Sunday, April 29, 2012
Boasting and Bragging. We all do it. Sometimes, on purpose. At other times, we have done it for so long that we have actually perfected a ‘spiritual air’ about it – trying to “sound humble” in the process when in reality we are doing nothing but “Bragging and Boasting” about our own accomplishments for the Kingdom of God. Oftentimes, we accomplish those ‘successes’ by taking the same principles found in business and are used ‘in the world system’ and simply redressing them so they will now fit in the ‘religious realm’ in which we operate.
Need some examples? They are numerous in the land of Christendom – here are just two. Monthly or Yearly ‘brag sheets’ regarding the amount of money we have given (with how much, where and to whom it has been dispersed), the number of “souls” we have baptized and/or ‘led to the Lord’, the numbers we have ‘run’ in various services, the list goes on add nausea. Or the hushed and ‘unspoken’ belief we so often embrace, exalt, and promote is, the ‘bigger the numbers’, the more ‘successful we are’ for God’s glory (whatever the particular form of ministry may take), and in doing so, we fail to realize just how unbiblical our thinking is. We fail to look inwardly, deep within our souls to discover our true motives of ‘why’ we are actually doing what we are doing ‘for God.’ Perhaps, most of the time, deceiving ourselves.
It continues on from there. Look at the average ministry webpage or newsletter, etc. and you will find the following. ‘Jesus’ almost becomes a by-word that is ‘tacked on’ here-and-there. We have this driving need for people to know WHAT we are doing for Jesus, and to make sure others know ‘WHY’ we are doing it, and how ‘God is blessing our particular ministry.’ However, upon taking a closer look we will notice that within those presentations, that that particular ministry, or those who are in leadership position, that we often find ‘their’ names outnumbering the mention of Jesus at least “five times-or-more to one”. It’s almost as if we feel a necessity that people must know ‘what God is accomplishing is directly related to them’ so that people will continue to support the ministry financially so they can continue their work for God, as well as expand it.
Now, don’t misunderstand my words. This is not a spiritual indictment on ‘larger’ ministries. The same structure, mindset and thought process can be seen in, what we would deem, “smaller congregations or ministries” as well as ‘large’ (depending on the relevance of the number we choose to ascribe to it.) And it is characteristic of both ‘big and small’, infecting both those ‘in the pews’, ‘behind the pulpit, and ‘leading a ministry’. It is a spiritual cancer in our souls that needs to be eradicated so that the true glory of Christ can really shine through us the way He desires.
For some reason, somewhere along the way; in adopting the ‘methods of modern-day ministry’ we seem to have embraced the mindset that we are really ‘nothing’ to God or His Kingdom unless others know it. For some reason we find the need that we have to ‘prove to others’ our level or spirituality, worth, or accomplishments ‘in the name of Christ and for our God’. We included in that thinking also, that, ‘the more we do’, the ‘more successful we are for God’s Kingdom’; the more we ‘do’, then the more pleased He is with us, the more important we are to His Kingdom. And therefore (whether it be conscious or unconscious) the better we are known in the spiritual circle in which we run, then not only do we have a bigger chance of making an impression for God in this world (among the brethren), but the more ‘spiritually self-important’ we feel, thus as if we were making God a respecter of persons.
So what is our problem and how did we end up here? What brought us to this precipice? Why is it our ministries seem 100 miles wide and only an inch deep? I believe it is one of ‘identity’. Of our failing to realize who we really are in Christ.
In his book, Look! The finished work of Jesus, Mike Mooney states the following, “It is easy for us to think it is a noble and good thing to boast in our zeal for Jesus, but the Holy Spirit shows us that what we might really be doing is actually boasting in our own greatness. Boasting in how much we love Jesus comes out of being ‘self-focused’ in our faith.
[Note: It was John Maxwell who said, “If you have to tell someone that you are the leader, you are probably not one.” Carry that over into the spiritual realm, if we have to ‘tell people’ how ‘spiritual we are’, then we probably aren’t. If we have to tell people how much we love Christ, then we probably don’t. If we have to ‘brag or boast’ about all we do for Him, it is probably not truly for His glory.
In the Amplified Bible, in 1 Corinthians 8:3, we find these words, “But if one loves God truly [with affectionate reverence, prompt obedience, and grateful recognition of His blessing], he is known by God [recognized as worthy of His intimacy and love, and he is owned by Him].” To me, it seems that you would think that a person who walks passionately and intimately with a loving Abba Father would not need to ‘boast’ in anything, but Him.
Mike goes on to say, “It is when we turn our eyes upon Jesus and become ‘Christ-focused’ that we begin to stop boasting in our love for Him, and start to boast in His love for us! As Christians, we need to recognize our boast is not meant to be in how much we love Jesus, but in how much He loves us. Similarly, our focus should not be in how much we doing for Jesus, but in how much He has done for us.” [Emphasis mine] What tremendous words.
He continues, “Why would you want your relationship with Jesus to be based on how much you love (and serve) Him? If the relationship is built on the foundation of your love (and service), then it is broken every time you fail to love (and serve) Him perfectly. However if your relationship is based on how much Jesus loves you, as it actually is, then your relationship with Him is never broken because although you may fail the Lord, He will never fail you. This is the true foundation God wants you to build your relationship with Jesus upon. It is one that will allow you to walk in the blessing of full assurance of faith, because it is based on the perfect love of Christ.
It is to here that I have been brought. I, along with so many others, failed to realize it is not about me. It is ALL about Jesus. Our life, our essence, our ministry, our testimony, the very breath we breathe, every beat of our hearts, who we are, what we do or don’t do, our very essence and purpose is all IN Christ and BECAUSE OF the magnificence and Person of Jesus Christ. It is HIS supremacy. HE is Lord. It is HIS love. It is HIS mercy and grace. It is ALL because of HIM and HIM ALONE. It is not how much I love Him, but how much He loves me. It is not about my service to Him or trying to please or appease Him, but rather my standing and perfection IN HIM. He is my all-in-all, because He Is.
Now, if we are not careful, we will miss it. We will stay ‘busy’ for Him, embracing the so-called, self-centered focus, religious so-called Christianity that has been pawned off on us leaving us frustrated, burnt out, dissatisfied, discouraged, and tired. All because the ‘strength’ of our “trying to live the Christian life” has been fueled by ourselves in ‘the name of Christ’ but doing so with ourselves as the center and focus and just ‘tacking Christ on’ in the process. Religion can do that, you know.
I believe that one of the most freeing moments in the Christian life is when we come to the realization that we don’t have to ‘burn out for God’. That we don’t have to ‘manufacture’ working for Him somehow subconsciously, ‘proving our worth’ to God, but when we learn to truly begin to understand, as Paul said in Ephesians 3, the “height and width and length and depth of the love of God” that He pours continuously out upon us and in us, and as we truly learn to embrace, rest in, and bask in His unconditional love for us, the pressure is removed, the feelings of wondering if we have ‘done enough for The Master’ will finally subside and we then the Holy Spirit will produce His fruit in and through us, out of a relationship with God that He planned and desires. Or as Mike states again in his book, “When you allow yourself to rest at the feet of Jesus and enjoy His company, you will always end up outworking God’s will in your life because the Spirit is free to move in you as He desires. And as we trust in Him, He does all of the work in and through us and He gets ALL the credit.”
In John 6 Jesus is asked, what is the one THING, the one WORK that we can do that God requires of us and that will please Him? Ask most ministries or religious institutions, and the list(s) you will receive will vary in both number and description. And most of the time those lists will have a ‘bent’ toward the vision and goals of that particular institution or ministry (all in the ‘name of God’, of course). But what is THE work that God wants? The answer may surprise us. And He doesn’t leave us ‘clueless’. It is found in verse 29, Jesus answered, “The work of God is this, to believe in The One He has sent.” And that One, is Jesus Christ.
What a difference. That is not what the religious crowd of Jesus’ day
expected to hear (nor probably wanted to). It flies in the face of most of what is being presented out there on ‘how to please and work for God.’ [The principles are endless.] However, when our spirit truly rests in His grace; when we truly believe in Him; as we fix our gaze upon Jesus, (as Hebrews 12:2 states, “Looking unto, fixing our gaze/eyes upon, intently beholding Him, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith…” When we truly do so, that is when the Holy Spirit will produce His work and fruit in us. Paul said it best when he spoke these words; “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.”(Galatians 2:20)
Again, I quote Mike Mooney, “We can sometimes fool ourselves into believing Jesus expects so much from us, when He only asks us to do one thing – believe. If you do this one thing right, Christ in you will do everything else right on your behalf. You will be filled with the fruit of the Spirit, he will accomplish good works in you, and you will be able to give all the credit to Jesus.”
Now, think about what we have discussed and let’s compare that thought process with the two sisters mentioned in Luke 10 - Mary and Martha. Martha, the one working excessively, sacrificially, and tirelessly for the Lord’ – we find her complaining about Mary’s ‘lack of service and commitment level’. We find Martha bragging and boasting about all she had done for and was doing for the Lord (humbly and spiritually of course – in today’s time, she would have reported her service and results to her denomination, or published it in her ministry letter or webpage, so she and others would know just how spiritual she really was). Martha also reminded the Lord ‘how much she was doing for Him, her tireless service and sacrifice. Because of the wrong focus of her heart, Martha could easily criticize Mary. And yet, Jesus lovingly reminds her, “Martha, Martha (speaking to her heart), you are troubled, worried and upset about many things, but Mary has chosen what is far better, and it will never be taken away from her.”
Listen with me to Mike Mooney, “Don’t fool yourself into thinking Jesus wants you to fill your life up with ‘ministry works’ in order to please Him. He would much rather you simply sit at His feet and trust in Him, like Mary who wanted to see the reality of Jesus.
Our so-called ‘Christian Religion’ of today has promoted the Martha-mindset for years and produced an army of Marthas. We are reaping what we have sown. Scarily, it has become so deeply ingrained and imbedded in our hearts, minds, souls, and the ‘Christian culture’ of today that we have adopted it as the ‘norm’. But it must be rooted out. As one author said, “Busyness can be (and should never be) a substitute for Intimacy.”
Listen again to the words of Mike Mooney, "Mary was not trying to be someone great…She was not trying to ‘work for’ Jesus in order to please Him; rather she rested in His presence with joy and thankfulness. Martha thought Mary was simply being lazy, but Jesus explained that Mary was ‘doing’ exactly what God desired.
“When you allow yourself to rest at the feet of Jesus and enjoy His company, you will always end up outworking God’s will in your life because the Spirit is free to move in you as He desires…As we trust in Him (Christ), He (The Holy Spirit) does all the work in and through us. (Because) we receive all the benefits of a transformed life…we can give Him all of the credit with joyful hearts. And for me, I have found that that ‘outworking’ of the Spirit of God who indwells me, as I fix my entire gaze and life upon Christ, that His ‘outworking’ is far different than the religious, institutional, traditional, typical, comfortable of what-we-are-used-to, churchy mindset we find as Christians today. And you don’t care if anyone else knows. Why? Because God does and it is ALL about Jesus Christ. I don’t have to ‘prove my spirituality or service to you’. I don’t have to impress you, or for some reason ‘justify myself before you.’ I don’t have to ‘brag or boast’ because it is no longer about me. Am I perfect? Do I no longer make mistakes? Of course not. Positionally I am perfect IN CHRIST. The Holy Spirit shows me how to practically and daily walk that out IN HIM.
I like the way 2 Corinthians 10:17 states it, “As the Scriptures say, "If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.” (NLT) Paul also captured that same truth in 1 Corinthians 15:10 where he states that all that he is, is solely because of Jesus Christ and His grace. Even that which was accomplished through his life was a result of the grace of God operating within him and not something he manufactured himself. Paul’s entire focus was always on and about Jesus Christ.
Steve McVey states, “Religion complicates and confuses people by its demands and harsh scrutiny of our behavior. The grace of God stands in stark contrast to religion by assuring us that because of the finished work of Jesus, we are not only in good standing with God but are actually cherished by Him. Grace frees us from trying to prove anything to Him, to others, or even to ourselves…There is nothing left for us to do other than live out the reality of His finished work. [Both before and after salvation, Religion will always try to sell you the lie that God wants to relate to you based on your ‘works’, but the Gospel proclaims the truth that God actually desires to relate with you based on the finished work of His Son]. (God desires) to set many people free from the prison of religious performance and usher them into the rest that only comes by living in His grace. Or as Wayne Jacobsen says, it is learning how to “Live loved.”
So let me ask this question. Who or What are you ‘learning about’? Since, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” what is truly in your heart? We can know by asking the question – what is coming out of your mouth? Is it your ‘church’? Your pastor? Your accomplishments? Your Praise Team? Or something else entirely? Your [you fill in the blank’. Who or What do we find ourselves ‘bragging or boasting’ about the most? The answer may both shock and surprise us. But whatever it is, that is the true focus of our hearts and lives. Is our complete focus, fully about and on JESUS?
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Matthew 11:28-30. Listen to the very heart of Jesus…
28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will [o]ease and relieve and [p]refresh [q]your souls.] 29Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ([r]relief and ease and refreshment and [s]recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and wholesome (useful, [t]good--not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. [Emphasis mine]
Let’s ‘look’ to Him. Let us realize that all that we are or ever will be, is all because of Him. Anything done through us is only because of Him and His grace. HE is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is our everything – it is all because of His love, His finished work, His Person. The ONLY thing in life and in eternity that I will ever have to brag or boast about is no one but Jesus Christ.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Mable walked slowly down the aisle, as the rays from the morning sun made their way across the room. “This place sure is dusty, why you can see the dust just floating in those sun beams,” Mable said to herself.
As Mable made her way down the aisle, as she had done so many times before, her mind spoke “How long has it been? Well, this old mind doesn’t work like it used to. How many years now? Well, ‘ol girl, Mama started bringing me here, what was it now? Yes, that’s right, ever since I was three years old. This church seemed so big back then. And the memories. Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, all kinds of preachers over the years – some good, some, well, not so good. “Mama used to say, it’s okay Honey, God will bring us somebody better.” I remember how my little hand felt so secure in Mama’s hands. “Lord, it was right here, that I grasped Mama’s hand for that last time. But it was different. I was older, and now her hand was cold and lifeless. Mama wasn’t really here. That’s the last time I saw Mama here on this earth,” Mable thought to herself.
As Mable turned, (if someone had been there to see her, they would have noticed, as they always do), those tired, aged hands preciously holding ‘The Book’ close to her heart. Edges cracked and curled, a book whose pages are well known to her, some tear-stained, some worn from where fingers have followed along ever so gently, passionately as she read. “Such good words, loving words,” her voice echoed off the walls. Words that have brought her hope, and comfort in good times and bad throughout these long, yet “Why, it seems so short at times,” years, Mable again spoke out loud. Not to anyone in particular. Unless you listen to people talk. If asked, they would tell you that “It seems like Mable’s been talking a lot to herself lately.” Mable would hear their whispers, bits and pieces of their conversations and simply smile. She knew. Let them think what they want. It seems that some Christian people just don’t understand. After all, Mable knew that she was talking to Someone very dear and special to her, a very personal Friend Who often spoke to her mind and heart.
Mable eased herself down into ‘her’ pew. A welcome place. Some will tell you that Mable and her Mama, and her Daddy those last few years of her life, had sat in that same spot, ‘why it seems like forever’, or so they say. He eyes purposefully moved about the room, at times, settling a few moments here, a few moments there, as sweet memories flooded her mind of ‘those special times’ within these old walls.
“Lord, I have so many good memories here. I was baptized in that baptistery. It was here in this pew, all those years ago, I began my journey with You, as your Spirit spoke to my heart and soul, and You poured out Your love for me. The love of my Savior. Remember Lord when I got up and walked right down here, to this old altar. And I met You, my precious Jesus. Right here Lord, You became my Savior.” Tears were streaming down Mable’s face, now, but not of sadness but rather from joy. Mable wiped her eyes with her handkerchief when she suddenly found herself in that very spot, kneeling where she had so many years before. “And like I have so many times since, too. Goodness gracious, how did I get from that old pew down to here?” she laughed out loud. “Maybe I am losing my mind. Well if I am, then so be it!”
Mable purposefully retraced each step as she made it back to ‘her spot’ in the pew. “These ‘ol bones don’t work like they used to,” she smiled. As the oak creaked beneath her, supporting her weight. And yet, it was almost as if a greater weight sat down with her.
Mable was troubled. “Lord,” you know, we have a problem here,” she said.. “There are a lot of new people coming. All kinds from all walks of life. Why we’re bursting at the seams. And I sure do like to see the excitement of all the children.”
“But Lord, Your body seems to be divided. There are those here who don’t want to leave this place, this building, it’s almost as if it’s become an idol. But the others aren’t much different. They are looking at the new facility as an end in itself. I guess it bothers me that It seems as we’ve lost our focus. All I hear people talking about is one of the two buildings, or their preference in styles of music, or some other dang thing. Oops, I’m sorry Father. It’s just I don’t know what to do.”
As Mable’s heart quieted, a stillness came over her. Almost, as if unseen loving arms embraced her and held her close. It reminded her of the times she used to crawl up in her daddy’s lap and he would wrap his arms around her when she was little. She felt safe and loved there. And the best part was she could see her reflection in the smile and warmth of his eyes. And as she placed her head against his chest she would hear and feel his heartbeat. Mable knew this moment. One that she daily came to cherish, of being in her Heavenly Father’s lap and feeling His loving embrace.
“Mable”, said The Voice.
“Yes, my Lord,” Mable responded
“Mable, you have realized that the precious times we have spent together, here in this location, are not because of this building, service or programs. My daughter, it is not because of this place, or any place. It is because of a Person, and My agape love.
“My children have become confused and deluded by embracing religion over Relationship. For ages now they have built large buildings thinking that they honor Me. Presenting these structures to My creation as if this is where I dwell, and that these edifices somehow represent Me. And yet, My Son said, “No longer does God dwell in buildings made with hands. For you now are My temple and the place where I dwell. My children worship their buildings, visions, and goals just as Israel worshiped the serpent, that My servant Moses lifted up in the wilderness. Their ‘religious rituals, objects, and expectations’ have replaced Me.
“My people attend programs, conferences, and numerous Bible studies believing this makes them more spiritual and better disciples. And yet My Son has told you, “By this will all people know you are My disciples, if you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
“Mable, out of the abundance of their heart they speak. I AM no longer on their lips because I AM no longer truly in their hearts. Even in this fellowship that you attend, listen to what is most important to them. What excites them is shown by what they talk about. Everything is substituted for Me. Just as a small child cares more about their gifts and toys than the parent who gave it to them.
They are blinded and do not know it. They are zealous and say they embrace the truth, when The Truth is My Son. They have unknowingly left the passion of their first love.”
“I know Lord. I was that way for so many years. Until You broke through my ‘Christian Religiosity’ and broke the crust of this old religious heart and soul and brought me back to Your loving heart and arms,” Mable said as tears streamed down her face. Overwhelmed by The Voice that enveloped her.
“Mable,” The Voice responded, “Even through those times, I was always there. My love for you has never diminished or changed. I just had to woo you back to Me. To open your eyes and heart so you would stop performing for Me out your desire to please Me, thinking you could earn My favor and love - Instead of just living loved. To responding to my love, voice, and heart. You have always been in my embrace and arms, always close to My heart, and always will be. I just had to remove the religious garbage in your life in order for you to see Me again.”
“Lord, I am so unworthy. Why me?”
“Mable, I AM no respecter of persons. This relationship with Me is for all. For some, the control of religion has a very strong hold on their lives. Sadly some have chosen ‘Doing Church’ over their ‘Being My Child’. For some, it takes a while to break through the religious facade so they can see My face again,” The Voice said.
“Lord, what am I to do?” Mable asked.
“Continue in My love. And as My Spirit nudges your heart, share the awesomeness of My love with them. Allow Me to break through those barriers, and you just abide in My love – let them see the difference of the joy of walking with Abba Father over the hollowness of performing religious duties and obligations.”
“But, Lord, what if they won’t listen?” Mable asked.
“Lives are touched and changed, one at a time. Just as on the cross, I was in Christ reconciling the world to Myself. I am still continuing to do so today. Religion will never change anyone, but My love will.”
“I love You, Lord,” Mable spoke from the very depths of her soul and heart.
“I know My child. And Mable, I have and will always love you. I look for the time we can be together.”
A single tear fell down Mable’s face on to her Bible. “I don’t think that will be much longer, Father,” she said. “I look forward to it, too”
Overwhelmed, Mable sat there for a few more moments. The light was lower now coming through the windows. Mable began to gather her things and as she started to rise, she heard a creaking sound behind her. She turned her head to see the old wooden church door open and someone cautiously stick her head in.
“Mrs. Mable, is that you?” A petite young mother asked as she made her way down the church aisle, with a small child holding onto her hand, rubbing her nose.
“What is it dear?” Mable asked. “Sit down.”
The young mother sat down pulling the little girl on to her lap. “Mable, you know I’ve been coming here for some time now. I grew up in this church. Got married here. Trusted Christ here. I know I’m God’s child.
The young mother’s shoulders quietly slumped as if burdened with a heavy load while a tear trickled down her face. “I’m so tired. You know our family faithfully attends here we are so busy and involved. Children’s Church, Sunday School, Men’s Meetings, Ladies’ Meetings, Conferences, Services three days a week, witnessing, Praise Team Practice and Worship, Doctrine and Membership Classes. It seems like the list goes on-and-on. I don’t want God mad with me. I’m almost afraid to say this. But we are so busy doing things for God, I feel like I’m missing Him. I have no time with Him anymore. Is it supposed to be like this? Sometimes I just want to scream. The pastor says it is. After all, ‘Serving God is serving His Church.’ he says. But when it’s all said and done, we go home exhausted. And we’re so busy, it seems most of the time we feel empty. And sometimes we don’t even want to come. There is no rest. God sometimes seems like such a taskmaster. Is there no hope? And on top of everything else, we’re supposed to move into the new building in a few months. Now we’re being told there are more planning meetings, and…” the young mother’s voice trailed off.
“Mable, something is different about you. There seems to be such a peace, almost glow about you. What is different about your life?” the mother pleadingly asked.
As Mable sat there, she felt that well-known familiar Nudge in her heart and smiled. And with one hand on her Bible, she placed her other hand ever so gently on the young mother’s shoulder. Wiping the tear from the young mother’s eye, she looked at her, and said, “Honey, let me share with you about the awesomeness of God’s wonderful love”
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Be Careful WHO You Listen To!
Quick fixes – Instant Answers – Microwave mentality. It seems that Christians have the same problem that non-Christians do when it comes to seeking advice and wanting answers to their very real problems. But the real problem becomes worse and the danger can become more serious when we fail to use WISDOM in making right choices - especially when those choices involve 'WHO' we listen to and take council from. And it compounds when we begin to solely rely on others to 'hear from God for us' instead of 'hearing God's voice' and seeking His council' ourselves, when we listen to everybody else, BUT HIM.
One way to help us in making wise choices is found in the Scripture when it tells us in Proverbs 11:14; "Where there is no counsel (guidance, wise leadership), the people (nation) fall; But in the multitude (abundance of, many) counselors there is safety (victory)."
Notice the EMPHASIS, 'abundance of, many, multitude of counsel, wise leadership, guidance', NEVER in just 'one' person. No matter how POPULAR that person may be, or even how they may have just EMOTIONALLY STIRRED OUR SOULS with their PRESENTATION, PROGRAM, PRESENCE or POWER. Always in a multitude (abundance of, many) wise counselors
HOWEVER… Sadly today there seem to be more-and-more individuals who are involved in ministries who honestly believe that because of their particular POSITION, TITLE, MINISTRY, EXPERIENCE or SUCCESS that this somehow qualifies them with 'supernatural wisdom' in 'giving any and all' the advice they need on ANY and ALL subjects. And the scary thing is People Blindly Follow them and Unquestionably Listen!!!
Now, no Physician is an 'expert' in every aspect of the entire vast field of medicine. No one who holds a 'Doctorate' knows 'all there is to know' (though both of the above may be more than proficient in their respective fields). No TEACHER can teach every subject. No QUARTERBACK can win an entire game by himself. And certainly just because someone is an ACTOR means they have a 'qualifier' which makes them wise in 'all other areas' of government or environment – maybe socialism, but that is another article…
Also, on a more personal level. I am a Critical Care Paramedic and have served our Lord in the area of Emergency Medicine for over 30 years. There ARE A LOT of things I can do in the pre-hospital environment in saving lives that even nurses and some doctors cannot do. Things that blow a lot of people's minds. The list and qualifications may impress or inspire even you. And, as a Faculty Member for The American Heart Association® I instruct and certify Doctors, PAs, RNs, Respiratory Therapists, Paramedics, EMTs, First Responders, etc. in the fields of Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Basic Life Support, First Aid, as well as in Advanced Medical Life Support and Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support (just to name a few). But though I am very efficient in many areas, I do NOT know it all NOR would I dare to act or claim such. NOR does it make me more knowledgeable than those I work alongside or instruct. I am simply part of a T.E.A.M. A T.E.A.M. where Together Everyone Accomplishes More' Together, we all provide LIFE-SAVING SKILLS for the best of an individual, or individuals, in our fields when and where we are most needed.
God also has a T.E.A.M. It is called M.O.W.C. – Multitude of Wise Counselors. At NO TIME does He have an indispensible, all-purpose Solo Act, Star Quarterback, or Super Paramedic who knows it all. The same is true in MINISTRY. (See 1 Corinthians 8:1-3).
There are and always will be reoccurring times in our lives when we need support, instruction, guidance and council. Wisdom from others who have been where we are or may have experience and insight for us. People who can walk alongside us.
The PROBLEM occurs when you have that Paramedic/Doctor/Teacher/Pastor/Minister who becomes UNTEACHABLE, or KNOWS IT ALL, who is 'GOD'S GIFT TO (you fill in the blank). For some reason that seems to be occurring more and more in the area of 'Christianity'. Those who are MISUSING their position. People who have become 'proficient' in one or two areas and/or have a Type A or charismatic Personality, now take on the mantle that they are 'all-knowing' in all areas of the Christian Life because of (they feel) their POSITION, SUCCESS, PRESENTATION, POWER, or MINISTRY. AND people are enamored by them and will seek them out almost in a cult-like fashion.
So what do we do? Since no 'ONE PERSON' knows it all or can advise us in all areas, how then do we AVOID by-passing God and His M.O.W.C. T.E.A.M. (Multitude of Wise Counselor Together Everyone Accomplishes More) and stop consistently placing our All-Star Guru of Christianity up on that Proverbial Pedestal of Worship, Adoration, and Unquestionable Loyalty and Information we placed them on?
The answer is pretty simple.
1. Seek your Abba Father's Voice FIRST Answers don't always come as quick as you may want or be the answers you desire or even be what you want to hear. However, God's wisdom is ALWAYS better. And in the midst of our darkest hour, or in the middle of our desert, sometimes God simply wants us to draw into His presence and shadow, next to His Bramble Bush to rely and rest on Him, to hear HIS voice, to TRUST Him and realize that He will guide and sustain us 'one more day'. Day-by-day, moment-by-moment. The desert is where He may want us to be at this time. The key is to walk WITH HIM and TRUST HIM – He WILL make our path or direction clear.
2. Don't Just Look For and Embrace People Who Will Always Agree With You. We're like that. If several people, over a period of time, will give you wise council independently of each other, and most of the time it may be the same, then it might be something to consider. However we MUST realize two things:
1st. There MAY be a time that everyone will have the same advice and it still not be God's will for you to do what they say. Your decision will not contradict or compromise God's Word, and yet, He MAY lead you separately from what others may be thinking. Case in point – Paul regarding God's will for him going up to Jerusalem.
2nd Also there may be times you may reject the council of others because it is not what you really want to hear or do. In reality, you've already made up your mind independent of Scripture or The Holy Spirit's speaking to you. You are just looking for someone to confirm and speak into you what you've already decided and what you want to hear with no intention of hearing God's voice on the matter. Only you can be honest enough with yourself to decide if you are in this DANGEROUS position or not.
3. Be Slow to: (1) Give Advice and (2) Receive Advice.
First, in giving advice: Realize that when we 'Give someone our wisdom or answer' in order to try to help them fix their situation, or tell / direct them in their next step may actually be working AGAINST God. You and I may not be fully aware of what God is doing, or trying to do in their life, and many times we usually just hear 'one side' of the story. It's not that we are 'not' to share, but be slow to speak when we do so.
In fact, personally I have found the more mature, intimate, and Christlike men and women of God become, enjoying His presence, etc., the less quickly they are to even 'give advice'. Often you will hear them respond in ways such as, "What is God telling you? You may just need to wait and hear from Him." [Maybe the reason some of us don't do that is because WE want to be THE ONE they obtain the wisdom from, the one they look to and adore as GOD'S MAN or WOMAN for them or 'for the hour', thus usurping God's place in their lives. [As John Maxwell would say, "Just a thought."]
Second, in Receiving Advice – BE CAREFUL WHO YOU LISTEN TO! God instructs us to seek WISE COUNCIL from a VARIETY and MULTITUDE of people. But in our choosing, there are some things we should know and do. For example:
AVOID 'Know-it-alls' Nobody knows everything. The Scripture recounts this numerous times throughout Its pages. Think about the following...
If you need FINANCIAL WISDOM, then you should seek wisdom from God's Word and council from someone like, Dave Ramsey or Crown Ministries, NOT from someone who cannot handle their money.
If you need PARENTING ADVISE you should seek wisdom from God's Word and from someone with a track record of raising godly children. You would certainly NOT seek so-called 'words of wisdom' from someone who has never had nor raised a child of their own.
If you need help in your MARRIAGE? Again, seek wisdom from His Word and from people who have weathered the storms, honored our Lord, and truly love each other – people with a strong and loving marriage. NOT from a single individual or from those with poor marriages.
God's WILL – seek wisdom from many people in a variety of areas who have heard His voice and seen His hand. Learn first to follow His REVEALED will, moment-by-moment, then listen to others, and then ask what is He speaking to your heart. Certainly do NOT listen to someone who may receive some type of BENEFIT from what they may "share" with you."
LEADERSHIP – Always avoid the council from someone who is worshiped, demands respect, and is constantly being served by others, simply because they lead a large organization, are well known or are popular. Jesus told us how to determine who a true leader is – it is one who SERVES those working alongside him or her. NOT for show, accolades or recognition, but as John The Baptist said, "He must increase, and I must decrease." Or Jesus when He said, "esteem others better than yourself" plus "he that will be first among you will be last." Needless to say, the list can go on-and-on.
4. Test Their Words Is what they are saying really lining up to God's Heart, His Revealed Will and Word? If not, then DON'T listen to them.
I remember one time a "brother" 'felt led to admonish me' regarding several things 'he just knew' were not in my life, things that he felt were short-comings. His motive? Who knows – maybe it boosted his ego or made him feel superior or more spiritual in doing so. Whatever his reasons, what was interesting is that 'what he shared with me' was WRONG on ALL counts even though he was convinced he was right. Go figure, and yet he said, "The Lord told him these things." It makes me wonder which lord he was listening to? Needless to say his council did not mean very much.
5. Watch Their Reactions This is where THE MOST DANGER LIES. If you ever have someone, in any spiritual capacity and one of the following occurs, AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE.
If someone ever 'gives you advice' and you not do exactly 'what' they said, or 'how or when' they wanted you to do it? If their response is that they: 'write you off', judge or condemn you, demean you, speak or look down to/on you, talk about you to others, get angry with or are loud and 'in your face', posture around or against you, yell at you, act more spiritual or more holier-than- thou, justify what they are doing by saying they are 'tough loving' you, or you may hear hints and warnings about "others" who 'failed to head their advice and wisdom", make you 'jump through hoops, fill and meet their agendas to be 'truly accepted' by them, if they try to manipulate you or are spiritually abusing you, or even accuse you of 'questioning their authority', then RUN AWAY FROM THEM as fast as you can. DON'T stay there. FLUSH them and their so-called wisdom from your mind, heart and life and simply follow, love and enjoy God and embrace the loving admonishment from His Word which states that…
"…in the multitude (abundance of, many) counselors [e.g. brothers and sisters with no hidden agendas, no hooks, people who truly are Christlike, and will love and admonish you like Christ selflessly] there is safety."
In other words, Love and Enjoy Him and find HIS M.O.W.C. T.E.A.M.
Friday, April 1, 2011
We've all experienced them at some point or other in our Christian Walk and Life. People who derive some PLEASURE or SELF-WORTH by FEEDING THEIR OWN SELF-CENTERED and SELF-RIGHTEOUS EGO. People who are often dangerous and twisted in their thinking because they feel it is 'GOD'S CALLING' to 'CONTROL' your life - that God Himself has either spoken to them about you or are convinced that THEY always know 'what is best' for you, which decisions you should or shouldn't make and what you should or should not do. They will tell you (or feel in their own minds) that their 'so-called wisdom' comes from God but in reality it is delusional and is actually based on their Position, Power, Popularity, Proportionate size of their ministry Pharisaical standards and emphasis, or their own Personal self-worth, etc. (Forgive me, I'm still trying to overcome the 'preacher thing' of starting everything with the same letter...:0)
And Heaven help you if for some reason you ever QUESTION that individual or FAIL TO HEED THEM (what we mean by that is that if you fail to 'OBEY' them.) Because if and when you don't, they will DEMEAN and BERATE you, THINK LESS of you, WRITE YOU OFF, and perhaps even BREAK FELLOWSHIP and OSTRACIZE you because you dared to fail and ADHERE to their WISDOM and in many situations, the DEMANDS they placed on your life. And you WILL become an EXAMPLE they readily share with others to help in their control, at least will be the object of their DISDAIN and 'wrath' until you either succumb to their CONTROL or TWISTED form of reasoning and / or 'GET BACK ON-BOARD.' (even though in their own minds they are convinced they are always right).
In my almost 40 years of personal study on the Cults, the Occult, Cultic Leaders, Mind Control &Manipulation, and the dangers of Spiritual Abuse, as well as acquiring a massive library also in these areas over these years, I would like to share with you some insights I have learned along the way. Not only from my Study, by at times, sadly, in the life of "hard knocks." Things I can impart to you so you too can be aware of Warning Signs to WATCH OUT FOR in order to protect you, your family and friends.
In order to keep this blog from being 'too long', it will be published in several different posts. Let me encourage you, as they come out: Read them, Study them and Pass them on and Share them with others. These blogs will not be comprehensive in their presentations, for in doing so, that in and of itself would constitute a book. However, what you do receive will be the Reader's Digest® portion of each area - 'meat' you can chew on and then digest.
If you would like to correspond with me on this journey, share your story, disagree with me (yes, of course you can do so), or simply want to 'talk further', you may do so by writing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, and of course, here on also on Facebook®.
Also, in this process over the next couple of months I will share additional resources and materials that you may obtain to better inform and equip you in order to: (1) Avoid these traits in both your Life and Ministry (sadly we are creatures of habit and "self", and in our zeal and misplaced 'sincerity', we may inadvertently allowed things to creep in to our lives without realizing they are happening, taken root, and brought forth evil fruit in our lives and ministry, as well as the need to (2) Avoid those individuals and ministries like the plague who continue to exhibit, embrace and practice these same traits in their hearts and lives on a regular basis.
So stay tuned, as we journey on this road together looking at Control Freaks…
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The Wisdom Of a Child's Song…
Not a lot of 'verbiage' in this blog. But the other morning, getting ready for work, a song we used to sing in Children's Church impacted me in a tremendous way. I was in the shower singing it (I'll spare you the details), but the EMPHASIS and TRUTH of the song overwhelmed me, over-and-over-and-over 'til tears filled my eyes, and God's love ministered to the very depths of my soul in brokenness, adoration, and understanding, as I worshiped before God's throne.
I guess it was brought about from several conversations I have had over the last few days with a variety of Christians from different ministries, 'churches' and from various parts of the country; and some of it, well some of it I simply just "overheard", (ok, I'll be honest, I was eaves-dropping, give me a break). Either way, my spirit, soul, whatever you want to call it, has really become 'grieved' and 'saddened' because of it. And what I've come to understand is that maybe (no probably), the reason I am so sensitive and attuned to it is because for so many years, in my ignorance, or zeal, and perhaps just plain stupidity, I have been guilty of the very same thing.
God's Love Letter, The Bible, tells me that "Out of the abundance (the overflow, whatever is in our heart, fills our heart, the very focus) of our heart, the mouth speaks." And what I HEAR coming consistently out of the majority of Christians, ministers, and pastors, etc. hearts and mouths is everything BUT Jesus.
Oh, we talk about, 'church', our services / buildings / facilities / programs, somebody's 'anointing' / message, our pastors / praise team / choir; our accomplishments / goals / visions; our size / numbers; or the latest event and function. Sadly, the list can, and does, go on-and-on. WHY do we do it? If we are going to be HONEST with OURSELVES then it is because THAT is what FILLS our hearts, it is our FOCUS, and therefore, that is what we SPEAK.
EVERYTHING ELSE… FILLS our heart and is our FOCUS BUT… The One who died for us, JESUS CHRIST. We are in love with THINGS about Him, instead of being in love WITH HIM.
Maybe children really 'get it'. Maybe somewhere along the line, we 'lost it.' Maybe we ought to let God recapture our hearts once again "as little children." And let HIM refocus us where HE becomes our FOCUS. And let HIM refill us where HE FILLS our hearts. And when we do, maybe, just maybe, we, as the ones who claim to 'know and love Him', THEN out of the abundance of our hearts will come, simply "JESUS", instead of everything else.
Oh, and you've probably already figured out the song 'that came to me' in the shower. It goes something like this…
"Let's TALK about JESUS
The King of kings is He,
The Lord of lords supreme
The Great I AM The Way,
The Truth, The Life, The Door
Let's TALK about JESUS, more and more."
Monday, July 12, 2010
"When 'THAT' Phone Call Comes"
Subtitled: "Hey (your name), Do you have a couple of minutes?"
Perhaps if you are a Child of God, in the past, and more than likely in the near future, you will receive a phone call that goes something like this:
"Hey (your name)! Have you got a few minutes? I was just thinking about you the other day. I know how successful you have been in the past, and still are in (your business) and I've just gotten involved in this tremendous company / opportunity / business that is looking to expand in our area and I would like your "opinion" on it and run some ideas by you. It may or may not be for you, but I would like to take a few minutes of your time to show it to you. Since it's hard to draw a conclusion without getting all the information up-front, would Wednesday or Thursday be better for you?"
Ever heard something similar to this? You probably have. If not, chances are you will. And when you do you just became the "latest target" of someone who is zealous for their latest Network Marketing / Multi-level Marketing Company (MLM) that they have become involved in.
Now, what does it mean when you pick up that phone and hear those words above? Well, almost like a cult they dangle the bait out in front of you so they can then 'put you through their system the correct way'. Now, I am NOT saying the MLM IS a cult. But they will "hide" from you the complete picture (in order that you can 'get the true message – at least the message they want you to hear until you are 'hooked'). Later on, you find out, as Paul Harvey says, "The rest of the story".
So, the real question is, what do they REALLY MEAN when you hear those words and what can you EXPECT if you 'take the plunge' into MLM? To answer that question, let me expand the opening conversation you SHOULD receive if every person that approaches that is involved in MLM was actually "up front with you" as they should be. Or simply as The Scripture says, "providing things HONEST in the sight of ALL men".
You ready? Here goes: "Hey (your name!) Have you got a few minutes (though in reality when you see what I've seen this will envelop and control your life for years to come changing the way you think, the hours you spend, and where you will put your priorities. Now I' know you have been successful, because that's why I'm calling you in the hopes that you will also be successful in my company and personal downline. What I'm about to share with you may or may not be for you, but if you're as intelligent as I am and see what I saw, there is no question that you will get involved…
…Since I've signed on the bottom line and spent this money to get involved in this Network Marketing / Multi-level Marketing Company, which I believe is THE BEST MLM COMPANY in all the world (because I believe it has THE BEST marketing plan & system [Oh, and I've been involved in a bunch of others before now AND I've checked all the other ones that are out there and currently I REALLY DO BELIEVE (now, though in the past I believed it was actually another company, but that was then) that this ACTUALLY IS THE BEST ONE with the best PRODUCT(S) / SYSTEM, PAY PLAN etc. over any other, (and I need you to spend the same amount of money I did also)…
…And I REALLY DO BELIEVE you can save money AND make a LOT OF MONEY – why? Because if you can find a couple of "go-getters" just like you, as I'm hoping to do with you] so we can get people "hooked" on using OVER-PRICED products (so we can pay commission back several levels down and we will do so by convincing them to be faithful to the business and use only our products and services to send out the right message by replacing everything in your house with our stuff and convince them we are being Good Stewards of God's money by overspending and asking others to do the same so we can all share that commission)…
…And in the process of our building this business TOGETHER I can (as also you can), will be able to MISUSE our influence, testimony, walk with God, and ministry (even though in doing so we may actually be 'taking the name of our Lord in vain – thus misrepresenting God and His emphasis) – and may even perhaps be prostituting to you the idea that you would be HELPING OUR (or someone else's) MINISTRY to 'free us up' to do more for God by your getting involved and using the product(s) / services we provide…
…Also causing you to spend more money than you will make by also attending weekend functions four or five times a year (that cost a couple between $800 and $1,000 dollars to attend – not including finding someone to watch the kids while we're away from them - which you HAVE TO ATTEND IF YOU'RE SERIOUS ABOUT THE BUSINESS because all the movers and shakers and winners go to these, but not the losers, in order to obtain that multi-million dollar training from other multi-million dollar winners, by INVESTING in your life and future – (and the speakers do get an honorarium when they speak, plus it helps their business, also), oh and when you leave the functions you will find that it will be THE MOST motivational, impacting, life-changing time of your life, almost a religious worship-type experience that you'll ever attend!...
…Even though after two years of being in the business there are proven statistics that 98% of everyone involved in MLM, if you were to look at their W-2 forms, will actually LOSE MONEY in, and building the "business", but that's okay, because look at all the tax deductions you get for the potential of, but actually in the long haul, not making money…
…Anyway I was thinking about you (because I'm going through my list as fast as I can go [because that's what my upline taught me to do, to not prejudge anyone, but to use my circle of influence, especially in and with my ministry, position, etc. and of course, GOD, (because He is SO behind our company, pay plan, and business) in order to get as many people involved as I can, (but it's not only who I know, but who you know, and who they know, ad infinity)…
…And oh, what they will tell me and you later is that even though we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and enjoy fellowshipping together now, we will be taught that we will have to get new friends and 'relatives' – mainly because since we become like those we hang around, I can no longer afford to waste my time with you if you don't get involved, because after all, if you don't see what I see, well, then need I say more, because I won't be able to fellowship any more with negative stinking thinking people no matter who they are (and it's not that I won't love you anymore, I just won't have the time to show you) AND what I have yet to realize is that most of my friends and relatives won't want to spend time with me or be around me later either because I will have been brainwashed into seeing them as stinkin' thinkin' negative people and thinkers – who will also get tired of the only thing I want to talk about, the majority of the time is the business and trying to get them involved…
…And since "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" I'll outwardly 'talk about the Lord', but THE BUSINESS will be what continually comes out of my mouth and heart. So the days of when we used to get together and truly fellowship in our Lord, if you don't get involved, we won't actually do that anymore, and I'll actually use Scriptures out of context to convince myself that what we are doing is Biblical (even though it won't be)…
…Oh, in and in regards to the functions- you'll just have to go, because (even though LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE MLM Company in the US propagates the SAME THING, even though their company is bad and inferior while only ours is the best) these rallies are so mind blowing, fantastic emphasizing Patriotism, The American Dream (which is actually what we have to do by finding out what you really want - when I talk to you about this, or we sit down, or you attend a 'business opportunity', or watch my DVD and talk to my "friends on the phone calls to substantiate what I can't yet"…
…Because in SELLING THE DREAM we have to make you disillusioned and dissatisfied with what God is doing in your life NOW and where HE has you to mold you and make you, what we have to do is make you COVET more money, bigger homes, the beaches of the world, and how GOD can use this to make you prosperous [even though I will find that if I can't budget and honor God with what we are making NOW, more money will only help us to perpetuate our lack of control of finances but just at a higher level and reveal the true thoughts and intents of our heart] - (and we'll even tag on in our presentation about being able to 'give more to missions and the Lord' (or charities), though most NEVER DO)…
...And understand that even though Christ says "In this world you will have trials / tribulation", we will refuse to believe that so what we will do is technically 'LIE' by presenting and posturing ourselves as where we WANT to be even though we AREN'T, and of course we'll pull out those 'name-it-and-claim-it, prosperity verses' ignoring those verses like Hebrews 11, Paul's suffering in 2 Corinthians, etc.) because, wow, just think what the early NT Christians and Paul could have done for our Lord and how they could have accomplished so much more if they or he had just had an opportunity like this, that's why in these "last days" God is pouring out His Holy Spirit and blessings in and through and on OUR COMPANY (and when you become 'enlightened' you will understand this also)…
…And NOW is THE RIGHT TIME for you to get involved, in fact there is no better time in history than RIGHT NOW, (and if you don't then you'll be left behind and one day look back and remember this day and it will haunt you for the rest of your life) – that's why you will have to begin right away LISTENING to the CDs / DVDs and READING BOOKS thus changing the way you THINK and SPEAK (you know, 'fake it til you make it', speaking into existence the cars, homes, motor homes, etc. you want – some call this a New Age mindset, but they are just unenlightened), and yes, our upline DOES make a lot of money on these 'tools', but hey, you ARE investing in your future, aren't you…
Oh, and we will also convince you of the importance of neglecting your children's ballgames, plays, and school events, along with spending time with your family NOW – we will be able to convince you that it is 'WORTH IT' – of how you must listen to the instruction of your upline over the voices and heart of your FAMILY, the very ones God places in your care - because you will be investing in their future – and they 'just don't understand' (of course, we'll never tell you about the homes that do break up, the affairs that do happen – because of men and women working together, bonding without their spouses, the financial hardships that do occur with those who just aren't serious and as committed, the love for money overshadowing their love for the Lord. (and in your mind confuse and combine the two)…
… You see to really make it in this business you will have to eat, drink, sleep, and breathe this business NOW for only the next 2 to 5 years and THEN you will have THE RESIDUAL INCOME (e.g. "easy street" because you can 'pay now and play later, or play now and pay later, but either way you're gonna pay") [though we won't tell you that more people will actually LEAVE the business than stay in (until you get to a higher pin level of course, and then you will be instructed in all this), and you never will have TRUE residual income (you can maybe take longer vacations and/or a month or two off, but YOU'D BETTER NOT walk away from this business and quit building it because it will literally fall apart…
…Oh, and if you make it to one of the top levels, you can then propagate all sorts of personal stuff off on your downline and 'make a killing' [CD's of your spouse singing, other "ideas" or "gadgets", books you've written, motivational CDs/DVDs you will produce, etc. the sky's the limit!} – and if you don't think it will fall apart, there is always the danger of YOUR GROUP leaving you for a 'better' MLM plan, company, idea "down the road" (as misguided as they will be, of course) and you will be financially devastated, so you'll always just have to KEEP THEM WORKING, and MOTIVATED and YOU CONSTANTLY WORKING but that's okay, because it's better than that old 'J.O.B; (right?!)…
…So even though you will sacrifice time away from your family and friends for that "one day" DREAM VACATION and "one day" FREEDOM to have that TIME TOGETHER with your family, that you could be INVESTING IN NOW, but don't think you can, so you'll take what little time you do have and make excuses for it now, breaking your kids' hearts, disappointing them regularly for that next event, justifying all this in your mind, causing disappointment with your children, but MAYBE one day they'll understand (?) that because you can give them more THINGS, THEN when you didn't take the time to spend with them NOW WHEN THEY NEEDED IT and the importance of GIVING OF YOURSELF that somehow, one day, those 'THINGS' will all make up for it (yes, the Scripture says, "we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out", but remember, "God gives us ALL ***THINGS*** "RICHLY" to enjoy, so we need to get BIGGER and BETTER and MORE THINGS then, don't we, but don't worry, maybe the family will be able to sort it all out, maybe they will perhaps grab "that what you are SAYING is more important than what you LIVED before them"…
…And be sure that we will show you how the Top Producers seem to have achieved what we long for and they will tell you that EVERYONE can do it too, even though THE NUMBERS NEVER PLAY OUT, perhaps you can be ONE OF THE FEW who can speak on stages, walking the beaches of the world, impacting a downline – in essence giving them a FALSE HOPE - so even though there is NO WAY you can comprehend all of this right now, and even though, in a way, you'll be pimping and prostituting your fellow Christians (making them almost like 'Christina Hookers' – using them for selfish gain – though you will mentally convince yourself that it is actually for their own good one way or the other – and if not, then they just didn't 'buy into the dream' and weren't serious enough about 'working the business' and 'being a part of your team') and even your non-Christians "friends" (at least for just a little time longer), and in reality you'll be misrepresenting God to those who do and don't know Christ, and even though you won't be able to LOOK at anyone ever the same again, especially at Church because people will become "prospects" the Holy Spirit can 'lead you to' instead of Brothers and Sisters in Christ to love simply… "WITHOUT A HOOK"…
…And even though people will SHUN YOU because they won't feel like they can approach you anymore without your trying to prostitute / proselyte them into your new company / business / system – so you've lost the freedom to simply share with them God's heart (without sitting there figuring out how 'down the road' you can now USE THIS as a tool / stepping stone into having them join your team and thus building your business and making you wealthy)…
…My question for you now, and what I am REALLY EXCITED to share with you and ask you is 'Would Tuesday night at 6 p.m., or Thursday at 7 p.m. be better for you?"
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Journal Entry: Jerusalem 108 AD – "Hungry Children"
Dear Journal: It is hard to believe that 40 years have passed since Paul has left us. Over forty years since that encounter he had with our Lord on the road to Damascus, followed by years of fruitful ministry and many hardships. Paul is now with the Lord in Heaven and we carry on in his place. Our lives were touched by his compassion and heartbeat. That is what drives us.
I remember Timothy telling us many of the stories about Paul, the lives he touched and the ministries he started. One of which I am carrying on still today. There are so many homeless and hungry children with no one it seems who cares. Well, actually they do. But until Paul began collecting monies from followers of The Way and strategically placing those funds where needed, many of those needs went unmet. At first, it was a few locations 'here and there', but as we've become more organized, it now seems that so many more lives are collectively impacted, on a long-term basis.
Paul passed the baton onto Timothy, and now, he to me. But here lately, I find my travels are becoming harder. This old body doesn't recover like it use to. I foresee soon how the day will come when I may be unable to perform all that is required to keep this ministry going, the long miles, the endless hours, time away from home takes its toll on a man. These sacrifices though are now well worth it for The Master. But it has played more on my mind with my wondering, "Lord, what will I do? How will my needs be met?"
This has plagued me for some time. And then one day, it was as if the Lord Himself opened my mind with a vision, or was it a revelation? I wonder, but the clarity of it became real to me of how not only to impact so many more lives, but also how to provide for myself as I grow weaker and older.
First, what has transpired since that morning in my tent is that I have obtained the help of other Believers who are also in the service for our Lord. They too are now sharing this burden to feed the homeless and hungry children around our world. Many of these Followers have become 'well known' in our Messiah's movement and have much influence. They have partnered with me, almost like a network, in spreading this much needed message to every town and village. Because of their efforts, many, many more are now helping to support, these, God's little children. What was it our Lord said, "What you do to the least of these, you do also to me", yes, that's it.
Second, these 'servants of God' in helping me further this ministry, while still performing their own calling, they too have expenses. At times they go without. I have found, by taking a 'portion' of the regular amount collected that has been 'promised to the children', and giving to 'help support and provide to offset their needs, results in the very ones who are spreading this word', motivating them and increasing the zeal of their message. This has resulted in more and more monies coming in. Thus the more they share, the more people give. The more people give, the greater their stipend. For some, the amount they receive is becoming a very substantial amount.
Yes, it is true we don't share with those who are giving to the children, that part of their grace giving goes to the actual person who is collecting those funds, but as His Word says, "They who preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel", and in reality, NOT telling the contributors causes less 'trouble' than trying to explain that to them "up-front".
Third, of course there are expenses for myself and those who serve alongside me also. Though most of the time a significant portion of what is given is still going to the children, it seems that it is taking more and more to creatively 'spread the word' into new areas, establish new overseers to distribute the food and funds, provide incomes for them, etc. At times I wonder if this is what Paul had in mind when he began all of this?
Finally, I am excited to see how this is what The Lord will use to help me retire, or rather I should say, meet all my family's needs as I enter my twilight years; or if some injury or illness prevents me from further travel. In fact, I hate to say, with the amount of monies coming in, even with supporting thousands of hungry and homeless children around the world as an international ministry, our finances will no longer be a problem. Praise Yahweh!
Recently we had the pleasure of meeting a successful businessman by the name of Demas. He shared with us that if we would use some of the proceeds to bring Elders from various cities to see our work, as well as 'honoring' the larger collectors of funds by bringing these two groups to 'the field' to visit the children and see first-hand how they have, or can, 'make a difference', that this would more than quadruple revenues coming in so we would be able to support more children. One of his slogans is, "The ends justify the means". I am not sure if this is part of Adonai's recorded words or not, but it sure makes sense, and it works.
Journal, something unusual happened the other day as I was traveling through Sinai. I met a caravan and presented them with the need we share and asked them if they would like to give. They asked me some pointed questions regarding the actual distribution of our funds. There was something in the man's eyes with whom I spoke that made me want to be honest with him, so I told him what we were doing. He thanked me, but then declined the offer! He said something about another follower of The Way, I think they said he goes by the name "Christian", he's from somewhere over around Antioch, and this man is also feeding the hungry and homeless children. He keeps no denari for himself, nor does he give any of the proceeds to others. He shared that every single coin he collects, all of it goes to the children. Any personal or ministry expense that is accrued is provided for in a different and separate way. Imagine that!
Still, there are fleeting moments I question if what we are doing is truly ethical and completely honest with God's people, and before our Lord. After all, what if those that were distributing the funds and food to the children did it simply because they loved the Lord? What if others in God's family would present this without remuneration because that is simply what our Lord would have done? What if we trusted God to provide in some other way rather than 'robbing', maybe I should say 'taking', a portion out of the mouths of these children? What if every denari that someone gave really, completely went to the children? I wonder how many more lives could we really impact and touch?
But then… When I look at all we have accomplished, when I see how "prosperous & successful" everything is, I conclude, surely this is a sign of God's blessings, isn't it? Oh well, it is working, and there are a lot more children out there who need to be fed, and there a whole lot more people who can give.
Until the next time, Journal, Shalom.