Monday starts a new way of life for me. I need to make some serious decisions if I want to be a dad that is here for my child. I am not going to do anything drastic. I am just going to swap out some foods and exercise more. I worked out on the Body For Life program a few years ago and I lost about 30 pounds. I was on a good track but I got hit with MRSA. I could not workout because the doctor told me not to go to the gym and I did not want to spread the infection to anyone else. So, even after the infection was gone, I became lazy. I lost the drive to go back to the gym and continue working out. I have no idea what happened. I have to make a change. My lovely wife gave me a bicycle for my birthday and I plan to make that part of my workout routine. White foods, processed foods, and enriched foods are out of the menu. Sweet potatoes will take the place of normal Russet potatoes, fries, and tater tots. I have to cut back on soda. Three or more cans a day will not help me even though I drink diet soda. Bands and weights will accompany cardio and walking over 10,000 steps a day. Fast food, pie and ice cream does not have to go away completely but I also cannot use them as part of the staple menu. They will be ok on occasion but not three or four times a week. Determination and endurance will overcome the part of me that refuses to get off the couch. Ed Stetzer has inspired me as he has lost over 100 pounds. The Biggest Loser TV show also inspires me. The funny thing is that I know what to do, I just do not implement it into my life. I am not applying what I know to my life. Hmmmm……That sounds like a lot of people that call themselves disciples of Christ and yet they do not live out the Scripture. They are hearers of the Word but not doers of the Word, James 1:22-24. That sounds like an interesting topic to discuss but that will be a different post at another time.
Mark Driscoll, in one of his RE:LIT books titled On Church Leadership, talks about just that, Church Leadership. It is a biblical look at Church Leadership structure wrapped in a package that one can read in about an hour. The book shows that Christ is the chief Shepherd and the Pastor is the undershepherd. Christ is the head of the church, not the Pastor or Deacons or Board. The book also explains that one does not have to be ordained to be a Pastor or Elder but must show evidence that he is called by God to proclaim the Gospel. Driscoll also talks about the role of women within the church and talks about women in leadership roles. The book’s appendix includes a copy of the covenant that Mars Hill church uses for its members. The book even discusses the church’s role in biblical church discipline. Regardless of whether the church is a new church plant or one that has been in existence for 100 years, this book is a great guideline on Biblical church leadership.
Domestic violence is a serious issue. The violent attacks are usually by men towards women. This issue is not stereotypical to only one type of lifestyle. Domestic violence can occur whether the people involved are rich or poor. Domestic violence also can take place among men in all careers such as police officer, pastor, construction worker, fire fighter. Religion is not a factor because domestic violence can occur whether the people are Christian or non-Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or any other religion.
It is possible that a boy grew up in a home and watched his father demonstrate this violent behavior. Watching the father repeatedly commit such actions could cause unpleasant memories to plant themselves within the child’s mind. As the child grows up, he begins to desire a relationship with the opposite sex. Considering that all relationships occasionally have disagreements, this could be a bad situation for that boy in a romantic relationship. Domestic violence does not always occur with grown men. This violence also occurs with teenagers. A young adult that has anger issues and has not been taught how to properly deal with such anger will eventually explode into a verbal typhoon of words or lash out like a cobra spitting its venom.
This writer believes that the main reason domestic violence exists is because men grow up not learning the proper way to deal with anger. Why do young adults and men get angry so quickly? Why is there a lack of self control? Why do men seem to wear their emotions on their sleeves? What are these men afraid of? Anger is usually not the first emotion one experiences. Anger is almost always a byproduct of fear. James 1:19-20 says, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”1 Abuse, both verbal and physical, will do great damage to any relationship. A man that is often violent towards his wife or girlfriend needs Christian counseling. A cell in a prison may give the man time to think about his actions but it does not deal with the underlying root of anger that is ruling his life. Only Christ can deal with such anger. If a man allows Christ to fully become Lord in his life, great change will take place. Christ can change the man’s desires. Anger does not have to be the main response. Whatever fear is in the man’s life can be replaced by putting his full trust in Christ.
Domestic violence could be curbed from the beginning of a person’s life. If parents would properly teach their children how to deal with fear, anger, and pent up frustration, these children may not tend to lash out so quickly. Ultimately, domestic violence is a result of sin. People at their very core are selfish, evil, and do not seek after God. While this is true, it is no excuse. Every man, woman and child are responsible for the decisions they make. Blaming someone else never solves the issue inside a person. A life centered on Christ is the only solution.
There are a multitude of sins that are covered by preaching from the pulpit. Pornography is usually not one of them. Pornography is the taboo topic, the ugly duckling, the black sheep, the secret sin within the church. Why is this sin overlooked? Is it socially acceptable in the church? No. Is it possible that this is not talked about in church because most pastors also struggle with this dangerous lust? Pornography is the drug of the church. It will grab a person with its jaws and bite down until all the life of that person has been destroyed.
Pornography can be defeated within the church. Accountability standards must be brought back to our churches among both men and women. Pornography affects both men and women. It messes with your thoughts and your heart. Romans 8:6 says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”1 The writer recently preached a message to college students with the title, “Dirty Little Secrets.” The writer, looking for illustrations for the message, searched on Google. The statistics that he found are horrifying. The one that stood out the most to him is how much money the pornography industry makes.
People at their very core are evil. If one truly took the time to search their soul they would find how wicked the flesh is and why it is important that every person finds forgiveness in Christ. People that attend church have become good at playing church. People are good at faking their way through a church service. People seem to no longer be bothered by conviction from the Holy Spirit. They will come to church and stay for the service as long as they can beat the crowd to lunch and still make it home in time for the football game to start. Has the church all but forgotten God? Why do people even attend church if they have no desire to apply what they have learned from the pastor’s message? The church is so concerned with missions and doing ministry in the community that we have forgotten about the body of Christ.
The subject of pornography must be addressed in our churches. This writer believes that you cannot expect lost people to come to Christ until the church is right with God. This includes the men of the church confessing sin, taking the reins of leadership and actually leading; whether it is in ministry or their own home, and stepping up to tell the world about Jesus. It is common knowledge that men do not like having the world know what goes on behind closed doors but unless the men of the church will become repentant, nothing will change.
Men must be told the truth of Scripture. Jesus said in Matthew 6:28-29, “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”2 Lust, uncontrolled, will seek out that which it wants to devour. The reason the pornography industry is a billion dollar a year industry is because of the lustful appetites of men. Men will feed that which aims to kill them for a moment of instant gratification. Men will try to justify their lust but their excuses always let the responsibility for their evil habits fall on someone else’s shoulders. A man’s selfish desires combined with pornography has been known to cause the man to lose his job, lose his friends, lose his family and in some cases drive him to commit suicide.
Accountability must be reintroduced within our churches. Men in the church must know they are nothing apart from Christ. They cannot and should not live life alone. Our churches should pray for men’s souls to be revived. The men in the churches have to get to a point where they are broken and humble before they can expect God to use them. This writer is praying for men to step up and lead, put down what is selfish and trivial, confess all sins of omission and commission, die to their self and learn what it means to take up their cross and truly follow Christ. Pornography is like any other sin and it can be beat. Men and women both need to fix their eyes on Christ. When their eyes are fixed on Christ, it is hard to be distracted. If the men of the church would cry out to God, God would hear and heal our churches.
I was not sure that I was going to enjoy this class or learn much from it. I was not really looking forward to taking the class. That all changed. I enjoyed the discussion boards and reading the book. I tell my college students that I am a “book junkie” because I enjoy reading so much. I have always tried to piece together how the church changed so drastically from the time Paul wrote his last letter to Timothy to the Catholic church. Reading the text, Christianity Through The Centuries, helped me learn what I did not know. Even a few years after Jesus died, different false teachers started rising up to challenge that Jesus was really who he claimed to be. That is probably one of the reasons that some of the letters of Paul and John had a slight slant towards apologetics. I lean toward the belief that the Catholic church is a form of false prophet. The text says that when Innocent III became pope, he believed that he was the “vicar of God.” The text also says that the Catholic church believes that the pope stands above man and below God. What kind of nonsense is that? The pope is just as much a sinner as any other human being. He needs forgiveness just like everyone else. The thing that bothers me the most is how the Catholic church leads people astray. On page 276 of our text, it says, “Indulgences were associated with the sacrament of penance. After one had repented of sin and had confessed it, one was assured of absolution by the priest, provided satisfaction was made. It was thought that the guilt of sin and eternal punishment for sin were forgiven by God but that there was a temporal satisfaction that the repentant sinner must fulfill either in this life or in purgatory. This satisfaction might be a pilgrimage to a shrine, a payment of money to a church, or some meritorious deed. The indulgence was a document that one could buy for a sum of money and that would free him from the temporal penalty of sin.” Seriously? This is the kind of garbage that Christians should get ticked at. People that believe that kind of garbage are being led astray. The Catholic church today continues to lead people astray. I have never looked at the Catholic Bible but I am sure it is pretty different if compared with a Christian translation. I thank God for people like Martin Luther and John Calvin who got so fed up with the church that they tried to reform it back to the true Scriptures and wanted to see the church be run biblically. I have never understood why people in the Catholic church settle for the trash they are fed. Why do these people settle to believe that another human being can forgive sins on behalf of God? This to me is harder to believe then to believe Jesus came down from heaven, grew into a man and died on a cross for our sins. This is why evangelism is so important. People need to know the truth. I cannot force anyone to believe contrary to what they believe, but I can present them with an alternative viewpoint based on the truth of Scripture.
This class has brought more to my viewpoint of how to do ministry than I thought it would. I try to use what I learn in all my classes to use in my college ministry. The text shows how the church becomes twisted and starts to teach false doctrine. It is amazing to see that the truth of Scripture survived all that and is still thriving today. As one reads the text, they can slowly begin to see how God worked throughout history for the truth of the gospel to survive. This is much encouragement for me or anyone in ministry. God will work out his plan with us or in spite of us. Job tells God, “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42.2). I am encouraged that God is all sovereign and he will stand beside me in my endeavor as long as I walk in obedience to him and do what he has called me to do. I have struggled to understand why it is so hard to find a ministry position that will help me pay the bills so my wife can come home when our baby is born. I know now that God will lead and guide us and show us the way to go when he is ready to reveal that to us. Until then, I am going to stay planted doing college ministry at our church. I am not always patient but I look forward with anticipation at what God is going to do next.
Many disciples get to a place in their ministry and wonder “What’s next?” People have a tendency to overlook how well their house is and look at their neighbor’s house to see if the grass is truly greener. The danger in this comparison is that people start to focus on where their neighbor is and not focus on God. This writer’s story has a chapter of struggle that may resonate with many people. His struggle is in the area of contentment. The writer has a struggle between where he thinks he should be and where he really is. He is 34 years old and runs the college ministry at his church. He knows that God has called him to bigger and better things but he does not currently know what those things are. The writer has a calling to be a pastor and right now he is the pastor to college students. He has not been able to find a job in ministry because most churches want the applicant to be ordained or have a Master’s degree or both. The writer does not understand why he is not ordained and does not understand why he cannot even find an entrance to any church. He is also struggling with the fact that the college pastor position is not a paid staff position. The writer just recently found out that his wife is going to have a baby. This is a need for more income. The writer has been turned down from some secular jobs and over-qualified for others. He ponders all of this in his head and keeps coming back to Scripture. He is drawn to Philippians 4:11-13 for it says, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”1 God is going to get the glory always, no matter what happens in this writer’s life. What the writer has to understand is not what the next step is in his life but more importantly, how can God be most glorified in his life and ministry as long as he remains in his current position? As easy as this is to realize, it is a little more difficult to apply. The flesh puts up a fight and the spirit is forced to fight back. Dying to one’s self and one’s own desires is probably one of if not the most difficult thing that Jesus asked His disciples to do. It is possible that God could be testing the writer’s obedience. The test could be that God will not reveal to the writer what the next step is until the writer finds contentment where he is. The writer also must realize that contentment in his current ministry position is also shown by his enjoyment of his Heavenly Father. Contentment is not complacency, it is obedience.
by Ernest V. Liddle
Preaching Magazine http://www.preaching.com
There is a dire need in today’s churches for the preachers to become praying preachers. Prayer will help the preachers to unlock the resources of heaven and become channels of blessing. Liddle says, “Preachers must have a vivid knowledge of the Holy One. That is discovered ‘in the shelter of the Most High,’ and ‘under the shadow of the Almighty.’ Psalm 91.1.” A preacher that seeks holiness must also desire solitude. Spending alone time with Jesus will help develop the preacher’s prayer life. Jesus, as our example, often went somewhere by himself to pray. Prayer should be done in an attitude of worship. Liddle says that after we seek God through prayer a joyous presence will envelope the preacher throughout the remainder of the day. Preachers that position themselves in a way that they will likely be distracted are less likely to hear from God. When going before God, preachers should not be the only one to speak. Sometimes they should just sit still and listen to what God has to say. Liddle believes that preachers should follow the prayer life of Jesus and Elijah. Jesus often went to the mountains to pray and have night-long conversations with God. Elijah also had an awesome relationship with God. During Elijah’s forty day and forty night journey to Horeb, the Mountain of God, he enjoyed companionship and fellowship with God. Having such a good relationship with God allowed Elijah to confront the prophets of Baal and challenge King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. When Elijah received death threats, God protected him. Liddle goes on to say that few people have ever had the kind of relationship with God that Elijah had. Elijah was intimate with God. Elijah knew what it was like to live in God’s presence and walk with Him. This could be the reason that Elijah was so bold and confident. He did all that God had called him to do and when his time on Earth was complete, God did not let him die but took him in a chariot of fire. The book of James references Elijah in chapter 5 by saying, “the prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective.” Elijah’s prayers were not redundant or full of meaningless words. Elijah did not waste his time or God’s time in prayer. Liddle explains that Elijah’s prayers are what made him such a dynamic prophet. Liddle tells preachers that God does not speak through tornadoes and earthquakes but through the inner sanctum of our being in a whisper. Preachers should seek out the quiet place with God where they can be alone with Him. Preachers must be committed to spending time alone with God. It will take discipline and sacrifice. Spending quality time with God means that we spend less time thinking of the temporal things of this world and set our mind on eternal things. Liddle closes by urging us to be a praying preacher.
This article hit me right in the face. You might call this a wake up call. I thought that I spent time alone with God. Then I realized how I could better prioritize my time to be able to spend more time alone with God. I understand now by the story of Elijah how much better my relationship with God could be. I should pray more and more often. I should pray more for my wife and our unborn child, I should pray for my pastor, and I should pray for my college students and their walk with Christ. Also, I should pray for myself a little more than I do. I should pray for my continual obedience to God and that when I preach, I preach in a way that is effective to the listeners and honors God at the same time. I should pray that I true to the Scriptures and that I preach them in an expository way. I do not believe that people give prayer much credit. Prayer is much more than saying the blessing over food or something you do with your child before bedtime. Prayer is powerful and meaningful communication with the Heavenly Father. My relationship could be better. I am now committed to more of a sacrifice and discipline so that I may be spend more time learning and hearing what God has to say to me.