Tag Archives: religion

Something Beautiful I learned about God.

          I love how God reveals Himself to His children. He knows just how to speak to us in a way that is so personal and intimate that it makes us fall that much more in love with Him.

          While listening to a minister teach on the fall of man, the minister made reference to Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve heard God walking in the garden and hid themselves. He went through the questions that God was asking in verses 9-13, “Where are you Adam?” “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” “What have you done?” The minister then made this statement, Of course God knew the answers to these questions, He knows everything. He was saying this for Adam’s sake.”

          Right after the minister spoke those words, the Lord spoke to me and said, “I don’t always use My foreknowledge.” I must say, that shocked me. However, I knew it was the Lord. I recalled in Genesis 22 how Abraham took his son Isaac to the top of the mountain to sacrifice him and the angel of the Lord stopped him and said, “now I know that you fear God.”

          Instead of using His foreknowledge. God, FATHER God, will choose the wonderful discovery process of relationship over His foreknowledge every time. He loves the spontaneity, the anticipation, the surprises of growing in intimacy with His children. Then He spoke this to me,

I gave man his creativity so I could be surprised at how he loves Me with it.”

We truly are here for His good pleasure. I am thinking of how many times God has surprised me and my family. Now I’m thinking about how I can surprise Him.

I’ve been crying for three days!

JC

Truth about the Rapture

           Let me first say, I am not attacking any person or ministry I am attacking what I now believe to be a false doctrine that is popular in many Church circles.

          My hope is that this will enlighten folks to the truth before it is too late. My own church teaches a pre-trib rapture and I may get some heat for posting this but I am not afraid to challenge teaching that I believe is hurting the ones I love. So, he who has ears to hear, let him hear.

          As far as I can tell there are only four passages in the bible that teach us plainly, openly, and directly about the rapture so I am only going to use those four.

        The first of these passages is found in Mathew 24.

Now, this is Jesus talking. Red letters in my Bible. I think He is the highest authority qualified to teach about the rapture. Pay attention to the text.

Matthew 24:29-31

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

          Look at the opening phrase of verse 29. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…”  Jesus is speaking to His disciples, and the Church, about what we will experience and go through before we (the Elect) are gathered from the four winds, or as we like to call it, “raptured.”

          Just to make sure we understand what Jesus is referring to when He said, “the tribulation of those days,” we will read everything in chapter 24 leading up to verse 29 so we are clear on what tribulation Jesus is talking about.

Matthew 24:3-28

As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. 15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

          I am not sure that I could help by elaborating on the stark clarity of the above text. However, I will make a few comments. In verse 15. The abomination of desolation spoken by Daniel standing in the holy place. This I believe is an obvious reference to the antichrist and his actions after his rise to power. After his rise to power, vs, 21 says there will be great tribulation, and those days being shortened for the elect’s sake. False prophets trying to lead astray the Elect. This sounds like tribulation to me. I know some pre trib doctrine say that the “elect” are the 144 thousand, and that is true but it is also the church He is talking about the ones chosen for the high honor of living in this extraordinary time.

Lets look at the other verses.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (Note: according to Paul, the “the coming of our Lord, our being gathered to Him, and the day of the Lord” are the same day.)

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.  (Note: We are going to see this great falling away and the Anti-Christ and his abomination of desolation with our eyes!) Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

          These last two passages speak about a trumpet blast but 1 Corinthians makes it clear WHAT trumpet. Is it the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11? Or is the trump of God different than the seven trumpets in Revelation like many of the pre-trib doctrines try to explain away? It is The LAST trumpet! Meaning there will be NO OTHER TRUMPETS AFTER THIS ONE. PERIOD! So, this is CLEARLY the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11. If it is not, then the trumpet would have to come after the seventh trumpet or it would not be THE LAST.

        To even start believing in this foolishness we first had to learn it from another man. Maybe a father or a pastor, or some teacher we trust, we just didn’t learn it from the bible. No matter what theological gymnastics we use we can’t get around this being the Last Trumpet. We can use other

passages of the Bible to imply or infer a pre trib rapture, we can even try and project or convey our interpretation of prophecy onto these text, BUT WE WILL NOT FIND IT IN ANY TEXT!

Here is a letter from Corrie Ten Boom. I think she is uniquely qualified to comment on tribulation and persecution.

Corrie Ten Boom’s Letter

          In 1974 Corrie Ten Boom wrote a letter to warn Christians about the false teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture.

          This is a portion of that letter. If you would like to read the entire letter click here: (Corrie Ten Boom’s letter of warning)

 “There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution.

In China, the Christians were told, “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly,

“We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution, rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes, to stand and not faint.”

I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it. We are next.

Since I have already gone through prison for Jesus’ sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think, “Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation.” Then I write it down and learn it by heart.

When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other up by saying, “Nothing could be any worse than today.” But we would find the next day was even worse. During this time a Bible verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy.

If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. (1 Peter 4:14-15)

I found myself saying, “Hallelujah! Because I am suffering (for the name of Christ), Jesus is glorified!”

In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation”, but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.”

JC

Why is it Hard to Read the Bible?

          Have you noticed that reading the Bible is actually harder than reading a secular book or magazine? I have picked up a good fiction novel and finished it within a day or two many times. In fact, I have read Christian books about the Bible and have been able to cruise through most of them in a short time as well. However, when I pick up the Bible and determine to read say…5 chapters, by the time I am done (if I finish) I am exhausted! Why is that!?

          When asking the Lord about this He gave me some real insight as to why this happens and I want to share.

          First off, the Bible is a LIVING book! God’s Word is ALIVE and ACTIVE, it is full of GRACE and TRUTH!

HEBREWS 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

          Anytime we are exposed to the living Word of God it requires spiritual and physical effort. The impact of truth on the carnal man cause the fallen nature to DIE! Your carnal man does not want to die so the flesh resists even opening the Bible, let alone reading multiple chapters.

Consider this passage of scripture in light of these thoughts:

Exodus 33:20-23 But He (GOD) said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 “So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 “Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.

 Understand that reading God’s Word is your carnal man’s FACE to FACE encounter with God! To truly die to self you MUST have constant exposure to His Word.

GALATIANS 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

          If you maintain a disciplined approach to reading and studying your Bible you will be successful in “Dying to Self.” This is a core message of the Gospel and without the old man dying, you will never experience the fullness of the new man in Christ.

COLOSSIANS 3:10 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

EPHESIANS 4:21-24 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

  • Is the Bible harder to read than other books? YES!
  • Is it more beneficial than any other book? YES!
  • Is it spiritual food and nourishment for us? YES!
  • Is it required to live a successful Christian life? YES!

          So be encouraged! The Bible is just as difficult to read for others as it is for you. So discipline yourself to have DAILY exposure to, and INTAKE of God’s Word and put to death that nasty old flesh so the NEW MAN, CHRIST, may live in and through you in fullness!

JC

Watch! …and Pray

The Ministry Of Goodness

The Ministry of Goodness

            I am in tears as I write this because the Lord has taught me something that has changed my perspective on everything and everyone. This simple thing, if you apply it to your relationships, will change the hearts of those around you. It is the ministry of goodness.

What is goodness according to the Bible?

Goodness – The state or quality of being good. Moral excellence; virtue. Kindness, generosity, excellence of quality. The best part of anything.

Goodness is a fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

All fruits of the Spirit are expressions of God’s goodness, righteousness and truth.

Ephesians 5:9 for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth,

good4

            I have a brother that is 18 years younger than I. By the time he was 2, all the other siblings were grown and off to college or the military. My parents were financially secure by then and absolutely spoiled the kid, not giving him the same discipline the other siblings had received. He grew up an entitled and confused child with anger issues and was constantly in trouble.

            By the time my little brother was in his early 30’s he had been in jail or prison 12 out of last 13 years. Everyone, including me, had written him off as screw up and had pretty much given up hope on him ever changing. He was a professed atheist and prison had really messed with his mind.

            The whole family would continually tell him what he needed to do to “get his act together” and we were all quick to point out his mistakes and explain to him why he made them. I would write him in prison to encourage him and let him know I loved him but the conversation would deteriorate if I mentioned God and he would lash out at me with terrible accusations that made me question his sanity.

            Finally, I had given up writing to him in prison because he would write back saying what a fool and a hypocrite I was, bad mouthing God with a language that can only be learned in a super max prison. He read everything he could while in prison to prove that there was not a God just so he would have some ammunition to use in our next conversation. His hatred and accusations toward me and God had hardened my heart towards him. I was done being ridiculed for my faith from a lowlife convict. I’m just being honest, that’s where I was at.

            I had been praying for him over the years and I was at the point where I was going to pray one last time and turn him over to the devil. I saw in 1 Corinthians 5:5 where the apostle Paul delivered such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. I felt like this was my only option and even talked with a few pastors about the situation and they agreed.

            As I was contemplating this and asking God if this was the right thing to do, God spoke to me and said, “Show him My goodness.” A few scriptures immediately came to mind when He said that. In Romans it says that the goodness of God leads men to repentance, and in Exodus when Moses asked to see God’s glory, God said “I’ll show you my goodness.”

Romans 2:1-4 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

Exodus 33:18-19 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” 19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you.

            God was showing me that if I wanted my brother to change, to repent from his ways, that ministering goodness was the only thing that would work. My constant judging of him was actually making it worse. I was so conscious of his sins that it made him even more sin conscious of them, perpetuating his wrong behavior. I saw that sin consciousness isn’t just about you being conscious of your own sins, but the sins of others also. In fact, if you are conscious of the sins of others, its a big indicator that you are conscious of your own. But that’s another lesson.

            I decided to listen to God and change my approach. I wrote him a letter telling him how much I loved him and believed in him, magnifying all the good qualities in his life, speaking to his potential and not his past. I encouraged him not to give up or be too hard on himself, acknowledging that I too had made some terrible mistakes and that I respected his moral right to believe anything he wished. I apologized for being hard on him and I let him know I was there to love and help him in any way I could.

good3            I didn’t mention God once in that letter, and for the first time in years he responded with sincerity and humility. He acknowledged his own weakness and opened up about some of the struggles he wrestled with. Sure, he used some foul language and made some rash comments that didn’t set well with me, but I didn’t respond to it, I overlooked it. Over the next 19 months, prior to his release, I just continued to love him and be good to him even when he tested it with his accusations, bashing God and badmouthing my faith.

            His pattern of behavior for more than 13 years was: Get released from jail or prison, behave for two to three months, and then do something completely off the wall stupid and go right back to being incarcerated. I am happy to say that the pattern has changed.

            My brother has been out of maximum security prison for ten months now. He has regained his driver’s license that was lost ten years ago. He is working a steady job, he is starting his final semester of welding school and has already been offered a position at a local company with great pay and benefits. He is a different person and it is obvious to the whole family. He is still a professed atheist but that will soon change. He has already started to make the turn. That’s what repentance means, to turn from something, to something or someone else.

            I am thankful for my little brother, and I am thankful that God kept me from giving up on him. I am so grateful that He showed me a better way, a higher way, His way.

1 Timothy 4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;

            Preaching the Word means nothing if you don’t live the Word. Instead of telling people about God we should introduce them to Him through our submitted life. The ministry of goodness can be the most powerful evangelistic tool available if sincerely embraced and lived.

Perhaps the most famous quote from St. Francis of Assisi is:

“Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”

            I think St. Francis had a revelation of what I am talking about. In fact, I am just now catching up with him. Consider the words of Jesus:

Mark 10:18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.”

            In this passage even Jesus was acknowledging the fact that all goodness comes from God, the Father. Jesus said, “I only do what I see the Father do.”

John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

            Isn’t it interesting that when Jesus was anointed with the Power of the Spirit the following manifestation was goodness and healing toward all.

Goodness is an expression of love, and God is love. 1 John 4:16

            I have also used the ministry of goodness on my children to correct wrong behavior and quench a spirit of pride and rebellion. I have applied this to other strained relationships in my family and in the church. Without fail I have seen the fruit of peace, restoration, joy and spiritual growth in every relationship.

            God’s way to turn people to Him is a good way. It opens doors of communication, disarming any antagonism and gives you a license to speak into the lives of others and present the Lord to them in reality, not just in word.

Question: Are you living the gospel or merely preaching the gospel?

Question: What ways can you yield to God’s goodness?

Question: Can you describe a sin consciousness?

Question: What relationships in your life could be improved by you being good to them?

Christian Leadership Development #2

Leadership Mentoring Development

            Not all followers of Christ are qualified to lead and not all potential leaders are qualified to lead now. Being a leader requires two main things, development of Christ-like character and development of leadership skills. Character without leadership skills causes frustration and discontent from the body and with other leaders. Skill swithout character produces animosity and mistrust from the body and other leaders. Both situations can set the leader up for failure and hinders the growth, development and fruitfulness of the body.

            Developing both character and skills ensures the leader will become a pillar in the church and not a stumbling block.

fruit5

Character

            Character reflects nature. It is the nature of God being expressed in our lives that is the ultimate goal. This applies to all believers, not just leaders. The character and nature of God is what all leaders are leading others to. You can’t lead another person to a place you have never been. God’s nature must be established in a leader before they are qualified to lead.

Love is God’s Nature

1st John 4:8 (NKJV) He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1st John 4:16 (NKJV) And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

1st Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

            According to John, love isn’t just the nature of God, love is the embodiment of God. God IS love.

fruit6.jpg           In 1st Corinthians 13 we see how God (love) behaves. These behaviors must be developed and continually strengthened in a leader so that God’s nature can be evident to all. Embracing love (the nature of God) will bear the fruit of the Spirit. The development of these behaviors doesn’t come striving and trying to “be better,” They are developed by intimacy with God and a growing closeness in relationship with Him.

fruits

Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

            In Matthew 12:33 it tells us that a tree is known by its fruit, so let’s take a closer look at the fruit that should be hanging from the tree of a leader.

1) Love. The opposite of love is not hate, it is selfishness. A leader lays down his life for others, sacrificing self in favor of another. It should never be about you.

2) Joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Joy not only brings strength to the leader but to those around him. A good leader enjoys what he is doing and others enjoy working with him.

3) Peace. Peacemakers create an atmosphere that promotes healthy relationships with God and others. They avoid unfruitful confrontation and diffuse strife and contentious situations. A leader will find common ground to build on and will magnify the positive, not the negative.

4) Patience. Patience makes room for others to grow in their gifts and calling, providing a safe environment that allows them to make mistakes without the danger of condemnation and shame. Patience doesn’t just see the individual but has a view of what that individual will look like when completely submitted to God.

5) Goodness. Romans 2:4 tells us that it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. Being good to people even when it costs you and doing the right thing even when it is not convenient causes people to turn to God and away from self-centered living.

6) Gentleness. 2nd Timothy 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient.

Being mindful of proper etiquette and the emotional state of those you are dealing with, using kind words and expressing genuine concern for the individual creates a platform that you can minister from and gives you the influence to speak effectively into the lives of others.

7) Faithfulness. 1st Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

Leadership is a stewardship from God. Being steadfast, reliable, honorable and consistent speaks volumes about the heart and character of the leader.

8) Meekness. Meekness is not being a pushover, it is the humility of controlled strength. Numbers 12:3 says that Moses was the meekest man in all the earth and yet he was the one used most in the earth at that time. There is a connection between meekness and a vessel that God can use.

9) Self-control. This can’t be accomplished without a healthy prayer life. You don’t have the ability to control yourself without the Fathers help. The more intimate time you spend with God when no one else is looking, the easier self-control will be. A robust prayer life creates constant awareness of God that makes it easy to resist temptation and make right decisions.

Question: As a leader, are you stronger in your character or your skillset?

Question: Do you, or did you have strong leaders to mentor you and help you develop as a leader?

Question: What are you a steward over right now, and what would you like to be a steward over in the future?

Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank you faithfulness?

JC

Christian Leadership Development #1

LEAD2

Christian Leadership Development Series

Qualifications for Leadership

          What is a Christian Leader? Is Christian Leadership different from secular leadership? How are Christian leaders chosen? What inspires people to follow a Christian Leader? These are a few of the question addressed in this series.

          There are many great teachings available on Christian leadership. However, in this series we will focus on what I believe to be the essential, must have qualities and skills needed for a successful Christian leader. Leadership is not a position, it is a perspective that dictates how to think, act and make decisions. Applying the lessons in this series will help develop and maintain a proper leadership perspective.

“Leadership Is Not Position, It Is A Perspective.”

          The greatest Christian leaders have a plan for disciplined spiritual growth and developing skillsets that enable them to be more effective while mentoring and equipping others for the work of the ministry. Great ministries are built on the shoulders of great leaders. Great leaders are not born, they are developed and committed to the development process.

Choosing Leaders

lead.jpg          The New Testament has some established guidelines for choosing leaders and if we don’t have these standards in place first we undermine our entire leadership culture.

          I see many churches that hold their leaders to a high standard of character and behavior but they have very low standards when choosing a leader. It is not fair to put a person in a place of leadership that requires strong character when their character has not yet been developed. I see it all the time. A person is chosen for a position of leadership simply because of availability or an obvious gifting, or even worse, people are placed in positions of leadership because of their financial contributions to the ministry with no consideration of character or maturity. It is a recipe for disappointment and disaster.

Here are a few questions to consider before choosing leaders:

  • Is the individual a devoted follower of Christ?
  • Have they proven themselves faithful or are they recent converts?
  • Do they pursue Jesus passionately and have an obvious intimate relationship with God?
  • Do they have a robust prayer life?
  • Does the individual have a good knowledge of God’s Word?
  • Are they able to encourage people to take steps to spiritual maturity?
  • Do they possess self-control?  
  • Are they gentle, hospitable, upright, holy, and disciplined?
  • Is their life an example to the flock?

          If you look at this list and fall under conviction, it’s ok. Maybe this applies to you or a person you have placed in a leadership role and you realize you have missed the mark. Don’t fret. Correction is a part of leadership, receiving it and giving it. We will address these questions in light of scripture in the following lessons and provide a roadmap to develop a strong leadership team.

Qualifications For Leadership

            I’m so thankful that God took out the guesswork in qualifying church leaders. The Bible lays out some very specific guidelines for choosing leaders and these guidelines are the foundation for leadership, mentoring, and ministry success. Understand that this is God’s prescribed method of choosing leaders. It is His way of determining who is, and is not qualified to lead. Being mindful of this and honoring this process inspires faith, produces strength, promotes success, prevents problems, and establishes structure and boundaries. If we adopt any other method of vetting leaders we subvert God’s plan and bring a reproach on Christ. I know that may sound harsh, but it is the harsh reality that we are faced with.

            Let’s start with qualifications for Deacons and Elders and define their roles in the church. The roles of Deacons and Elders encompass all of the qualified leader positions in the church. All others should be in a position of being groomed and mentored for these offices.

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Elders:

            Elders are the spiritual leaders of the church. They serve as pastors, associate pastors and teachers they provide general oversight on organizational, financial, and spiritual matters. Elders can be 5 fold ministry gifts that have matured in their gifting and have proven themselves faithful in ministry, serving under the authority of other leaders. Elders are not limited to 5-fold ministry gifts but should live a life in such submission to Christ that they can readily embody the expression of the 5-fold ministry at any given moment. They understand that Christ is the embodiment of the 5-fold ministry and if Christ chooses to move through them as a Prophet, an Evangelist, or any other gift, they yield to that expression.

            Leaders don’t find their identity in the office that they occupy, but in Christ alone. In other words, Pastor, or Teacher in not who I am, it is how I serve. A seasoned Elder will wake up every day and be willing to serve others in whatever capacity God chooses.

          An Elder understands that they exist to love and serve others, that their life is not their own and selfishness is never an option.

Deacons:

            The biblical requirements of deacons are very similar to that of elders, but there is a clear distinction between the offices. The role of a deacon may include a variety of services and differs from denomination to denomination. In general deacons function as servants, ministering to the body in practical ways. They may serve as a lead usher, oversee the benevolence outreach, lead a home group, or lead the hospitality department.

             No matter how they serve, scripture is clear that the office of a deacon is a rewarding and honorable calling in the church and a necessary role for elders to function in their office. The ministry of deacons is vital to the success of the elders, it frees them up to focus on prayer, studying God’s Word, and pastoral care. It is a great example of how one body part depends on the other. Deacons are Elders in training.

Leadership requirements for Elders:

Titus 1:5-9 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

1Timothy 3:1-7 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Leadership requirements for Deacons:

1 Timothy 3:8-13 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

lead1            These scriptures are not overly complicated, in fact they are very straight forward and leave no room for misinterpretation. I believe God made it simple for us so we wouldn’t mess it up. If we deviate from these simple guidelines and place an unqualified elder or deacon in a leadership role we have created a recipe for disaster.

            Placing an unqualified leader in one of these roles devalues the office in the eyes of the flock as well as the other leaders. These offices should be held in high esteem and the people in them should be honorable, above reproach, and worthy of respect. This creates structure and boundaries with the body of Christ that are clearly defined and easily understood. It shows people that there is a defined structure of authority that is from God and sends a clear message that the leadership are here for their benefit.

Question: What is one thing you could change right now to make you a more effective leader?

Question: Do you hold your leadership team to a higher standard than what you are living yourself?

Question: How much time do you spend with the Lord in prayer daily?

Question: Do you spend as much time in prayer waiting and listening as you do talking?

JC

Spiritual Gifts are Free, Maturity is Expensive

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         Christians follow others for many reasons. Personality, charisma, doctrine, integrity, social status, perceived success, speaking skills, etc. but the main reason people follow a Christian leader is because of their relationship with the God.

          All great Christian leaders have one thing in common, a genuine intimate relationship with God that is obvious to all. The reason Jesus did what He did was to restore man back to intimacy with God. The message of the Gospel is one of reconciliation and restoration of relationship, the removal of all barriers that stand between God and man. If a Christian is not continually growing in this revelation, walking in, and living out this truth, he/she is not qualified to lead others anywhere.

          A leader’s influence should be used to bring others into a deeper relationship with God. Deep down this is what we all want. This can only be done by example first and teaching second. It is impossible to lead someone to a deeper relationship with God than you have personally experienced. You can’t lead anyone to a place you’ve never been.

          Jesus is the example of leadership that we must follow. We can look at His life and glean many leadership principles that we can live by, but I will only address one main principles that we see Him practice in the gospels. Intimacy with God.

          There are no shortcuts to intimacy, it takes time, discipline, effort and commitment. Intimacy with the Father is the greatest investment you can make in yourself and others.

Gifts are free, but Maturity is expensive.

          Intimacy leads to maturity and intimacy is a result of continuous fellowship. Many Christians follow others because of their “Spiritual Gifting,” not understanding that gifting can easily be manifest without spiritual maturity.

          Our identity is not found in our gifting but in our relationship with the Father. Pastor, Teacher, Prophet is not who I am, it is how I serve. We must find our identity in loving and serving, not gifting.

          The goal of a leader is to reproduce themselves and nothing is reproduced without intimacy. First priority is relationship with the Father. Jesus only did what He saw the Father do. This demands a lifestyle of watching and praying. It’s not always convenient or comfortable but it is always necessary.

          A leader can easily get distracted from spending intimate time with the Lord. A common trap is to replace reading the Bible and studying with being alone with God and communing with Him. The problem is, you can only learn about God from reading the Bible and studying. To truly know Him you must spend time with Him, commune with Him, listen to Him.

          If I read your biography I can learn a lot about you but I can’t honestly say that I know you. I can only know you by spending time with you. It is the same with God. When intimacy becomes a lifestyle, reading and studying takes on a whole new dimension and bears much more fruit. While reading the written word you see them through His divine nature, you look at them with eyes and a heart of love that makes you more sensitive to His spoken word. This is when the scriptures really begin to come alive.

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          The Lord taught me a powerful lesson about who I am and I would like to share it with you.

          I pray often that God would live in me and through me in fullness. That people would see Him in me. I remember some time ago, ministering to a lady on the phone one day and she asked me if I was a Pastor. I said “No, my wife is a pastor, I have been offered ordination and refused it because I am not a Pastor.” The Lord then spoke to me and said, “But I Am a Pastor, and if you deny Me that expression in your life I can’t answer your prayer to live through you in fullness.”

          God was showing me that titles and labels don’t define who I am, He does. I was limiting His expression through my life because my words were stout against Him and I had a limited idea of who I am.

maturty3.jpg          Who you think you are must come second to who He wants to be in you at any given moment. He showed me that He is the embodiment of the fivefold ministry and if I will maintain intimacy with Him and be sensitive to His desires He will be free to move through me and touch lives in a way that I could never do through my own strength and ability.

Ephesians 4:11-16  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith (P)and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

JC

The Discipline of Watching

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Understanding Watchfulness

         What did Jesus mean when He said “Watch and Pray?”

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

          Just what are we watching for?

         I remember going to a store one day and remaining in the car while my friends went in to do some shopping. In the car next to me was this little dog sitting in the driver’s seat staring intently at the door of the store. This little dog would not take his eyes off that door. Every time the automatic doors would slide open the little dog’s ears would perk up. He would stand with his front paws on the steering wheel panting, wide eyed and tail wagging expectantly. Time and time again people would come out of the door that was not his master and the dog would return to his intense watchful position, not disappointed, but with an obvious understanding that one of these times it will be his master, he had only to wait patiently.

watch3.png         As I watched this dog the Lord showed me through this simple illustration that this is what He is talking about when He said “watch.” Eventually the little dog’s master did exit the door. His excitement and enthusiasm came unhinged! I could hear his happy little whines and yelps as he watched his master walk strait to the car. His love and appreciation for his owner was unquestionable.

         They could not have been apart for more than 30 minutes, yet the dog greeted his owner like he had been missing him for a month. To this dog, his master was the most precious person on the planet, and could not bear to be apart from him for any length of time. It was so obvious this dog loved his master with everything that was in him.

         What would it be like if we saw our Heavenly Father this way? What difference would it make in our lives? How would it affect our relationship with Him? What would it do to our perception of life? How would it affect our joy? Our peace? Our faith?

         After seeing this little dog I am convinced that we often take the Lord for granted. That we don’t really relate to Him like He is the creator of the universe, the master of ALL. Our hearts are divided, our minds are distracted and we allow other things matter more than what should matter most.

         The Bible says to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all our needs will be met. (Matt 6:33) Yet we continue to approach God with our laundry list of needs and wants like He wasn’t serious when He said that.

         The gospel of Jesus Christ is about living a life with a very narrow, focused perspective. To maintain that perspective we must be imitators of Jesus. Jesus said this:

John 5:19-20 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

         Jesus ONLY did what He saw. Jesus was able to do what He did because He constantly practiced watching the Father. He truly did “seek first the Kingdom of God.” Could this be a big reason that we don’t see the level of supernatural life that we read about in the book of Acts?

         The discipline of watching moves us from being a child/servant to a mature son. It is only the mature sons that can receive an inheritance. (Gal 4:1-2)

         The discipline of watching creates an awareness of God that puts all of life in proper perspective. The more we keep our attention and focus on Him, the clearer we become on who He really is and who we really are to Him.

         The discipline of watching produces an integrity of heart that makes resisting temptation easy.

         The discipline of watching keeps you prepared to face anything that life would dish out to you.

         The discipline of watching produces humility and He gives His grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5James 4:6-7)

         The discipline of watching may be the most important part of prayer. When we practice watching, we know what to pray for and how to pray. We know what to do and how to do it. We position ourselves to be a trusted vessel that the Father can use to flow through.

JC

Revelation of Righteousness (poem)

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I look in the mirror and what do I see?

The answer is always illusive to me.

I see all my failures and mistakes that I made,

And then I remember the price Jesus paid.

 

My sin He has covered and though it seems strange,

He died on the cross for a wondrous exchange.

My sins He did bear when I had naught to give,

He then made me righteous that through Him I’d live.

 

My struggle to see past the person I’ve been

Is now a good fight that I know I can win.

He’s done all the work, this I perceive,

Now all that is left is for me to believe.

~Jack Coley~