Burn Out Pastors: The Problem, The Cause and the Solution


a-case-of-burnout

The Main Responsibility of a Pastor

            Hebrews 13:17 tells us “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (KJV) If the soul is the seat of our emotions, if our minds are housed in our souls and if our will also springs-out of our souls, we can say that the pastor’s hands are very, very full. The pastor deals with the emotions of his people so they can live a life filled with joy, peace and purpose. He teaches them how to think like Christ and, how to surrender their wills to God. However, something is terribly wrong when the pastor himself is walking around with a hurting soul.

The Problem

            On August of 2010 the New York Times conducted a study and found that 33% of pastors felt burn out within the first five years of ministry. 57 % of pastor said that they would leave ministry if they could. 80% of pastors said that they have insufficient time with their spouses. 80% stated that pastoral ministry has affected their family negatively. 1,500 pastors leave ministry every month due to burn out. (Last accessed 9/13/2017): http://www.pastorburnout.com/pastor-burnout-statistics.html

What is the Cause of the Problem?

            There are many reasons why pastors get burn out such as lack of balance between family and ministry (McMinn: 2015, p. 564); Bolsinger calls this, “…unhealthy professional boundaries between pastors and their congregation.” (Bolsinger, 2015) Bolsinger goes as far as stating that most pastors LOVE a good pastoral care crisis; that the idea of the need to be needed feeds many their ego (Bolsinger, 2015). Also, another cause for pastor’s burn out is the unhealthy expectations placed on them by their own congregations (Bolsinger, 2015). Bolsinger conclude his article by stating that the main reason for pastor’s burning out is “…because we have lost our wholeheartedness about pastoral ministry.” (Last accessed 9/13/2017): http://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-how-to/247954-true-cause-pastoral-burnout.html.

            As powerful and logical as these reasons may sound, the root cause for pastor burning out is the little and, in some cases, lack of prayer life and lack of time in the study and meditation of God’s Word. McMinn identifies that spiritual dryness and no time to study or be alone is one of the stressors that clergy is facing. (McMinn, 2015, p. 564). Prayer is the foundation of not only ministry, but the Christian life. There are countless Old and New Testament verses to support the fact that God encourages us to pray; it is part of having a relationship with Him. How can we say that we have a relationship with God if we do not pray? Jesus say, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NKJV) There is absolutely no rest for our souls without nurturing our relationship with God. Jesus also establishes that remaining in his Word is a requirement and evidence that we are his disciples (John 8:31).

            As I read and research for this forum it gives me the impression that prayer is seen “just” as one more tool amongst many, that is able to resolve the issue of pastors burning out. “The amount of time spend in prayer and personal devotions raises questions about the vitality of many pastors’ spiritual life.” (Stetzer, 2009) He continues by stating that 52% of pastor reported that they spend one to six hours in prayer a week. 5% are reporting that they do not spend any time in prayer, while 14% admit to spending less than an hour a week in prayer (Last accessed 9/12/2017): http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2009/december/how-protestant-pastors-spend-their-time.html

            Prayer is the key, the foundation and the tool that access the power of God for ministry. Without prayer, what are we really doing? On the other hand, neglecting our families for the sake of ministry placed us in a category of worse than non-saved people according First Timothy 5:8. Lastly, Pretending to be what are not or pretending that we can accomplish what we are unable to do without God is also a monumental violation of Scripture. It is amazing to me to see the transparency of Paul in Romans chapter 7 where he admits doing the evil that he did not want to do; he openly described the struggle between the Spirit in him and his own flesh to the point of calling himself a wretched man. The pretending and allowing people to place us in a pedestal brings a lot of stress in the long run; why? Because it is not real, is indeed a lie.

Solutions

            In Luke 21 Jesus describes the culture of the last days, the terribly signs in nature that will take place and the persecution that God’s people will suffer. It is not a pretty picture. We know that even as Jesus knew that the disciples would not be around during those days he was describing; the disciples were going to be victims of great persecution themselves. In Luke 21:19 Jesus expressed the following, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” (KJV). We will use this verse as the focal point to answer the following five questions.

What does it mean to “Possess My Soul through Self-Care and Mentorship?

            By these words Jesus is giving them the ability to bounce back or resilience. At the same time our resiliency is of great testimony for he world (Last Accessed 9/14/2017) https://learn.liberty.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-18548914-dt-content-rid-168760391_1/courses/PACO500_B07_201740/Presentations/Module%203/Possessing%20My%20Soul.html

            To possess our souls is to keep our souls under control and from coming crumbling down when facing life troubles. Therefor we see great wisdom here; in order for us to prepare for the tough times we must remain in God’s Word. The same can be said about prayer when Jesus states, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 (NKJV) To persevere until the end is also a sign of our commitment to Christ (Matthew 10:22).

What is the overarching purpose of “Possessing My Soul?”

            All points to Christ, by possessing or having my soul under control I can fulfill my hallmark statement, my committed to be a disciple of Christ by honoring his Word above my opinions (John 8:31), by becoming an imitator of his heart and behaviors (Ephesians 5:1), by looking up to Jesus in every aspect of my life (Hebrews 12:2) and by using all of my gifts for his glory and for the service of people (1 Peter 4:10-11).

What are the current self-care/resiliency themes being discussed in the readings and literature?

            Through all the reading I completed for this paper there is support for prayer and the study of God’s Word as key and essential factor in achieving resiliency. Family must be second only after God. Also other resources were provided such as: http://www.healingchoice.org a Christian umbrella organization for several types of therapeutic care. http://www.sheperd-care.org a nonprofit organization that focus on the health of the minister’s soul and, http://www.ministrymentors.org.

How does one identify, solicit, and engage mentorship? What self-care and mentorship strategy best fits your current soul-care context?

            I gave my life to Christ when I was 29 years old; I am now 49; I have learned that as long as I do not neglect my relationship with God, the study and meditation of His Word and, as long as I keep my wife and family first after God, all is well with my soul. The times that I placed entertainment, bad relationships and even ministry before God and family things did not go well for me. Everything starts with my solitude with God that I treasure so much. That solitude makes me a better husband, a better father, a better son and a better friend. The next level is the special place that my pastor has in my life; he is far away in Mexico, but through technology we are able to stay in contact. The next level is to be in close friendship with strong Christian men. Warren proposed that every pastor need four types of people in his life: 1) Models: people to look up to. These people, according to Warren can also include death heroes of the faith. 2) Co-workers; these are people that are there to help you in the work if the ministry. 3) Good old friends; people you can trust; Warren recommends other pastors. (4) Mentors; these are people who are further alone in ministry and are able to teach you a thing or two. (Last accessed 9/13/2017) http://pastors.com/4-types-of-people-every-pastor-needs-in-his-life Out of these healthy relationships I am able to minster freely, with great joy and resilience.

 

Reference

Bolsinger, T. The true cause of pastoral burnout (2015). Retrieved from http://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-how-to/247954-true-cause-pastoral-burnout.html

McMinn, M.R., Lish, A.R., Trice, P.D., Root, A.M., Gilbert, N. & Yap, A. Care for pastors: Learning from clergy and their spouses. Pastoral Psychology, (July 2005).

Pastor Burnout Statistics. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.pastorburnout.com/pastor-burnout-statistics.html.

Possessing my Soul Through Self-Care and Mentoring. Retrieved from https://learn.liberty.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-18548914-dt-content-rid-168760391_1/courses/PACO500_B07_201740/Presentations/Module%203/Possessing%20My%20Soul.html.

Stezer, Ed. (2009). How Protestant Pastors Spend Their Time. Retrieved from http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2009/december/how-protestant-pastors-spend-their-time.html

 

 

Supporters of Hate


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A Republican or a Democrat is not necessarily filled with hate because of their political affiliation. A disagreement is not hate. We are using and abusing the word hate as much as we are using and abusing the word racist.

            On the other side of each ideologies is where hate is found; why? Because all ideologies are manmade; all ideologies are the product of the god of this world; the devil himself (2 Corinthians 4:4). That is why we need to keep our eyes on Christ and not on anything the world has to offer.

            The problem is that a democrat easily recognizes the hate on the extreme right and a republican easily recognizes the hate on the extreme left, but both are unable to denounce the hate on their own extremes. They serve an agenda; a selfish agenda! But I have news for you: the street of Chicago are filled with hate, when a brother kills another brother that is hate; gangs are filled with hate, terrorism is hate, any religion that promotes killing and violence is hate, when a father refuses to discipline their children that is hate (Proverbs 13:24), domestic violence is hate, abortion is hate, Black Lives Matters promoting the killing of police officers is hate, police officers harassing and killing minorities just because the color of their skin is hate, talking about killing our president is hate, not praying for our government, but promoting resistance and rebelliousness is hate, calling our own men the “N” word and our own women the “B” word is hate; making music that promotes killing and violence is hate. Should I keep going?

            So HATE has to be denounced everywhere with zero compromises. When you are willing to denounce hate everywhere you are courageous; when you don’t, you are a coward. When we only denounce hate on the other side of the fence, but refuse to do the same on our own side, we are filled with hypocrisy and supporters of the same hate we are denouncing.

What is the Condition of your Heart?


     A preacher, just like everybody else, likes to see results. We like to see progress in people; we like to see them growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord; we like to see them make right decisions and learn how to successfully deal with temptations. As fathers and pastors, we have a biblical mandate to watch over the souls of our people according to Hebrews 13:17. We love to see our people prospering as their souls prosper. A prosperous soul is a healthy soul; a soul with stable emotions, a soul that even in their struggles strives to do God’s will and a soul with a sound mind and the ability to make good decisions. But just like everybody else; we get hurt when we don’t see fruit manifesting in the people we are called to preach and teach. Is in moments like this that I like to take a deeper look at the heart condition of folks.

     The condition of your heart today will determine if what I am about to teach will or will not be effective in your life. In my life in general I am called to stay pray up and with God’s grace, pursue His will and watch my testimony. My job today and every time I preach and teach is to preach and teach his Word. When I do that is no longer my message, but His; when I do that, is no longer me, but I become a vessel of clay use by God to communicate HIS message. But the rest is on you! You decide what you want to do with this information according to the condition of your heart. In Luke 8:4-15 Jesus tells us,

4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?” 10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that
‘Seeing they may not see,
And hearing they may not understand.’
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. (NKJV)

     First, Jesus is speaking to a multitude and he chose to speak in parables (That means that he uses stories, allegories, etc. to communicate his message.) He does not speak the message openly; the message can only be understood by divine revelation. This message is not designed for everybody to understand; is designed for those who God call to be able to understand. If you, right now, understand what I am saying, you are blessed; but for a lost person, they will have a hard time listening to this message. Second, he is no longer with the crown, but now he is with the disciples and this is the time when he exclusively teaches them. There is a place where all of us must go to Jesus in our secret places to allow Him to teach us His Word.

Today, I want you to take your eyes off of me and focus in what the Lord is trying to tell you; however, the condition of your heart will determine your level of understanding or lack of understanding. Going back to Luke 8:11-15 Jesus clearly explain this parable. He explained that the seed on this parable is the Word of God. This is what I am giving you guys today, God’s Word; there is no other seed that is able to change your life. Here Jesus gives us 4 Different Heart Conditions:

1. The wayside (V 12)

     This is a hard heart! Nothing gets through this heart. You can talk to these folks until you are blue to your face and NOTHING, absolutely nothing will happen. They don’t change a thing. This is a heart that has been trample on over and over and nothing grows. Notice those places where people or animals constantly walk through; nothings grow there. That is the exact description of this heart! They allow everything and everybody into their lives. If it feels good; they do it. No conviction of sin, no morals and no pursue of holiness.

     When you speak to this group of folks, you will get frustrated if you are not careful. They are in our churches; they are in our local congregations. It may be a husband that goes to church, just because his wife makes him do it. It may be a wife that goes to church just because her husband pushes the issue. It may be teenagers and young adults still living with their parents, who feel force to go. Some have gotten use to, some even serve in ministries; some know how to sing well, some memorize a few Scripture; some even preach; but they have absolutely no fruit. They don’t Study Scripture, they don’t pray, they don’t worship God, they don’t even think about Him and, believe me when I tell you, you never hear God in their conversations. There is absolutely no sign of life; no fruit; they are dead; they are lost! These folks need to get saved.

2. A heart with temporary excitement (Verse 13)

     The heart of these folks is a little softer than the first group; the seed actually grows some here, but is never able to develop strong roots. These are folks that either received a water down message and got exited about that or, received the actual Gospel, but were never disciple. We have a mandate to make disciples, but in a study it shows that here in the United States the great majority of pastors and leaders believe that people can be disciple on their own. Never mind that Jesus tells us to “make disciples.” We have a mandate to teach these folks the ways of the Lord; to equip them, to prepare them for life; but they are weak and have no roots. As soon as the first temptation comes they fall headfirst.

     These are folks that want to immediately testify in the church; they want to preach, do this and do that; but move away from God very easily. That is why we have to be careful; because this group look and sound like Christians, but if we do not give them time to go through the discipleship process and for them to bear fruit, they become a stumbling block for new believers. People want to give testimony without going through any test; this group is unable to overcome any test because they are still not rooted in Christ; many are still playing games.

     When you go back and study church history you will find out that back in the days of the church fathers; the folks that came after the original disciples, they established as a rule to wait six months before baptizing anybody. The reason they did that was because there was so much foolishness going on that they wanted to wait and see if those conversions were real. They figured people can fake, but for so long!

     It is amazing that when you take a look at the First Great Awakening in America, the fruit was everywhere. This is a time when America was indeed great; that is because the First Great Awakening gave America conviction of sin. America started looking at their own mess such as slavery. That conviction started in the church buildings; they were in the “church” but were lost. Everything started with Jonathan Edwards famous sermon: Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God. The Second Awakening was all about emotionalism; thousands of people gather to listen to revivalist; but the soon they came, the soon they left; no fruit. They were hearts with temporary excitement; eager to look for the next new thing.

3. A heart who refuses to let go of the world (V14)

     This group is very similar to the second group; neither is able to bear fruit. We need to understand that Jesus stated that we shall know them by their fruit. As the second group falls with the first temptation; this group is a little more complex; they fall over three things specifically: 1) the cares, 2) the riches, and 3) pleasures of life. These are folks in the church who worry all the time (They have no faith). How can you please God if you have no faith? These are folks who put riches and the pleasures of this world above God. They call themselves Christians, but they look more like secular folks. They talk and walk just like the world. These folks have been apparently walking with Jesus, but are never able to mature; that is because they insist in mixing their faith with the things of this world.

     The Bible is clear that we can’t serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) Notice that you can only go so far before you start either hating God or the world; but you can’t ever love both. God does not want half of you; God wants your entire heart. I believe that our churches are full of these folks; perhaps this is the largest group and the one that is doing more damage. Perhaps this is the group that Jesus refers to in Revelation 18:4 when he states, “…Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins…” These are the folks that water down the Gospel. In church history, this mixing has been taking place since the very beginning. Mixing the gospel with reason and knowledge, with philosophy and then Constantine really took it to another level as he mixed the church with government. As a matter of fact, he placed the church under the government; that is why you have preachers that in the name of fame, power and money compromise God’s Word all the time. There is nothing new under the sun!

4. A Good and Noble heart (V 15)

     This is a heart with morals. This is a heart with Godly conviction. This is not a perfect heart, but it is a heart that is allowing God to change him or her. The fruit here visible. This is a heart that endures the tribulations of life with patience; they don’t allow temptations, the cares or the pleasures of this world to move them away from their faith in God. Oh I wish everybody I minister to already have this heart; but that is not reality!

Conclusion

     So as preachers we must take a good look at our people and at our own families. Don’t assume that because they grew up in the church they have good and humble hearts towards the Lord. We need to minister to them where they are at. The first three groups are not save; they will split hell wide open. Sometimes we confuse talent with salvation. We think that because somebody can sing or preach or play an instrument somehow someway they have a free ticket to heaven. I have news for you; every human being has gifts and talents; but only through Christ are we are saved. If we don’t repent of our sins, if we don’t call Christ in our hearts and receive Him not only as Savior, but as Lord, we are lost.

     Every day of your life God gives you mercy; giving you time to repent, but that time will run out; death will come and after death is judgment. There are no second changes after you are dead; you have a chance now that you are alive. There will be a time that God will not be found. Oh I know many of us will weep in heaven when we find out that many of our friends and love ones did not make it to the New Jerusalem. I can’t only imagine the pain we will feel in our hearts. But God will wipeout our tears and in his immense power will make our hearts right to fully enjoy heaven in spite of eternally lost love ones. What is the condition of your heart?

     As preachers, is important that we know where people are at so that we can pray accordantly and also deliver the correct message. Can’t speak to people about deep theological truths when they are not even saved. Can’t be surprise when your folks keep falling over and over if their hearts are not right. Some folks need the Gospel and that is all you need to give them; they need to get saved, they are not ready for anything else. And, there are folks that are ready for meat; they will be bored to death if you keep giving them the same message over and over; they are ready to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord; they are hungry for righteousness.

     Out of these four groups only the last one is saved, because it is the only one that is able to bear fruit. Where is your fruit? It is God’s will for all of us to have a good heart; but are you willing to surrender? Would you allow God to do the work in you or, are you in love with the world and the things of this world?

Fellow Minorities: THEY ARE LYING to Us!


Lyndon Johnson campaigning in Illinois in 1964, the year he declared ‘war on poverty’

The United States Census Bureau showed that in 2015 43.1 million people were poor; that is about 13.5 percent of the population.[1] The Henry J. Keyser Family Foundation showed that in 2015 9% of whites in America were poor compare to 24% of Blacks and 21% of Hispanics; 14% were in the category of “Other”.[2] Even as Blacks and Latinos are minorities in this country, when it comes down to poverty we are the strong majority.

         In 2012, the federal government spent $668 billion to fund 126 separate anti-         poverty programs. State and local governments kicked in another $284 billion,    bringing total anti-poverty spending to nearly $1 trillion. That amounts to $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of  three.[3] The famous war on poverty started on January 8, 1964 under the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson 53 years ago. Twenty-three of those 53 years under Presidents of the Democratic Party; that is including 8 years under Bill Clinton and also, 8 years under Obama. Lets take a look at the way the government is fighting this war of poverty.[4]

         As we look at these numbers, can we conclude that we are loosing this war on poverty? We can’t say that the issue of poverty has been ignored in the United States; the numbers do not lie. The government is investing a lot of money on these programs; so why is it that the poverty numbers remain consistently high amongst our people? I believe that many who engage on this war on poverty have the best intentions; but good intentions are not above biblical truth and principles. Jesus stated that the poor will always be amongst us (Matthew 26:11). However, does that means that Blacks and Latinos will always be the kings of poverty? Absolutely not! Poverty is not God’s will for his people! So we are missing something, what is it?

         We, as minorities are allowing politicians to limit their talking points by offering us more food stamps, more free health care, more free housing, etc. Not that these things are really free; tax payers are actually paying for these programs, but the person receiving these benefits are not required to do anything to earn anything. This approach has created the culture of entitlement. These are the folks who feel that everybody owns them something just because they are black, just because they are latinos and, just because, they are natives. They find justifications on the atrocities committed against us through the bloody pages of our history. The God that I serve is the God of justice. The Bible tells me that his judgments are true and righteous (Revelations 19:2). Our job as Born Again believers is to forgive (Colossians 3:13) God will take care of the rest.

         But the question remains, how can this problem of poverty be resolved? The answer is not all that complicated; it is actually very simple: 1) Place our trust in God: (Proverbs 3:5-6). The ultimate trust for our lives, for our families and for our nation, must be giving to God. Only God is worthy of our trust. God is the only one that will NEVER leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). 2) Be aware that it is God and not the government who is able to supply for all of our needs: (Philippians 4:19). David knew this that is why in Psalm 23:1 he is able to declare the following, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” (KJV) Do you know what is it to bless to the point of wanting nothing else? The Government is very limited in what they can do; God has no limits. Not only that he is able to supply for all of your needs, but he is able to give you things that money can’t buy, such as peace and joy. 3) The way out of poverty is through jobs not through federal programs: It is through hard work, not through handouts that we are able to overcome poverty. I am going to offer plenty of biblical references to prove this point because I am aware that telling people to go and find a job is consider offensive and insensitive these days.

  1. We work for and serve the Lord as we work for and serve others (Colossians 3:23-24). So we are call to do our jobs well and with the right attitude.
  2. We are called to work and make our surroundings better. (Genesis 2:15) Regarding of the size of your paycheck; as a man and as a woman of God you should be a blessing in your job and in everything that surrounds you.
  3. God promise to establish the work of your hands not your laziness (Psalm 90:17). Should I say more? You have to do your part and give God something to work for. To work is to obey God; laziness is disobedience to God… is that simple!
  4. To have food to eat is part of making a living; in order to have food you must work (Proverbs 12:11).
  5. Not working makes no sense before God (Proverbs 12:11).
  6. If you want to have things you are required to work for them; nobody is under any obligation to support you permanently (Proverbs 13:4).
  7. Lazy people are never in charge; they always depend on others (Proverbs 12:24).
  8. At the heart of making a profit is hard work; at the heart of poverty is laziness (Proverbs 14:23 / Proverbs 6:10-12 / 2 Timothy 2:6).
  9. Not providing for our own families is denying our faith as Christians and a worst spiritual condition than an unbeliever (I Timothy 5:8). If you go back and read this verse it is clear that we have a responsibility to help each other out as extended families; but especially for those under our own roof. People run to social services for help, but that is what family is for.
  10. It is God’s will to prosper us through his plan for our lives; it is his will to give us hope and a good future (Jeremiah 29:11). God wants to give you that job; it is his will!

         There are more Bible verses that speak against laziness and the blessing of hard work, but I believe I have given you plenty to think about. The words I am giving you today are not Republican or Democrat. They are not part of a political agenda or a particular ideology; these are not empty words; they come straight from the heart of God. Today, I echo the words of my master when he states,

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31-32 (KJV)

         This is the true we need; they are lying to us; lets go after God like never before, lets get to work and lets break this curse of poverty out of our lives. For that, we need God, not the government!

 

 

 

[1] https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2016/demo/p60-256.html

 

[2] http://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

 

[3] http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/01/08/war-on-poverty-at-50-despite-trillions-spent-poverty-won.html

 

[4] http://federalsafetynet.com/poverty-and-spending-over-the-years.html

 

The President and Twitter


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I don’t think we have to hold a degree in political science to know that the political environment in our country is toxic. Everything that the other party says is automatically received as wrong by the other party; whether is good or bad it does not matter. It seems like politics is no longer about the business of the people, but about the destruction of characters.

         Our current president, Donald Trump, openly confesses that he is a Christian. Many evangelicals supported him. However, I am increasingly concern with how he is representing us as Christians. Listen, I don’t deny that the liberal press and some in his own party are constantly attacking him in many ways, including personal. However, attacks on presidents come with the job, especially in the last 30 years. We can argue which president was scrutinize more or less, but it comes with the territory and, with social media, I predict that is going to get worst.

         Let me go straight to the point of the purpose for this post. If the president wants to use Twitter to correct bad reporting from the press, I can understand that. If he wants to use Twitter to communicate his agenda and message directly to the American people, I can understand that also. However, is the president exempt from biblical mandates?

         There is absolutely no biblical justification to what the press and Hollywood is doing to our president day in and day out. This “Resist” movement is birthed out of rebellion. Romans 13:1-2 tells us, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (NIV)

         God places those leaders, some as instruments of blessings, others for judgment! We see this pattern as we read through the book of Judges, First and Second Kings. Also, did we see Daniel disrespecting the secular kings he worked for? Did we see Joseph disrespecting Pharaoh? No, these men were faithful to their faith in God and also very respectful to the secular leaders they worked under. We can learn some valuable lessons from these two men. Our mandate, as Christians, even above voting, is to pray for our leaders according to First Timothy 2:1-3.

         On the other hand, there is no biblical justification for our president’s midnight hour personal attacks. First Peter 3:8-10 tells us,

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,

“Whoever would love life and see good days

must keep their tongue from evil

and their lips from deceitful speech. (NIV)

         Just in case you need a second biblical reference, Paul also spoke on this matter by telling Timothy, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” 2 Timothy 2:23 (NIV)

         Mr. President, respectfully, let me advise you to focus on the Lord’s direction through prayer and wise council. To focus on protecting our nation, to make sure we have a strong military, to bring down this deficit, to bring down taxes, to deal with our health care issues, our future social security crisis, the war on poverty, the economy, get people back to work by creating a healthy environment for job creation, to reform the welfare system, etc. Let the numbers that count do the talking for you; unemployment rate, deficits, surpluses and the size of our economy. History will judge you on these numbers!

 

The Doctrine of Mercy and the Great Promise


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We are not and will never justify sin and sinful lifestyles, but we cannot take anything away from the power of the blood of Christ. If we are honest with ourselves, we are all struggling with something… I know I am! It may be sexually related, it may be anger, it may be pride, greed, etc. but nobody is exempt from the desires of the flesh! That reality should humble each and every one of us.

         The reality is that we all stand in need of mercy; we can’t make it without mercy. I guess that’s why His mercies are knew every morning; we need them every day. Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (NIV) Mercy flows out of God’s love for us. Because of His love we are not destroy.

         The flesh is disgusting! The desires of the flesh are disgusting and everything about the flesh is disgusting. That is, whether you are a born again believer or an atheist. The flesh’s desires are contrary to everything that God stands for (Galatians 5:17).

         Jesus gave us a powerful principle when he stated, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 (NIV) There is a part of us, (the flesh), that wants nothing to do with God. There is another part of us, (the spirit), that is willing to cooperate with God; it is our inner most, it is the part of us with the ability to carry on our greatest responsibility as believers, to worship God according to John 4:23. And yet, there is a part of us that stand in need of restoration; it is where the work is taking place, in our souls; that is, the seat of our emotions, our mind sand our will. That is the complexity of us humans.

         In this world we have two kinds of people, the guilty and the not guilty. The guilty because without Christ we are all guilty; that is because we have all sin and fall short of God’s glory according to Romans 3:23. The non-guilty is tricky; because our innocence as believers is not based on our good works, but based strictly on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is what we are… THROUGH HIM.

         I am so glad that Jesus took away the guilt for our sins of the past, our sins of today and even our future sins. I am so glad that through Him we are righteous, holy and a finish work. But also, I am glad that through the Holy Ghost, He is changing us. But in that process of changing us, because it is a process, He is dealing with us through discipline, for God discipline those He love according to Hebrews 12:6 and, through mercy.

          We can’t fail my brothers and sisters! Today, we are a part of that great promise He made to the Children of Israel, as we are also, New Testament folks. That greater promise is that He is going to take the WORD, His precious Law, and place it in our hearts. He will finish the work no only through HIM, not only in a positional way, but also in US. That actual finish work, I believe, will take place in the New Jerusalem. So I end with these words from Jeremiah 31:33,

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (NKJV)

 

The Challenges of Parenthood, Our Biblical Mandate and Hope


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Lets face it, some families are dysfunctional; that means that they are essentially not functioning properly; that means that they accept as truth the opposite of what a family should be. Nevertheless, even good parents are not exempt from messing up; every “good” parent will do and say the wrong thing soon or later. It should not surprise anybody, we as humans are spirit, soul and flesh; that flesh in particular does not go away just because you are now a parent. You can read all the books you want and take all the classes you want, you will still do and say the wrong thing every now and then.

         In the complexity of parenthood, part of the problem is that, to start, many of us do not know our biblical role as parents. That reality becomes a foundational problem that will indeed mess-up everything else. I am glad that the Bible is not silent about this topic; the Bible has much to say about parenthood.

         Now, this doing and saying the wrong thing will cause pain and only two things will help us overcome such pain, 1) love, knowing in your heart that your parents loves you and knowing that you love them and, 2) when you yourself become a parent and you, just like your old folks, attempt to be a “good” parent; then you realize that it is not easy!

         Love should be at the center of families. Outside of crazy folks, people love their families; they want the best for their kids and they look out for them in their own way. But lets go a little further on this topic.

         Let me start the heart of this article by stating that what I am about to say may sound weird, but biblically speaking, marriage is overrated, but family is not. If you don’t believe me when I say that marriage is overrated, take a moment and read First Corinthians 7 where the apostle Paul give us the reality of marriage over and over. Now, he is not advocating fornication and extramarital sexual activities and so on. Again, he is just presenting a real perspective of what marriage really is and what we will be facing.

         In First Corinthians 7:28 the Apostle Paul goes as far as saying: “But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.” (NKJV) Nothing will make your flesh rise more than marriage! If you have been marry for more than a week, you know exactly what I am talking about.

         In the Old Testament marriage had a few purposes, 1) for the multiplication of God’s people. God told both, Adam and later Noah, to multiply. 2) Marriage was important to preserve the children of Israel from the moral contamination of the world. That is why they were not supposed to marry outside of their own people. It was not a racist thing; it was with the purpose of keeping them holy and 3) It was very important to protect the genealogy of Jesus. Is it amazing that the genealogy of Christ is recorded all the way from Adam?

         The worldly romantic ideas of marriage are not found in the Bible. As a matter of fact, parents were the ones determining whom their children were to marry. However, when it comes down to family, from the Old to the New Testament, family plays a vital role for our formation as Godly people.

         Let me make a biblical point concerning the New Testament. Not caring for our families is consider worst than being a lost person according to First Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (NKJV) This verse alone should get our attention, but my focus is going to be on a portion of Scripture in the Old Testament. Abraham was chosen to be the father of the nation of Israel and the father of our faith because his commitment to family. Genesis 18:17-19 tells us,

And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (KJV)

         God knew that Abraham was committed to teach the way of the Lord to his family. Can He say the same about you? Can He say the same about me? The way of the Lord is about teaching our kids justice and judgment according to God, not according to our opinion, our culture, the way we grew up, etc. Now lets look at three words on verse 19 in order to get a better understanding of what our responsibilities as fathers are:

  • Command: From the Hebrew word, ṣāwāh: “A verb meaning to order, to direct, to appoint, to command, to charge, to be ordered, to be commanded.”[1] This is so different from many liberal parents today who seem to let the children be in charge.
  • Justice: Is the Hebrew word eḏāqāh that speaks ofrighteousness (What God accept as right), speaks of blameless conduct, and integrity; right actions, and right attitudes, as expected from both God and people when they judge.”[2] This is a very practical definition because it deals with teaching our kids to act like they have some Godly sense.
  • Judgment: From the Hebrew word mišpāṭ meaning, “A judgment, a legal decision, a legal case, a claim, proper, rectitude. The word connotes several variations in meanings depending on the context. It is used to describe a legal decision or judgment rendered: it describes a legal decision given by God to be followed by the people.”[3] This could sound complicated, but it is not. This is about parents teaching their children proper decision-making based on God’s Word and not base on their own.

         So, in the mix of our humanity, in the mix of dealing with our flesh through our marriages and in the mix of our mistakes and shortcomings, as fathers these are our vital responsibilities: “to command our children to act like they have Godly sense and to obey HIM.” Wow! This is a personal revelation even as I write these words!

         For those who still don’t get it or don’t know how to start, God did not leave us without a system to follow. Deuteronomy 11:18-21 tells us exactly what to do and the promise attached to doing this,

18 “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. (NKJV)

         We should have family devotionals; we should gather as brothers and sisters with other believers, but as parents, in our daily lives and daily routine we should be parenting. These parents that are always running, running and running and act like their kids soccer team, basketball practice, track competition or whatever else may be, is more important than God’s Word, are going to reap what they are sowing right now.

         Families that never have time for meaningful conversations are lost in their own busyness; the devil have you in his hands by keeping you so busy that you don’t have time to teach anything of value to your kids. You don’t have time to command them and teach them to act like they have Godly sense and to obey God.

         When you sit in your house, your children and you are on your phones; not even in the same room. We are all rushing in the morning, so no time to teach anything there. No time to take a walk and speak about the issues of the heart because you get off late from work and the children are involved in a million extracurricular activities. No time to teach when we lie down, because then we are so exhausted that all we want is to be entertained, watch TV, be on the phone, Facebook, etc. until we just fall asleep. The next day we will do it all over again until one day we realize that we never prioritized what was really important, “to command our children to act like they have Godly sense and to obey God.”

         Whatever else we did, follow our career, even ministry, focus on whatever else, while failing to do what God tells us to do as fathers, will come back to hurt us and our children.

         Now, understand that I am with you on this struggle. I have been working so hard to build a nice barbecue/garden area for us, as a family, to enjoy good food as we gather around the grill and engage in these conversations, but I have to tell you that I have totally fail in that aspect. Kids come grab their burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings or whatever else I have on the grill and inside the house they go, back to their phones and back to their worlds. I have had to force the issue and define the word “cookout”. It is frustrating to me as much as it may be for you, but I still press on, even as, at times, I feel like giving up. It does not happen to me too often, just 7 days out of the week and 365 days out of the year!

         But I finish with these words and in them I find hope, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV) My job as a dad is to train my kids; train them in what? In the justice and judgment of God! If you have been a coach on any sport you know that they don’t get it right away, it takes time, but what a great feeling when you see things coming together on that athlete. I find hope in knowing that if I don’t quit, one day I will see things coming together in my own children and if you don’t quit, you will be able to see it coming together in yours to.

 

 

[1] Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 942.

[2] Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 939.

[3] Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 687.

Deliverance: Is It Real? Part 5


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Glorification

         This is the ultimate goal! This is where perfection takes place; this is our ultimate destination! This is heaven and life in the New Jerusalem; this is our glorious future. Romans 8:16-18 tells us,

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (NKJV) “…the glory that SHALL BE revealed in us.” That, my friend, is our ultimate deliverance!

         In conclusion, we see salvation as a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8. Even as it was a gift for us; Jesus paid a big price for it as explained by prophet Isaiah.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;

We have turned, every one, to his own way;

And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6 (NKJV)

         Jesus Christ was wounded for our transgressions and bruise for our iniquities; He died for all of our iniquities! He paid the price in full.

         Sanctification is also a gift, for we are sanctified in Christ. However, sanctification is also a process, as the Holy Spirit works in us and through us. Lastly, glorification is our future, our true home and the promise of the eternal experience. I close then, with these very appropriate words,

But as it is written, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” I Corinthians 2:9 (KJV)

Thank you all for taking the time to read about this very important topic. If you have any questions or any comments please do not hesitate to write us. If you prefer a private discussion please write me at angelcasiano@aol.com. God bless you all!

 

 

 

 

Deliverance: Is It Real? Part 4


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Sanctification

         I am aware that there is a lot of controversy and division in the Body of Christ concerning our understanding on sanctification. I go as far as saying that, it is here where we become victims of bad doctrine. It is here where we see casualties. It is imperative that we get a good understanding of what sanctification is. Jesus provision is not an excuse for us to live any kind of way; that is not a legalistic statement, but a biblical one. In Galatians 5:13 Paul speaks about the liberty that we have in Jesus, but he also stated,  “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (NKJV)

         We must understand that God has set us a part and that underneath the blood of Christ his Spirit is forming sanctification in our own hearts; one of the ultimate promises of the New Testament (Jeremiah 31:33). To better explain this concept of sanctification, we must look at three aspects: Sanctification must be seen in three fold: 1) Instantaneous sanctification, 2) progressive sanctification and 3) ultimate sanctification.[1]

         I believe that brother Harold S. Martin did a remarkable job in explaining sanctification, so I will use his direct words:

  1. Instantaneous sanctification-is the standing before God, which is assigned to individuals at the time when they accept Jesus Christ by faith. We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:13b that “God hath … chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit.” And from 1 Corinthians 6:11 we learn that “Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” The Christians at Corinth had lived very ungodly and pagan lives, but now they were new creatures in Christ Jesus.
  2. Progressive sanctification-is the life process of growing in holiness; it is pressing on in the upward way, and more and more being delivered from the power of sin. Thus sanctification speaks of following in the path of righteousness, choosing the more excellent way, and seeking the mind of Christ. We are told in 2 Peter 3:18a to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” That takes place when we are devoted to reading the holy Word of God, using the tools of Bible study, and exercising the spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation, and participation in the ordinances of God’s house. There is also an admonition in 2 Corinthians 7:1b which says, “Therefore … let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” The Apostle Paul spoke of pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God (Philippians 3:13-14). The New Testament does not suggest any short-cuts to sanctification. It simply encourages us to give ourselves to the old-fashioned and time-honored means of Bible reading, and meditation, and prayer, and worship, and self-discipline.
  3. Ultimate sanctification-is the final state, which will be attained only when we are fully and completely set apart to God in heaven. The wish of the writer in I Thessalonians 5:23 is expressed as follows: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in 1 John 3:2b, we read, “It doeth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

Instantaneous sanctification has to do with our standing.

Progressive sanctification has to do with our spiritual growth.

Ultimate sanctification has to do with our eternal state.

 

 

To be continued…

[1] http://www.thechristianscompass.org/3_tenses.htm

 

Deliverance: Is It Real? Part 3


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God indeed delivered us; but what is it that he delivered from? To begin to answer this question we must look at what God’s salvation provides in three-fold: 1) justification, 2) sanctification and 3) glorification.

Justification

         With justification we received a powerful gift and that is the gift that removes the guilt of our sinful condition. So we can say that in this world you have two kinds of people, the guilty and the not guilty. Born again believers are not free from sin; we all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). The Bible tells us that there is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). But now, through Christ, through his sacrifice and through the shedding of His blood, we are now free from the guilt of sin. (Romans 5:9)

         Feeling guilty and condemn is not of God. Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (NKJV)

         Remember that as born again believers we are the only people able to walk in the Spirit, because we were born again in the spirit. Our spirits are alive now and able to have communion with God. We now have the indwelling of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 3:16). We now have the best fighting tools against sin. However, we can’t forget that we still have a soul that is a work in progress. In speaking about our souls we are speaking about our minds, our will and our emotions. God is changing our way of thinking, he is forming his will in us and giving us emotional stability by providing us unspeakable joy (I Peter 1:8) and the only peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Also, I must add, we can’t forget that we are flesh and that the flesh has no promise of restoration; we will actually receive new bodies! (Philippians 3:21) Praise God again!

         Romans 5:1 tell us, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (NKJV). That peace with God is granted only THROUGH CHRIST. So now, through Christ we are declared innocent for our past, present and future sins, even as in reality, we are guilty of all of them. Christ, as our attorney, presents his blood before his Father and we are, as if we have never sin before. That is because we are under his blood.

         If we stop this message here, then there is no need for us to worry about sinning. As a matter fact, since Christ did all these things for us, why not enjoy sinning? But see, the message does not stop there. That is why we need to understand that we must preach and teach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and not just what we judge as convenient.

To be continued…