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Archive for June, 2011

Six Things We Must Get Right, or It’s All Over.


In the Lord’s work as in anything else in life, there are essentials and non-essentials.

There are the loadbearing features and cosmetic for-appearance-only aspects.

If we don’t know which is which, we’re in big trouble.

In the late 16th century, the mayor of Windsor engaged architect Christopher Wren to design and oversee the building of a town hall.

When it was completed, the mayor refused to pay the bill, insisting that it needed more than the few columns Wren had designed.

No matter that it was pointed out to him that the columns were holding up the building just fine.

He wanted more columns and would not pay until they were installed.

Christopher Wren had several more columns added to the building.

Each was identical to the first ones he had installed, with one exception.

Each lacked one inch going all the way to the ceiling.

Some of those columns were load-bearing and others were cosmetic.

It’s a wise church leader who knows which is which in the Lord’s work.

Here is my list of “six load-bearers,” six essentials which we must get right in the Lord’s work or it’s all over.

Please let me point out up front, these are not arranged in the order of priority.

This is to ward off letters I sometimes get from debaters and arguers that B is more important than A, that C should be higher.

I suggest, somewhat impishly, that he should have read the article more fully, because I said in the body that there was no particular order, that they are listed as they occurred to me.

Anyone who writes learns quickly that some people prefer to skip the reading of the material in order to get on with criticizing it.

1. SUBMISSION

“…be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)

“…Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account….” (Hebrews 13:17)

Yes, followers are to submit to leaders.

But — and pastors should not miss this — leaders are frequently to submit to their constituents.

To submit means that when you and I disagree, one of us willingly and freely gives in to the other.

No coercion, no pulling of rank, no holier-than-thou lording it over the other.

A pastor submits to his members when he has been severely hurt by something a member does, but when that member is in need, he shepherds and nurtures him/her as though he would rather do this than anything in the world.

A pastor submits to his members when he has a grand vision but he can see that they are not ready for this, that he has to drop back and scale down his approach.

A pastor submits to his members when he puts his personal plans on hold in order to act in the best interest of the Lord’s people.

In other places on this website, we’ve written of the Sons of Diotrephes (see III John), those leaders who refuse to submit to anyone or anything, and the trouble they can cause.

2. UNITY

“…being diligent to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

In the Garden, Jesus asked the Father, “That they all may be one… that the world may believe that Thou didst send me” (John 17:21).

When a church — much less the larger body of Christ! — is not unified, everything grinds to a halt.

Evangelism is forgotten, nothing gets done, members spend their time bickering and fighting, the godly among them are exasperated, the hurting and needy are neglected, the enemy rejoices, the devil has a field day, and the name of Jesus is blasphemed among the heathen.

When a church is unified and everything else is in order, the work goes more smoothly, people are ministered to, Christ is honored, God is exalted, and the enemy is defeated.

In deacon-training sessions, I remind these leaders that one of their prime functions is to preserve the unity of the congregation.

That means staying on the alert and dealing with dissension and rebellion when it occurs.

This principle (of deacons nipping rebellion in the bud) can be abused, of course.

There is a proper time and place for criticism of leaders.

It takes a Spirit-filled diaconate to know what time it is.

3. LEADERSHIP

“That the leaders led in Israel, and that the people volunteered, O bless the Lord!” (Judges 5:2)

Someone has to stand out front and say, “This is the way.”

When Joshua led Israel’s multitudes across the Jordan River, the priests went before them carrying the ark of the Lord.

According to the specifications God sent, they were to stay some 3,000 feet ahead of the people. This was so that every man, woman, and child could see them.

They were not to follow the persons in front of them like lemmings dropping off a cliff, but each was to keep his eyes on these holy men and to follow them.

As the priests approached the waters of the Jordan, they might have had a minor crisis of faith. The waters had not receded! Only when their feet hit the water, did the Jordan divide. (Joshua 3:4,15)

That’s the problem with being a leader: you have to lead.

Show me a church where the pastor is a follower, where he refuses to exercise courage and stand before the congregation and declare, “This is what God wants us to do,” and I will show you a church that is doing nothing.

4. FELLOWSHIP

“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)

Every once in a while, we will read where the members of Congress takes a break and all of them take a retreat.

The idea, we’re told, is for them to play games together, relax together, and get to now one another not as opponents but as the human beings they are.

By establishing such ties, they begin to respect each other more and work together better.

Fellowship is sometimes called “Body Life.” The idea is the members of the congregation know one another and work together, both formally and informally.

There are scheduled times for fellowship, such as a mission trip when members spend a week or more together.

Informal fellowship occurs when they sit in the bleachers and watch the church softball team play or enjoy an ice cream social after church.

In the first, they work together, in the second they hang out together.

Both are absolutely essential.

If a member of my body hurts, the rest of my body stays up all night out of sympathy. (See I Corinthians 12:12-31)

If disease or infection invades my body, the rest of the body sends resources to fight it.

It isn’t for nothing that Scriptures call the church “the body of Christ” (see Ephesians 1:23).

5. ACCOUNTABILITY

“So then, each one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).

“…and you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14).

A healthy church builds in proper accountability, both for the laity and the leadership.

Sunday School teachers must be accountable to leaders as to what they teach; otherwise, disaster looms.

The teacher who builds himself or herself a following — their own miniature congregation — from their class becomes a trouble for the church as a whole.

Financial workers must be subject to regular inspection and proper accountability.

Without it, no good thing will happen.

For that reason, systems should be installed for double checks and such workers should rotate often.

Pastors are accountable generally to every member and specifically to certain leaders in the church.

Whether it’s a formal group or an informal collection of the mature, no pastor should be allowed to spend freely and commit the church to projects without the support of the larger team of leaders.

If his preaching begins to be questionable, some group–preferably not an individual–has to be the proper ones to approach him on behalf of the congregation.

The church that does not have such a structure in place is asking for trouble.

6. PRAYER

“And He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to quit” (Luke 18:1)

Pray or quit.

Get the church to praying or forget about making any kind of decent impact on this world for Christ.

Enlist and train the members in prayer or mark the church off as existing in the flesh and insignificant in the work of the Kingdom.

“How is your church doing?” my friend asked a pastor.

“We’re on life support,” came the answer.”

“Oh? That bad?” The preacher said, “Far from bad, that’s the norm.

Every church worth the name is on life support — the ‘life’ being the Holy Spirit. Unplug the church from the power of the Spirit and it dies.”

How’s your church’s life support system?

Being retired from the pastorate, most Sundays I’m in a different church.

One of the first things I notice on entering a sanctuary is what we call the altar area.

Is it conducive to people coming and kneeling for prayer? Sometimes, that area is so cluttered with tables and chairs that anyone needing to kneel and pray is out of luck.

These are not the only essentials in the operation of the Lord’s church.

Each of us will have our own list.

These are mine.

By Joe McKeever.

At The Point Of Death.


By Vine.

Behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, came; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, and begged him much, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Please come and lay your hands on her, that she may be made healthy, and live.”Mark 5:22-23

There is nothing like trouble to drive people to Christ.

When things go well many people do not acknowledge Him; but when great need comes, He is the first one they turn to.

This is one of God‘s main uses of trouble.

God makes many of His children uncomfortable so that they will look to Him instead of being too self-reliant.

There are many in heaven now who would never have repented and been saved had God not sent trouble, sorrow, and difficulty.

This father in Mark said his daughter was “at the point of death.”

This is one point which we all must come to.

Our paths on Earth run many different ways but they all ultimately reach the “point of death.”

It is a point that lies hidden from view.

No one knows the day when he or she will come to it, and yet somewhere along the years it waits for everyone.

Sometimes this point is struck early in life.

Here it is a little twelve year old girl  that lies “at the point of death.”

Even children should think about dying, not as a sad and terrible thing, but as a point to which they must come, and for which they should prepare.

It is a touching sight to see this father falling at Christ’s feet.

The strongest men break down when their own children are sick or in danger.

A man may seem very strong as he works or goes about life.

You think he has no compassion in him.

But if one of his children becomes ill or injured that strong man will melt.

Behind his strong front there is a warm spot in his heart where he is gentle.

Apply This To Your Life Today… When has trouble or struggle led you back to reliance on God? How quickly do you fall away when life is easy? How do you remain reliant when life is going well?


Bible In A Year: June 30th…

By Book Old Testament New Testament Proverbs & Psalms
Psalm 131-135 2 Kings 1-2 Acts 20:1-38 Psalm 78:40-55

Why Bishop Eddie Long Should Be Transparent.


The church has had enough spin, denial and closed-door settlements.

Leaders must demonstrate humility and repentance.

A few years ago a minister in my city went through a divorce, and the messy details of the settlement between the pastor and his wife were reported in our newspaper.

But when the divorce was finalized there was no public statement.

The man’s wife disappeared from the stage, her photo vanished from the church website and nothing further was said. Zip. Nada. No comment.

The message: It’s none of your business what happened between the pastor and his wife. He’s the anointed messenger of God. Just follow him.

People who talk out of both sides of their mouths certainly cannot preach an uncompromised gospel. And liars cannot be trusted to give us the truth.”

Another pastor in my city stepped down from his pulpit briefly for unknown “indiscretions”—and then it became known that he had been carrying on an affair with a stripper from France.

The man never resigned from leadership, and his wife eventually divorced him.

Today, this preacher appears on Christian television, and he still has a following.

The message: Anointing is what’s important.

Character is secondary. If a guy can preach the paint off the walls and get everyone shouting, then relax—it really doesn’t matter how he runs his personal life.

Then last month, Bishop Eddie Long of Atlanta settled out of court with four young men who had accused him of using gifts, trips and jobs to entice them into sexual relationships.

The pastor of 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church told his congregation last fall that he would fight the charges.

But in late May, Long agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to the four men, and the terms of the agreement were sealed.

The church said in a statement that the settlement was engineered “to bring closure” and that the congregation will now “move forward with the plans God has for this ministry.”

The message: Case closed. We are never going to tell you what happened. It really doesn’t matter whether your pastor committed serious sins.

Is this how we’re supposed to run a church? I don’t think so.

Neither does Bishop Paul Morton, founder of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship and a former colleague of Eddie Long’s.

Morton rebuked Long in a recent sermon and demanded that he come clean about what happened with his accusers.

Morton aired his public message to Long on June 19, saying: “If you have repented, show me some signs.

Show me some humility.

You can’t just come and tell me nothing.

Tell me something.

Those who have stood with you, tell us something. Tell your church something.”

The issue at stake here is crucial: Should a pastor who falls into serious sin—or who is just accused of a serious sin—respond publicly and address the charges?.

Does he need to be open with his congregation? Or does the Bible give him immunity? Does his standing as a Christian leader give him permission to hide his faults from view?

In the squirrelly world of independent charismatic churches, where accountability is sometimes a dirty word, some pastors think their ability to make people shout and swoon on Sunday mornings gives them a Get Out of Jail Free card whenever they commit a heinous sin.

But I don’t see that concept in Scripture, especially when I read the Apostle Paul’s list of required qualities for church leaders in 1 Timothy 3. Notice these:

“An overseer must be … above reproach” (3:2, NASB). The King James Version translates this as “blameless.” That doesn’t mean leaders never sin.

But it means his or her record is important.

The Greek word is anepilemptos, which means “cannot be laid hold of; not open to censure.”

In other words, if a man bilked people out of thousands of dollars, he’s not qualified to be in ministry now because his reputation would bring a reproach on the gospel.

A Christian leader should not have a dark cloud of scandal hanging over his head.

“An overseer must be … the husband of one wife” (3:2). Christians have argued for years about whether this verse disqualifies people who have gone through a divorce.

Regardless of that aspect, most scholars agree that the sense of the phrase means “a one-woman man”—in other words, sexually pure. Church leaders should not be involved in adultery, fornication, homosexual affairs, perversion or sex with minors. Period.

“An overseer … must have a good reputation with those outside the church” (3:7). Again, the inference here is that a leader’s past is important.

If he is dragging the baggage of past marriages, children out of wedlock, rumored affairs or criminal activity, he has no business in the ministry unless those issues can be fully resolved.

“Deacons … must not be double-tongued” (3:8). While this qualification is mentioned for deacons in Paul’s list, I mention it here because we charismatics are the masters of spin.

“Double-tongued” comes from the Greek word dilogos, which means “saying one thing with one person and another thing to another, with the intent to deceive.”

Sound familiar? People who talk out of both sides of their mouths certainly cannot preach an uncompromised gospel.

And liars cannot be trusted to give us the truth.

God has abundant mercy and forgiveness for all of us when we fail Him.

But when a leader fails, he must walk through the humbling process of restoration—and this requires full confession, authentic repentance, willingness to accept discipline from others and the good sense to step out of the pulpit, when necessary, until he can be trusted again.

By J. Lee Grady.

Flax in the Flame.


This is a faithful saying, and worthy of acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

1 Timothy 1:15

Recommended Reading
Revelation 6:12-17

David Marks was born to godly Connecticut parents in 1805, and his awareness of God began early.

The incident that started him thinking about the Savior was when he saw some flax burn.

He had heard of the fires of hell; and as he watched the flax, he thought how dreadful one moment in hell would be.

He decided that if the Day of Judgment came, he would hide in the well.

Running to his mother, he shared his plan; but she replied, “Ah, my son, the water will boil and the earth will burn.”

He then told her he would run to a spot he knew in the rocks where he could hide. She said, “But the rocks will melt.”

Young David pondered at length the reality of that coming day. Putting his hand over his heart, he looked toward heaven and said, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

David recognized that he was not ready to stand before Holy God in his present state.

What a simple, yet profound reminder that only through His mercy are we rescued from the punishment that we deserve.

Are you ready?

The only passport we need to heaven is Jesus.
David Jeremiah

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Psalm 136:1-140:13

By David Jeremiah.

Reaching Our Children.


So many things define this generation but the one that stands out is loneliness; which runs deep.

They are home alone,; and are raised by their music, television, and video games.

They will do anything to get a loving feeling, even if only for one night.

A lot of what’s going on sexually isn’t about biology; it’s about feeling close to someone for a few minutes.

With today’s youth having so many labels placed on them such as “Generation X”, “The Lost Generation”, “Generation Me”, “ghetto”, “alley” and many more names; it has been said that the generations prior have dropped the ball and let our community down.

Yes, the ball has been dropped, but it is not our duty to ponder on who dropped it; it is our duty to pick it back up and run with it.

I don’t think that this generation is lost, but that the people who are trying to reach them are lost.

I say this because many don’t know how to minister to them.

We must minister to our children on their level and love them until they change.

So how do we reach our children today? How do we as parents and church family take back our youth from the streets, destruction, youth pregnancy and disease, disrespectfulness, promiscuity, and from the hands of Satan himself?

Here are a few things:

1. A sense of realness. Our children need to know that we too are real, struggle, and have been where they are.

2. Learn to listen. We have to listen so that we can find out where young people are today.

Don’t just speak to the head without addressing the heart.

3. Speak their language. Young people are interested to know if you can identify on their level and within their cultural framework, while not distorting God’s truth.

4. Just be yourself. Don’t think you have to be something you are not in order to reach youth. Let God’s truth, love and grace come through the personality He has gifted you with.
5. Pray. Prayerful people are able to minister to youth with the power of God’s hand upon them.

6. Speak life. Young people often think that life is pointless, has little meaning, and wonder why they are here.

We can’t approach them by saying words like you are worthless. We have to speak life.

7. Spend time. Children trust and open up when they have spent ample time with a person.

When you spend no time with them you will not have the key to their heart.

That’s why many say to children “why didn’t you tell me?” or “you know you can talk to me about anything”, but they never open up because you never spend time with them.

These are just a few things for thought that may help us reach our children. Always remember:

Scripture Of The Day: “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”1 Timothy 4:12 (NKJV)

By Pastor Marquis Boone.

Shielded With Favor.


For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield. —Psalm 5:12

Our righteousness is as filthy rags.

Right standing with God comes only through the blood of Christ and has nothing to do with our works; it is nothing we can earn.

We are made the righteousness of God, and we will never be more righteous than we are right now.

Being in right standing with God positions us for blessing.

We serve a “faith God.” His promises are “yes” and “amen” to those who believe, and He wants every believer to walk in those promises (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Because God wants to bless you, He will give you supernatural favor with all men.

God will cause your boss to give you a raise when he knows he can’t stand you.

He will cause the owner to sell you a house at a bargain price without knowing why.

He will even cause your enemies to bless you.

Because God rejoices as you come into His presence, you are wrapped in His blessing and favor—an impenetrable covering and shield of His loving grace and mercy.

God, release Your favor upon my life.

Cover me with Your blessing as I go out and come in.

Thank you, Jesus, for being my righteousness. Amen.

By ROD PARSLEY.

True Success.


Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. —1 Corinthians 9:19

To quote my friend Joseph Ton, “Success in the eyes of the world is how many servants you have.

Success in the eyes of Jesus is how many people you serve.”

God is looking for people who are willing to become servants, and we can expect that, like Jesus, we will be tested in that role to the extreme.

Yet it is a great faith-builder, for one who is willing to be subordinate, and all that that means, must rely increasingly on God’s faithfulness.

So we must ask ourselves how willing are we to go in pursuit of God’s standards rather than the world’s, which will always be the reverse.

Too often when we first come to God we are under the impression that God owes us something.

We think we have bargaining power with God to ask Him questions and make Him answer us.

Yet suddenly we begin to realize that we are nothing and that God owes us nothing.

He owes us, if anything, a place in hell.

It is at this point that we begin to say, “I subordinate myself to you.”

Everybody you meet thereafter will be your superior in some sense.

And this is why Paul said in Philippians 2, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (v. 4).

How humbling it is to accept authority from and be subordinate to one whom you think is less capable or qualified than you! How humiliating!

Yet the beginning of greatness is accepting authority.

When the disciples asked for preferment, Jesus did not rebuke them.

He just reversed the roles: let the greatest among you be the servant of the rest.

This is just what Jesus did in His own life: He “emptied himself” and became a servant.

What we must ask ourselves, therefore, is to what extent will the marks of the bond servant, which characterized Jesus’ life, be ours?

Excerpted from Meekness and Majesty (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1992, 2000).

By R.T.KENDALL.

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