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Posts tagged ‘Apollos’

Respond to Your Call to Influence.


 

group of women
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The church has not always recognized the spiritual gifts of women. But God has fashioned them to be key players in His kingdom.

Let’s imagine for a moment what the world would be like without women. All the wonderful traits women are capable of providing with exuberance—gentleness, nurture, care, refined beauty—would be missing.

Men possess these same qualities but in smaller supply; women, on the other hand, overflow with them. Without women the world would look like an army base where everything’s painted white or gray and designed for efficiency at the expense of beauty. An awful sense of incompleteness would permeate the planet.

Women have many qualities unique to their gender, one of the grandest being the ability to host life. This privilege to shelter another life at such an intimate level has been granted exclusively to Eve and her daughters.

Women can nurture their newborns through the most intimate interaction between a female adult and a child: breastfeeding. The image of a baby being nursed by a loving mother is a picture of total dependency, perfect care and the most sublime transfer of nurture from one being to another.

Women are also the ones who predominantly shape the character of their children during their crucial early years. They plant tender gestures in the inner layer of a child’s malleable soul and watch as, like the seeds in a flowerbed, the spiritual seeds sprout, spreading beauty over the adult landscape in the form of noble deeds.

When were the seeds planted? During the nurturing years when a child spends most of his time with a woman: his mother!

Jesus’ First Teacher
It was a woman, young Mary, who first heard beating within her the heart of God Incarnate when she was pregnant with Jesus. It was her hands that first touched Jesus’ body and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.

Think for a moment what this reflects: God Almighty, Creator and Preserver of the universe, took the form of a baby and became dependent on the care of one of His creatures. When God experienced human flesh, with all its limitations, who was there to meet His needs? A woman.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, was His first teacher and also later His first disciple. No other human knew Jesus as intimately as Mary did.

Ponder for a moment the scene at Calvary. While most of Jesus’ frightened disciples hid at a distance, Mary and a group of faithful women gathered at the foot of the cross. Despite the pain and suffering Jesus endured, His last earthly concern was for a woman—His mother.

He could not forget that she had taken care of Him when His earthly life began. And now, as His life was about to end, Jesus lovingly turned her over to the care of His beloved disciple (see John 19:26-27).

Women’s Hall of Fame
Throughout the Bible are inspiring testimonies of other brave and brilliant women who were not mere privates in God’s army but key players who were given pivotal assignments at strategic points and in crucial times.

Moses’ mother challenged the pharaoh’s genocidal decree when she preserved the life of the one who would eventually lead millions of Hebrews to freedom (see Ex. 2).

Rahab held the keys to the taking of Jericho. By turning them in the right direction she assured the fall of the fortress city (see Josh. 2).

Hannah cried out to God for Samuel to be born, and he went on to become the greatest prophet and judge Israel ever knew (see 1 Sam. 1).

Deborah was an illustrious judge and a proven prophetess who delivered Israel from the mighty chariots of Jabin, the oppressing king of Canaan. Another woman, Jael, helped to bring total destruction to Jabin and his leading general, Sisera (see Judges 4-5).

Esther courageously risked her life to save her nation, God’s people, when they were in danger of being exterminated.

Sarah was called “mother of nations” by God Himself (see Gen. 17:16) and is listed among the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.

Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, instructed and guided Apollos, who had been preaching less-than-perfect theology (see Acts 18: 24-26). The fact that in most tranlations, Priscilla is listed first in this passage signifies the prominence of her role.

On the shoulders of these women—and countless more down through the ages—rested the fate of cities, tribes and nations.

Pillars of the Early Church
One of the main reasons Christianity spread so rapidly in the early years is because its message restored honor and self-worth to half the world’s population: women. Romans had such a low view of women that some men engaged in sex with other men. Jewish rabbis completely silenced women inside the synagogue, and pagans used them as temple prostitutes.

However, early church leaders dignified women by teaching that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” and we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28, NKJV). Women were also given positions of honor and leadership.

Priscilla, for instance, was part of the team that founded the church in Ephesus—site of the greatest power encounter recorded in the book of Acts. She was there, inside the crux of God’s power, when God dethroned Artemis and brought down the demonic socioeconomic structure that had controlled Ephesus.

Throughout the epistles women are unapologetically exalted as pillars of the faith. Paul identified two women as the headwaters of Timothy’s faith: his mother and his grandmother (see 2 Tim. 1:5). In Romans, a letter intended for wide circulation and public reading, Paul praised several women as people of faith and proven ministry (see Rom. 16:1-15).

The first European convert was a woman, Lydia, and hers was the first household to be baptized (see Acts 16:14-15). She was very assertive in her interaction with the apostles: “She begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us” (v. 15).

Three centuries later, the driving force behind Constantine’s conversion and the subsequent Christianization of the Roman Empire was another woman, Helena, the emperor’s mother.

Extraordinary Sensitivity
Women have an extraordinary sensitivity to spiritual things. I am not saying that they are more godly than men, but I believe they are definitely more spiritual. This is why Jesus was able to reveal two of the most powerful truths in the gospels to women.

He told Martha that He is the resurrection and the life (see John 11:25-27). To the Samaritan woman Jesus explained that He is the living water (see John 4:7-15). These women were in a state of confusion when Jesus found them, but both were able to hear, understand and believe these profound truths.

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Aaron Crumbey: Stop Doing God’s Job.


Youth ministry

Are you allowing God to do His job or are you trying to do it?

I don’t know about you, but when I think about ministry in the New Year, I think about setting goals. I want ministry moving forward and so I think about what that looks like.

I think about the problem areas of ministry and how I can make it better in the New Year. I think about the students who struggled last year in their faith and the ones who decided this God thing wasn’t for them. I think about what programs or resources we need to add to help these students.

And if I’m not careful, I can easily become the downfall of my efforts in the New Year. An important passage of scripture we must remember in ministry is 1 Corinthians 3:6-7:

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.”

If we are not careful in our thinking, we can quickly become the solution. Our programs and resources no longer point to salvation, but becomes salvation for people. And we have to remember that God uses what we do for His glory not our own. So that is why we must not get to caught up in what we can provide over who we are pointing students to.

  • Stop Doing God’s Job. I would keep 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 visible so you can stop trying to do work that’s way above your pay grade. Trying to do God’s job in the lives of students will discourage you quicker than anything else. If their life change depends on you, it will be short lived. Stay in your lane. So no matter what 2013 looked like for your ministry, the only question that is relevant is did you point students to Christ? I totally understand the fact that we have to do our do diligence and checklist of how we can do things better, save money and stuff like that, but at the end of the day if you can honestly say that your ministry pointed students to Christ you’ve done your part. We must remember that we are not responsible for life change, that’s God’s job and it’s more important then what we do.
  • Think Preparation. Our job is to be prepared for the life change God brings. I had to change my thinking on how I was going to get students to retain their faith, think different, evangelize, grow in their faith, love God, love others or grow a heart for serving. I’ve changed my thinking to how can we be prepared so when God does something in their heart towards these things we are ready to help them with what God has awakened in their spirits to do. Example: If a student hears a message on serving and God does something in their hearts to serve I want to be ready to help them carry it out. Example: Maybe a student hears a message on growing in their faith, well I need to think how can I help them grow whether it’s with a program or resource. This is how we should think and this is our job. We are not responsible for stirring/changing/increasing/convicting the hearts of students. We plant, help, encourage, act. God’s job is much more important. If we are honest, sometimes we can really feel like since what we are doing is for God it is just as important. And we may not say that with our words but we definitely say it with our actions. Here is one question to ask yourself to figure out if this is true for you or not. How much time to do you give to prayer for the ministry vs. meetings for and about the ministry? If God’s job is more important, then He needs to be highly communicated with because His involvement is crucial and more important then anything we do at any given time.
  • Beware Of Discouragement. I can tell you that it’s not easy because you can become discouraged when a student doesn’t get it, and falls prey to a scheme or trick of the enemy, and not follow what you’re teaching or trying to show them. I have to be reminded myself that it’s not my efforts but it’s the God I serve that changes lives in His timing and in the way He sees fit.
  • Be Encouraged. The God of the universe is on our side and is close to us. Be encouraged that you get to point students to a God that never fails, never sleeps and will never forsake them. Be encouraged that He allows you to be apart of the life changing process, but most importantly be encouraged because you can rely on Him even with the part He’s entrusted to you.

I pray it encourages you to think differently in 2014. What would you add to the list in light of 1 Corinthians 3:6-7?

Written by Aaron Crumbey

Aaron Crumbey oversees pastoral care for the high school ministry at Saddleback Church. He cares deeply about sharing Christ with students and seeing them reach their full potential in Christ. He’s married with three children, loves family time, sports, movies and all things musical among some other things. He also runs http://www.yoacblog.com.

For the original article, visit morethandodgeball.com.

This Year Grow Through Prayer (1 of 4).


Series: A New Year of Growth

Matthew 6

INTRODUCTION: Years ago archeologists found a seed inside a 5000 year-old petrified canoe on the banks of the Nile River in Egypt. They took that seed, planted it in the dirt, set it in the sun and watered it and within a few days they had a delicate pink lotus blossom. The seed that went to sleep when the pharaohs did was alive. Botanists can describe, document and film that seed coming to life but they can’t explain how it happens. They can’t explain how that mysterious spark of life that has lain dormant in that seed for all of those centuries is suddenly stirred. It is God who makes things grow. God makes plants grow from seeds to flower to fruit.

Paul drew an analogy between plant growth and church growth in I Corinthians 4:6 “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” He went on to say that it is God “who makes things grow” (Vs.7). But we have to do our part. We have to put ourselves in a position where God’s seed can be planted in our hearts, watered, fertilized, and warmed by the sun so that God can do His thing.

ILLUSTRATION: A man walked up to a vending machine, put in a coin, pressed the buttons labeled, “coffee, double cream, and sugar.” No cup appeared but the nozzles went into action sending forth coffee, cream and sugar. After the proper amounts had gone down the drain, the machine turned off. The man said, “Now that’s real automation. This thing even DRINKS it for you.” That’s how some people want their faith. They want to make a deposit, put in some money and let the rest be taken care of automatically. But there is no such thing as automated growth and blessing.

A relationship with God requires the effort of personal discipline.

Are you content with your spiritual progress over the last year? Are you satisfied that the fruit of the spirit have ripened to full maturity in your life? On a scale of one to ten, how do you rate your experience of each of the following: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self-control? Did you get straight 10’s? I didn’t. If you’re like me, the biggest room in your house is the “room for improvement.” And if you’re like me, then this next sermon series is for you.

The Bible teaches that there are certain actions that we can take that put us in a POSITION to grow. There are things that WE can do to “prepare the soil” for growth. In this series I want to talk about four of those actions. You may already be doing some of them or all of them. In fact, I’m sure that many of you are, and if so, God bless you. This series will simply reinforce your efforts. If you’re not committed to doing all four of these actions then let me encourage you to get on board. We have great momentum in this church and I believe it’s the direct result of God blessing the people who have committed to these four actions. The best …

By Steve Jones

Suicide Bombers Attack Worship Service in Jos, Nigeria.


suicide bomber
A survivor of a bomb blast at a church rests on a hospital bed in Nigeria’s central city of Jos on Feb. 26, 2012. A suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into a church in the Nigerian city of Jos on Sunday, killing two people and wounding 38. (Reuters/Stringer)

Two suicide bombers from the Boko Haram Islamist sect drove a car laden with bombs into the worship service of a Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) congregation here this morning, killing at least one Christian girl and injuring dozens of other church members, sources said.

A man claiming to be a spokesman for Boko Haram reportedly claimed responsibility for the blast. The two suicide bombers broke through a security barrier at the gate of the church building at 7:20 a.m., a church leader said.

“When the bombs went off, I saw the dead body of one girl and four other members of our church who were injured,” said Yakubu Dutse, director of finance at COCIN headquarters, which is located in the same building.

Dutse said one of the bombers was shot dead and one was injured by soldiers posted as security guards before the bombs went off, killing the second assailant as well.

“When they were stopped at the gate of the church, they refused to stop, hence the soldiers posted to the church shot at the car,” he said.

Church member Felix Apollos rushed to the scene of the attack minutes after the bombs went off; he told Compass that he saw the bodies of five people killed in the attack, but the identities of the dead were yet to be confirmed at press time. At least 38 people were reportedly injured in the blast.

“I saw some Red Cross personnel moving both the dead and the injured into ambulances,” Apollos said. “I saw five dead bodies and about seven injured Christians being moved into vehicles. But then the number of the injured may be higher than this, as there were already some injured that were taken to the hospital before I got here.”

Apollos said members of a security force manning the church gate tried to stop the assailants, but soldiers also guarding the church ordered them to allow the bombers onto the premises.

“Just when the bombers got onto the church premises, they crashed into the church building,” Apollos told Compass.

The COCIN church holds two worship services on Sunday mornings, one at 7 and one at 10. The second service was cancelled, as were most church services throughout Jos.

The car used in the attack was blown to pieces, and seven other cars were also destroyed.

Boko Haram, the name given to the Islamic extremist group officially called Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad–“The People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad” – seeks to impose a strict version of shariah (Islamic law) on Nigeria. The name Boko Haram translates loosely as “Western education is forbidden.”

Nigeria’s population of more than 158.2 million is divided between Christians, who make up 51.3 percent of the population and live mainly in the south, and Muslims, who account for 45 percent of the population and live mainly in the north. The percentages may be less, however, as those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World.

Jos, often described as a religious fault line between the north and the south, has been the site of numerous large-scale and isolated incidents of violence containing a religious component.

COCIN is one of the largest evangelical Christian denominations in Nigeria, with a large concentration in northern Nigeria. COCIN was established in Nigeria in 1904 by the Sudan United Mission by the leadership of Dr. Karl Kunn.

A number of COCIN congregations and other churches have come under attack by Boko Haram recently in northern Nigeria. In Borno state last year, the Rev. David Usman of the COCIN church in Maiduguri was murdered by Boko Haram. The denomination’s church buildings in Geidam, Damaturu, and Potiskum, all in Yobe state, also have been bombed.

COCIN church members have also been attacked in Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro Local Government Areas of Bauchi state. Early morning attacks in Tafawa Balewa, on Jan. 22 left at least seven Christians dead and a church building destroyed. The attack on the Evangelical Church Winning All Church 2, residents of Tafawa Balewa said, was carried out by area Islamic extremists alongside members of the Boko Haram sect, with the church building and surrounding houses bombed.

Suspected Islamic extremists detonated a bomb outside a church building in Suleja, Niger state, on Feb. 19, two months after Boko Haram Islamists killed 44 Christians and blinded seven in a church bombing in nearby Madalla. The Feb. 19 blast injured at five Christians.

By Compass Direct News.

LEADERS IN THE EARLY CHURCH.


Women have always been active in public ministry.
On the pages of the New Testament we find mention of many who filled positions of leadership in the first century church.
Acts 2:19 mentions the four virgin daughters of Philip the evangelist as prophetesses who lived in his home at Caesarea, where Paul and his associates visited during his third missionary journey.
Priscilla, or Prisca, and her husband Aquilla, were known as fellow-laborers in Christ with the apostle Paul.
Their expertise as teachers enabled them to explain the way of God more accurately to Apollos of Alexandria, another important leader of the early church (Acts 18:25-26). 

Another associate of Paul’s, Lydia, a seller of purple dye, opened her home for ministry (Acts 16:40), as did many other Christian women in the Roman empire, including the “elect lady” to whom John addressed his second epistle.

Close examination of 2 John would suggest that she was functioning in a pastoral capacity, as would also have been the case for Lydia (Acts 16:40)(Acts 16:40), Nympha (Colossians 4:15), and Chloe (I Corinthians 1:11).
Phoebe was a leader of the Church at Cenchrea. In Romans 16:1,2, Paul commanded the members of the church at Rome to receive her as such, and to help her in whatever manner she requested.
Paul also mentions that Andronicus and Junia were outstanding among the apostles (Romans 16:7), and there is little doubt that Junia was a feminine name.
Both John Chrysostom and Jerome made reference to her as a woman apostle, and no commentator referred to her as a man until the late thirteenth century.

By Shant Atashian.

WOMEN AS MINISTERS (1).


How does all of this lead up to women ministers?

Perhaps you are thinking that although we have laid a biblical foundation for “neither male nor female” in Christ, certain verses in the New Testament still seem to ban women from ministry positions in the church.

Let’s examine these verses for the true interpretation.

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law” (1 Corinthians 14:34).

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:11-12).

In these verses, Paul cannot be addressing women who were in the ministry, but rather those in the congregation who were out of order.

How do we know this?

We have many such proofs, many from Paul himself.

Here is a partial list of women who were all in influential positions of leadership in the early church.

Pheobe (Romans 16:1-2): This woman was a deaconess of the church in Cenchrea, who was beloved of Paul and many other Christians for the help she gave to them.

She filled an important position of leadership.

It would be a difficult stretch of the imagination to say that this woman fulfilled her duties without ever speaking in the church!

Priscilla (Acts 18:26): Priscilla and her husband Aquila are often mentioned with great respect by Paul.

Together they were pastors of a church in Ephesus, and were responsible for teaching the full gospel to Apollos.

We are informed that they both taught Apollos, and pastored the church together.

In fact, Priscilla is sometimes listed ahead of Aquila when their names come up.

This has led some to speculate that of the two, she was the primary teacher and her husband oversaw the ministry.

At any rate, we see here a woman in a very prominent position of teaching and pastoring.

(Other references to Priscilla and Aquila are Acts 18:2, 18; Romans 16:3, and I Corinthians 16:19).

Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3): Here we see reference to two women who were “true yokefellow” and who labored with Paul in the advancement of the gospel.

Junia (Romans 16:7): In this verse we see Paul sending greetings to Andronicus and Junia, his “fellow-prisoners” who are of note among the apostles.

Junia is a woman’s name.

In some modern translations, an “s” has been added (Junias) because the translators were so sure a woman could not be an apostle, that they assumed a copyist has accidentally dropped the “s.” However the proper male ending would have been “ius,” not “ias.” No church commentator earlier than the Middle Ages questioned that Junia was both a woman and an apostle.

Though there were other women throughout the Bible in positions of leadership, such as prophetesses, evangelists, judges, leaders, etc., the above references should be enough to establish that women were indeed a vital and normal part of church leadership.

Paul expected women to speak in the church, or else why would he have given the following directive?

It would have been useless to give directions for women who were speaking in the church, if they were never allowed to do so.

1 Corinthians 11:5, “But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.”

Furthermore, if Paul believed that all women should never teach or speak in church, why does he commend many women who did just that?

With all this in mind, what then do we make of the troubling verses that command women to be silent in the churches?

First of all, we must interpret those verses in light of what we have just established–that there were women in leadership positions of the church.

Obviously, Paul is not writing to them. He is must be addressing another issue entirely–the women who were loud and unruly during the service, causing disorder and confusion..

When he wrote the Corinthians, he was dealing with a church that was very disorderly in their services.

Much of the letter was spent correcting excesses and abuses.

Some of these pertained to women in particular and some were to the entire church.

Paul is not being prejudiced against women when he instructs the Corinthian women to keep silence.

In the early church the seating arrangement was quite different from our modern day churches.

Men were seated on one side of the church while the women and children were seated on the opposite side.

This is still practiced in many cultures today.

By Shant Atashian.

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