us what a leader is and how one should act and work. It is not about pride or power or control; it is about being a servant.

A pastor or a Christian leader must not be in leadership just to command or be in charge for any reason beside how do I teach and exhibit Christ and what is the best way for me to do this? Leadership must not be to satisfy one’s pride or desires, or for personal gain. Rather, we are to point others in His direction by our example. If pointing to Christ is not our goal or purpose, then we are in the wrong position. We must exit the church as fast as possible, drop to our knees, repent, and get right before God before reentering.

 

Leadership is all about Christ, not us or even our vision; it is purely and plainly how do I glorify and serve.

Just look how our LORD God, the Creator and Sustainer did. Jesus took a towel and washed His disciples’ feet. This can be an act we can simply use for a “Maundy Thursday” service (a “foot washing” reflection before Easter) and never give it much more thought. It is something where we may act more like Judas or Peter, missing its significance and refusing to apply it to our hearts, minds, and mission. If God, Creator of the universe, performed the lowest job in that culture-washing feet-then who am I to think I am better? Jesus is our example; we are never to think too highly of ourselves or buy into our own propaganda to perform tasks we are called and made for. 

Church leadership is not about a mission; rather, it is who the Mission is for and how He has called us to be within it. Our servant attitude is imperative!

 God desires to bestow upon us a significant favor and grace! The stipulation to this is we must be faithful to His Lordship! We do serve “the God who blesses us”-to be deeply happy and content because we are enjoying God and His special favor. There is a direct correlation between following Christ and receiving His blessedness and contentment, and following ourselves, pride, and evil to be self-destructive and miserable (Deut. 27:11-28:6; Jer. 1:11-12; Ezek. 36:24-27; Mic. 1:10-15; Matt. 5:3-11; John 3; 7:37-39; 1 Peter 1: 3-12).

 

Be blessed!

 

Church, come near to God!

come near

 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” James 4:7-9

A healthy church is one that is filled with His presence, is motivated to serve Him, and has a love for “one another.”

It is about the Lordship and supremacy of Christ. A healthy church is not about gaining numbers, or even great programs, services, location, facilities, amenities, conveniences or even theology (as long as it is biblical). A healthy church is purposely directed to glorify Christ and Him alone. It is a place where people are growing in Him and allowing His impact to invade their will and desires so the Fruit of the Spirit flows into His Church and His people.

We are called to come near to God as a church. So why do we forget and not hear this vital call?

It has been my observation that the causes of marriage failure are the same as with church failure. The two relationships have the same parameters for what works and what destroys. The church is a community of relationships, with one another, with the world, and most importantly, with our Lord. That sometimes forget what it is all about.

The process begins with love and excitement for the ministry, the new birth to the new Christian, or the new church start for the seasoned Christian. It can happen being in a healthy church, or being in a non-healthy church, never having experienced anything else. But, at some point, the committed Christian who has received the faith of our Lord, trades in that first love for a “lemon” of sin. Somehow, the love and passion slowly dwindle away as other things creep their way into the place of that excitement. And these “things” are the diseases of apathy, gossip, pride, legalism, slander, the list can go on and on. These form the relationship killers of bitterness, criticism, condescending attitudes, defensiveness, and withdrawal.

These are the sins that take the joy away from others; it is, in fact, stealing from God Himself.

These were not the precepts that the church was founded upon; these diseases were not in the vision of her planters, just as the divorce court was not on the wedding planner of the couple getting married. Yet, it happened, and it keeps happening.

We may have started to come near to God, and we received the promise that He will come near to you, but we decided to engage in a process that caused us to let go of what we had. We have let the double-minded mindset take over the plan and purpose that God gave us. We must recapture the call of that first love, with all of the excitement and vigor, for our Lord.

We must humble our pride before it is too late. God is not the One who always holds us back; it is usually our refusal to reach out for the faith He has given us and build it up so we can seize the opportunities He gives. It is we who refuse to exercise our faith and grow.

 

Being Loyal to Christ and His Bride

Read Revelation 17-18

What is the Bride?

As we know, the “Bride” is the Church. This is Christ’s identification with His people and an image of our Redeemer’s intimacy and the community between God and His children.

This is beyond a mere metaphor as it is about the life, love, and joy that a first century marriage celebration represented that Christ shares with us and calls us to share with one another in our covenant of Grace.

And in Revelation, this is also a contrast to the divorce of the harlot and a stern warning to John’s people in his church, to not to cheat on our Lord by way of our pride, false worship, false teaching, or our apathy or arrogance, or anything that gets in the way of us pointing His Bride to the Redeemer (Ex. 22:16; Is. 54:5-7; Hos. 2:19-20; Matt. 9:15; 22:2; John 2:1-3; 3:29; 22:2-14; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-32; Heb. 2:5; 6:5; 1 John 1:3-10; Rev. 19:7; 21:1-8 ).

The passage goes on to say that evil is judged and condemned while true spirituality in Christ is eternally rewarded and beneficial. This is also about our own vindication, and all the benefits we have when we are in Christ. We are a part of His Kingdom that is being showcased in this passage, so we who are in Christ can sing a loud and clear Hallelujah!

The imagery of Rome in this passage is “Babylon” and may be referring to the persecution and martyrdom the early Christians faced in life under Rome, perhaps as illustration for some of us and reality to many others today and the principle point to his churches. In addition, this is a template for how evil and its power operates in the past, present, as well as in the future. This is about how pastors and church leaders go wrong by chasing themselves and not Christ. This is about how evil does not always know it is evil, because it is blinded by pride and self will, in the church and in society. This is also leading to its future–its self-destruction.

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?

Rome gave away food to appease its citizens while they enticed them with sins and heinous amusements of people being slaughtered in arenas. Placating to Rome gave one privileges; standing up to it gave one death or the loss of land and rights. The issue before the Church was compromise and loyalty–would their allegiance be to a prostitute Rome, to Christ, or to what?

Some theologians have suggested that “Babylon” referred to apostate Jerusalem, but there is little Jewish evidence for that. Jerusalem has already fallen. Also, the principle arguments against Jerusalem as the subject matter of this passage is that it does not sit on many waters nor did it reign over other nations at this time!

The bottom line for us in church leadership is, how is evil affecting and effecting your ministry, your vision, you perceptions and your church?

Our Lord is the head of His Church

Read Colossians 1:15-23, then pray how do you point to Christ, before you lead your church!

The chief characteristic of who we are in Christ is the fact He is the living Supreme God who has existed for all time, who transcends space, time and thought, who knows us intimately, and who loves us. Christ is Lord; Christ is Supreme! Christ is the tangible aspect of God who is beyond sight and comprehension. He is the God who created the universe, who made all things. He made all that we see, and all that we do not see! He is the God who created the molecules of substance, formed the ground on which we stand and the wood on which He was crucified. In all of life, in whatever we will face and know, He has gone and still goes before and with us. This world was created by Christ and for Christ; He is indeed supreme. We need to learn to live our lives in Him for His glory. In so doing, we will be much better as stewards of His Church. Church life is not about our ideas, presumptions, or expectations—it is about Him as LORD! When we finally achieve this mindset, we begin our journey of growing in faith, maturity, character, and becoming more content in life and of better use to Christ and others around us. This is realized when we see the hope we have in Him, and allow that hope to be a foundation; He will carry is through all things.

What does this Colossians passage have to do with the responsibility of the church? A lot! This passage is about reconciliation, and the church’s responsibility is to mirror the character of God who reconciled us to Him!

Christ has and is revealing the invisible God to us, and we cannot and must not look for God anywhere else. If we look for God in ourselves or anywhere else in the world, we will fail as a church and as believers. This is because the church is the body of Christ, and as believers we are to believe. We are to follow and lead as examples, surrendering to His Lordship and not our own.

One of the big issues and problems is that most Christians just do not get this passage. Our Lord is the head of His Church, including our church, yet our churches are run as if we were in total control and we reign supreme. As far as the responsibility of the church goes, what more can we say, other than Christ is the head and our lead, thus the vision and call can only come from Him and not of ourselves and our effort. If Christ is our “all in all” then we must respond to His teachings as marching orders and not a list of suggestions or ideas. We are to see and know Him as our Creator and Lord, as our Redeemer and Savior, as our God. Then we can respond as the church that our Lord died for.

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.

Spiritual Maturity Builds Churches PI

What does it Mean to be a Mature Christian?

What are you willing to do to become one? If you have spent any significant time in the Christian faith, you will have observed that all of us are not on the same playing field of faith and maturity. We Christians have all had different experiences in life, different reactions to those experiences, and different ways of understanding and applying our faith to those situations. These experiences and the decisions we make concerning them all converge to shape us into who we are today and who we will be tomorrow. Coupled with this is the work of the Holy Spirit, guiding and molding us, seeking to penetrate the barriers of our stubborn pride and will. The Holy Spirit does not, although He certainly is able to, overwrite us. He works within us as a gentle change agent, a voice of meekness (as strength under control), desiring us to respond to our life’s circumstances with character and maturity.

Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Psalm 119:89-90

Growing in faith encompasses more than just asking Christ into our lives and hearts, and goes far beyond baptism or our church membership. It means being a disciple.

Discipleship goes further than our conversion, our acceptance of Christ as Savior, our election, or any initiation we could conceive of into the Christian life. Why is that? Because our initiation is extended by Christ, and is only the beginning. The first step we take, receiving Him by faith through His Grace, is the entrance into the faith and Christian life. Accepting our election in Christ is not the only act of being a Christian! Yet, so many live their lives as if this were so.

It would be like joining a ritzy, fancy, exclusive club, but never venturing into that club. Therefore, we would never use the exercise equipment, never swim in the pool, never play on the golf course, never rest in the steam room or partake of the networking, fellowship, and the fun.

We would never go to the parties or the dining, and would miss the connections because we never attended. Thus, we would get virtually nothing out of it, except the satisfaction that we had joined. The only prestige we would have is the membership card on our dresser. It is the same with becoming a Christian. We might join the ultimate “club,” but never use it or let it help develop our connections and depth with God and others. Yes, we may be saved, but if all the opportunities have been set aside, forgotten, and missed, oh, how sad that would be. Perhaps, you think all you have to do is be baptized as a public initiation, profession, or dedication, and then sit yourself in a pew of compliance and comfort, thinking, I did my part; the rest is up to others. Acceptance of what Christ has done is to be the door through which we walk in faith, as is our public profession or testimony of our faith. It does not stop there. It starts there! Why talk more on this? If we do not “get” this, we will never develop our net to be used for fishing because we will not have the materials to do so.