Taking a Look at Family and Ministry


IMG_2055

When you are young you think you know it all, when you are old you realize you don’t and when you are older you realized what is valuable. As I write these words I am disgusted in many ways and for many reasons.

         I am 50-years-old. I am not young, but not too old either. I see things, some times, beyond the surface. To have any kind of discernment or any prophetic insight these days is not easy. If I am in the Spirit I can handle what I see better; but if I slip into the flesh I become very negative and complaint about everything… that is the truth!

         There are two things that disgust me, 1) to do ministry without intimacy with God, without discipleship and without fully honoring God’s Word and 2) when folks so comfortably give up their special time with family for careers, education, hobbies, social media and everything else. They sacrifice family as if that is the right thing to do, when in reality that is in indeed the wrong thing to do. Let me briefly deal with ministry first. In Mark 16:17-18 Jesus said,  

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (KJV)

         Why is it that I have seen very little of these signs in any ministry, including mine? These signs should be a normal part of the life of any believer. Now, I hear a lot of preaching and teaching; to that the Apostle Paul stated,

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. First Corinthians 2:1-5 (KJV)

         Where is our faith standing, in the wisdom of men or in the power of God? We listen to a lot of teaching; some of those teachings are actually good, well prepared sermons and long series, but when was the last time you witness the power of God?

         Let me make something clear, the Apostle Paul is not discouraging preaching and teaching, the Bible identify us as disciples; a disciple, by definition, is somebody who is learning. In our case, we are learning the ways of the Lord. However, the Apostle Paul is discouraging preaching and teaching that focus on the wisdom of men or men’s ability to put a sermon together. Preaching and teaching that only has value if the preacher has a doctoral degree or some kind of impressive title as if, that is the prerequisite to attain any kind of credibility.

         Paul is emphasizing that our faith should not stand on men’s wisdom, but in the power of God. A simple teaching is able to entertain our intellect, as we stay comfortably in our sin, as we continue to distance ourselves from our families and as we continue our prayerless lives, but the power of God is able to do something that we all desperately need and that is… to be changed.

         See beloved, not only that there are signs that should follow any believer, but we must also understand that what brings forth that power is indeed the teachings of our Lord and not this selfish and man-centered gospel we are teaching today. To this Jesus said,

“…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. 33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.” John 8:31-37 (KJV)

         We can’t even be considered disciples of Christ if we are not committed to learning and following Jesus’ teachings. Jesus’ teachings are truth and it is that truth that makes us free. So the first step to deliverance is to get in God’s Word and learn the teachings of our Lord. There is no freedom, no deliverance if we remain in ignorance. When we resist God’s Word that means that there is no room in our hearts for his teachings; that means that we rather follow our own way and not the way of Christ. If the Word of God insults you check your spirit, something is terrible wrong.

         Is important to point out that a disciple is not just a student. A student goes to school, complete a degree in a particular career for a particular job or skill. A disciple focuses on how to live for Christ; we are supposed to be dying to self and looking more and more like Jesus. We are supposed to be changing, growing and going from glory to glory. If this growth and maturity is not taking place you are not experiencing the power of God.

         An effective ministry is a yoke-breaking ministry because it is anointed by God (Isaiah 10:27). The Job Description of an effective ministry is clearly stated in Isaiah 61; it is the portion of Scripture chosen by our Lord to officially start his ministry on this earth.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)

         Ministry is a Godly instrument for change. An effective ministry leads us to dramatic changes as we die to self and become more and more like Christ. So in conclusion, as it refers to ministry, there should be tears, there should be repentance, there should be forgiveness and there should be physical and emotional healing. In general, there should be transformations taking place. Your ministry could be financially sound, your ministry could be growing in numbers, you could have the nicest building in the whole city, but if transformation is not taking place in the lives of those you are ministering to, your ministry represents a form of Godliness, but is clearly denying the power of God (2 Timothy 3:5). That means that you have become so sophisticated that you have closed yourself to the manifestations of the Spirit of God. Here on earth you may have honor, but in heaven your ministry is obsolete.

To be continued…

 

Five Qualifications to Interpret Scripture


hermeneutic

Introduction

         We know that God does not make mistakes; we know that his Word is without error. We know that even as the prophets and apostles God chose to write His Word, were not perfect themselves, every word they wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was. So neither God nor the original writers are the problem. The problem was, the problem is and, the problem will continue to be found in, the interpreter; that is… us!

         It is of fundamental importance that we develop a relationship with God, that we learn to hear from Him[1], that we study the Scriptures, that we grow in our knowledge of good theology and sound doctrine and, that we get a hold of hermeneutics as a tool to properly interpret Scripture. This post is designed to help us do just that.

Offer a list and description of the qualifications needed for an interpreter to offer a proper reading of Scripture.

     Klein offers five qualifications for the interpreter of Scripture. Klein adds that the following set of qualifications “put the interpreter in the best position to obtain valid interpretation of the biblical text.”[2] Those are,

  1. A reasoned faith in the God who reveals.
  2. Willingness to obey the message.
  3. Illumination of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Membership in the church.
  5. Willingness to employ appropriate methods.

Give the importance of each qualification for understanding Scripture.

A Reasoned Faith in the God who reveals

     Klein states, “all understanding requires a framework or context within which to interpret.”[3] As it refers to us as believers it is essential, as Klein also points out, “that we have a relationship with God in order to fully understand the book God has authored.”[4] Klein also includes faith as “foundational for a full comprehension of Scripture. It is not the only qualification, nor does it guaranty correct interpretation.”[5]

         As I read this portion of our reading assignment I am reminded of First Peter 3:15, “ but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” (New American Standard Bible)

         No doubts that we should be ready, able and willing to give a reasonable account for why we believe what we believe. However, I believe we must also keep in mind that ultimately, the gospel is foolishness to the world (First Corinthians 1:18). I am not saying that we can’t apply reason to our faith, but without scientific evidence how can we be considered reasonable to the world when giving the story of Eve speaking to a serpent, or Jesus born out of a virgin or demons, miracles, etc.?

Willingness to Obey the Message

         This is the “willingness to put oneself “under” the text, to submit one’s will to hear and respond to the text in a faithful manner. The truly faithful reader seeks to obey what God reveals in Scripture.”[6] This is true humility before God, refusing to be wise in our own opinons (Proverbs 3:7), dying to self (1 Corinthians 15:31), personal agendas, ideas culture, etc. and a willingness to submit ourselves to the truth of the Bible.

Illumination of the Holy Spirit

     Klein connects this third qualification with the first two already mentioned; “…is to allow the Holy Spirit to complement the process of exegesis. For this part, God provides the resources for an obedient understanding of his truth: the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.”[7] The Holy Spirit gets the job done; if the goal is to show the true principle and application of the text, that is Holy Ghost territory.

Membership in the Church

   We are indeed a family… a big family. There is nothing in Scripture that promotes or support individualism; no Rambo Christians. The church should be the primary place where the family of God is able to learn about God and these tools of Bible interpretation. If anything, it should be the place where we can humbly listen to what other believers have to say and as Klein adds, “Likewise, our conclusions, if they are correct, have importance for the other.”[8]

Willingness to Employ Appropriate Methods

     If we are Born Again believers, if we love God and if we love others, there will be willingness in our hearts to study and understand the Scripture. How can we love anybody and have no interest in listening to what he or she has to say? Impossible. However, I am at peace with the fact that, as Klein explains, there are different levels of proficiency from the uneducated Christian to the scholar,[9] I believe that God is able to reveal the necessary truth to each believer according to their call.

Which of these qualifications are most important?

     In my opinion, they are all important; if I have to place them in order of importance it will go something like this: 1) A Reasoned faith in the God who reveals, particularly because here Klein speaks about the vital importance of having a relationship with God. Everything starts there. 2) Illumination of the Holy Spirit. The ultimate goal of Scripture is to show us the way of God, his righteousness, the way he wants us to live this life, etc. Only the Holy Spirit is able to do that. 3) Willingness to obey the message. The flesh in us, we know is weak, but the spirit of a born again believer is willing (Matthew 26:41). That willingness to follow God is the fruit of the Spirit in the believers; it is Christianity becoming real in the life of a believer. 4) Willingness to employ appropriate methods. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (NASB) I believe that this kind of hunger and thirst for righteousness creates a willingness in a child of God to employ any method that will assist them in knowing God and his Word in a more intimate way. 5) Lastly, Membership in the church. Without implementing the first four qualifications when interpreting Scripture in our lives, I don’t think the church experience will be as rich and, worst of all, we may be unaware or desensitize to heresy, bad theology and false doctrines.

Which do you think are not as necessary?

     They are all necessary, in my opinion.

Give reasons for your choices.

     I chose “A reasoned faith in the God who reveals” with emphasis on cultivating a relationship with God. Jesus die, not only to save our souls, but to give us the precious gift of being able to have a direct relationship with the Father. We don’t need a priest to go to God in our behalf; we can go to God ourselves. That does not mean that we throw out the teachers, the need for pastors, the need to study and utilize these diverse tools such as hermeneutics, but we are aware of first things first, we are called to love God above all things.

What role does the Holy Spirit play in interpretation?

     I feel very uncomfortable with limiting the Holy Spirit in anything. As far as I know, the only thing God cannot do is lie. The role of the Holy Spirit is central and is vital in interpreting Scripture. The cultural, social, economical and languages spoken at the time the Scripture was written are of secondary importance.

     The Holy Spirit is the one who reveals the meaning and he reveals that meaning to whomever he wants; to children (Matthew 21-15-16), to uneducated men such as the original apostles, the humble man in the church that does not speak much and the old lady who prays a lot. We can’t forget that God choses the foolish and the weak to shame the strong (I Corinthians 1:27).

How do we determine the impact of the Spirit on an individual’s interpretation?

     The whole law of the prophets was summarized in two commandments, to love God above all things and to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). I believe that Augustine answers this question perfectly as he states, “the first principle of Bible interpretation is that it leads readers to love God and to love others.”[10] Furthermore, Professor Roy B. Zuck offer fourteen powerful points concerning the Holy Spirit and interpretation of Scripture, for the sake of space I will only quote one,

The role of the Spirit in interpreting the Bible does not mean that one’s interpretations are infallible. Inerrancy and hence infallibility are characteristics of the Bible’s original manuscripts, but not of the Bible’s interpreters. The manuscripts were inerrant because of the Holy Spirit’s guarding and guiding the writers to record what He wanted recorded, word for word. But such a superintending work cannot be claimed for interpreters of the Word. In inspiration the Holy Spirit superintended the authors in order to override any human error. In interpretation the Holy Spirit guides but He does not guard against infallibility. To elevate one’s interpretations to the level of infallibility would blur the distinctions between inspiration (a past, now completed work of the Spirit in the recording of Scripture) and interpretation (a present, ongoing work of the Spirit in helping interpreters in the comprehending of Scripture). Also it would ascribe to Protestants a level of infallibility for human leaders which evangelicals reject in Roman Catholicism.[11]

Conclusion

         I have no doubt that a non believer will be able to look at the Scripture and apply certain aspects of hermeneutics, perhaps better than some of us. Some of them perhaps would be able to explain the culture of the time or even understand the language in better detail that some Christians that are not trained in those matters. Nevertheless, unless the Holy Ghost reveals to them the principle, they will not be able to see it nor accept it; they are blind to the things of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Klein brings this point home when he states, “…full understanding comes only to the sincere follower of the God who revealed – the follower who diligently seeks to practice the message of the text studied.”[12]

         Klein is very cleaver in describing the arrogance of those that totally reject hermeneutics, exegesis or any other tool[13] and I agree with him. That arrogance also exists in the academic world. So the problem is not necessarily refusing to use those tools or using them diligently… the problem is pride! Not everybody is able to afford classes at Liberty University and not everybody is bless with a pastor that actually understands and takes the time to teach hermeneutics, but everybody has access to the Holy Ghost!

         Humility is indeed the key; when our opinions do not lineup with Scripture we must let it go; when we insist in doing things our way, then we are operating in pride and we know that “…God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NASB)

Bibliography

Klein, W.W., C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition. Zondervan, 2017.

Zuck, Roy B. The Role of the Holy Spirit in Hermeneutics, Biblioteca Sacra: 1984.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition (Zondervan, 2017), 202

 

[2] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 202

[3] Ibid. 202

[4] Ibid, 202

[5] Ibid. 203

[6] Ibid. 205

[7] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 206

 

[8] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 208

[9] Ibid. 210

[10] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 87

[11] Roy B. Zuck, The Role of the Holy Spirit in Hermeneutics, (Biblioteca Sacra: 1984) 122

[12] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 206

[13] Ibid. 206 – 208

LEAVE!


016589163_40400

I believe that:

1) There is something out there that can be properly called the Institutionalized Church. This is a church that is set and unchanging. The problem is that is set on manmade traditions and not God’s. I believe this church suffers no persecution from the world because, at its heart, is a man centered church. The focus here is pleasing man rather than God and receiving the validation of the world. The modus operandi of this church is secularism.

2) Because of the abandonment of the apostolic teachings, the Lord will release many out of local churches. Many of these local churches are like boats that are leading God’s people away from the shore of truth. Many of you are going to have to jump out of those boats. 2 John 1:9-11 brings this point home nicely, Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” (NKJV) For those who have the tendency to minimize the importance of teaching God’s Word over emotionalism, I have news for you; you are not even worth saying hi to. If you are in a local church that is not teaching the doctrine of Christ… LEAVE!

3) The Bible gives us a clear roadmap of how the church should look like (Stop with the NEW THING). We find our purpose in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. The Modus operandi is clearly found on Acts 2:42 and Ephesians 4:12-16

4) In every Christian denomination you will find authentic Christians. As we read the 7 churches in Revelation, even those churches that were under severe judgment had true believers in it. For those true believers in those churches: You are there to insist in truth, to speak up and not to be a cheese ball and a coward. Don’t be afraid of getting in trouble (You will) and don’t be afraid of getting kick out (You will if they don’t listen). Remember that loves delights in truth! (1 Corinthians 13). Speak the truth in the mix of all those lies you are listening to Sunday after Sunday.

5) Moving away from God’s Word as the maximum authority in the search and recognition of truth, is a clear sign of not belonging to Christ. Christ demands that we remain in his Word (Teaching). John 8:31-32 tells us, Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word (Logos: written word), you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (NKJV) Our freedom is not found in laughing uncontrollably or barking like a dog or screaming like a siren or running up and down the sanctuary… Our freedom is found in truth. Any group that minimizes the authority of Scripture as a confirmation and compass of truth is either not of God or highly deceived. Wherever you find folks watering down the Gospel… LEAVE!

6) It is not about the building, I agree, we are the church. Meeting under a tree, in a parking lot, in a dinning or living room, etc. does not make you any holier or any more or less part of the church.

7) God did not call us to place our focus on criticizing the church, but to expose false prophets and teachers amongst us. For a list of Bible verses addressing this issue click here: http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-Exposing-False-Teachers/

8) Our focus is to make disciples, to teach them to abide in all that Jesus commands. How is it that the Great Commission has become the great omission? Because we continue to increasingly preach a gospel without responsibility, accountability, process and/or efforts. We have become enemies of good works. We are creating an environment where spiritual laziness is celebrated as truth. Never mind that we are call to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18), never mind that we are called to STUDY God’s Word (2 Peter 2:15)… never mind that we are called to EQUIP the saints for the WORK of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:12-16) If these things are not happening in your local church… LEAVE!

9) We, as the church, are not called to change the world, we are called to evangelize. Why do we continue to insist in mixing with the world? Are we not call to be holy? Are we not call to get out of this Babylonian system? (1 Peter 1:16 / Revelation 18:4) Do you realize that God will destroy this secular demonic system in one hour? (Revelation 18:10). So our job is to bring them out of darkness into light by the preaching of the Good News. (Luke 4:18-19) And, lastly,

10) You MUST bring this church experience HOME. Notice that I am not saying HOUSE (Building), I am saying HOME! (Family). If you are not worshiping, if you are not studying God’s Word, if you are not praying, if you are not engaging in Godly conversations, if you are not loving Jesus and if you are not changing AT HOME, then YOU are FULL of MANMADE RELIGION! I implore you… Leave and rescue your faith! Leave and rescue your family… Leave and let set the captives free before it is too late!

 

A Reason to Leave a Church


go-4_wide_t-1024x576

     We know that Jesus’ ministry on this earth lasted three years. In three years he took common men; we know that one betrayed him; but with eleven men he literally changed the world. In John 14:12 Jesus speaks about the greater things that we are called to do. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (KJV) The word works here is the Greek Word, ἔργον literally meaning, “To work. Work, performance, the result or object of employment, making or working. Labor, business, employment, something to be done.”[1]

     Salvation is not depended on works. Christians are not going to be subject to the Great White Throne Judgment of God over the lack of works (Revelation 20:11-15). The Great White Throne Judgment is the final verdict on who is going to hell and who will spend eternity with the Father. We will, however, be subject to the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (KJV)

     The word accepted in verse nine is the Greek word euárestos, meaning, “Well–pleasing, acceptable.”[2] Again, this is not an issue of salvation and this is not an issue of love; this is the Bible encouraging us to live our lives in a way that it is pleasing before the Lord. Which means that we also have the ability to displease the Lord with our actions. We must understand that we were created for good works according to Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV) Each one of us as Christians have things to do.

     This takes me to begin to address the heart of this article. Let me start with a couple question, 1) what does soldiers train for, what is the goal of their training? Can a soldier spend five, ten, fifteen plus years and never be ready for deployment in times of war? Would they even make it that long in the armed forces without being ready for battle? The Bible describes us as soldiers in many direct and indirect ways.[3] In 2 Timothy 2:4 tells us, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (NKJV) We are soldiers for Christ and we are called to please the Father and as Christians, we will be judge for what we do or not do for him.

     The church has a Biblical obligation to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.[4] This is not a game or a recommendation; the church has an obligation to train his people and get them ready for deployment. A.B. Bruce offered three stages of discipleship in his classic book, The Training of the Twelve, 1) Declaration, 2) Development and 3) Deployment. Early and Dempsey illustrated these three stages in a diversity of ways. Declaration asks will you believe in Jesus? Development asks will you follow Jesus and Deployment asks will you go for Jesus?[5] The first step is identified with coming to Jesus, the second step is identified with being with Jesus and the third step is going for Jesus.[6]

    I have seen countless times, the church’s failure to properly disciple and get God’s people ready to go for Jesus. Statistics show the hypocrisy and the indifference that many churches truly have for the Great Commission. In 2015 Barna found that nine out of every ten Christians recognized that discipleship is important.[7] However, 52% of church leaders believed that the most effective method of discipleship is to be done individually.[8] The same study showed that when asking the congregation concerning how they prefer to be disciplined, the clear majority, 37%, preferred to be disciplined on their own.[9] These statistics are not only alarming but they are also showing the true condition and attitudes of the church towards discipleship and a diabolical trend to redefine, secularize and come up with new ideas of discipleship that are a far cry from the biblical mandate.

     The local church fights hard to retain its members; the church is finding satisfaction in the size and beauty of the building and the number of members, while totally ignoring our ultimate call as disciple makers who are responsible for getting God’s people ready for deployment. This sad reality often forces mature believers out of local churches. Beloved, there is only so much you can do in a building; there is not enough to do inside the four walls you call church. We must prepare our people to go for Jesus. If you have been a Christian for more than three years and, I know some of you have been a Christian for 5, 10 and 15 plus years, and you are not ready for deployment, your local church failed you miserably. That miserable church failure is also making many of you miserable, as you are not experiencing the joy of doing what God has called you to do (Matthew 25:14-29).

     I am asking you to reconsider what you are and not doing for Jesus. Christ will judge you and me for our good works, bad works and/or lack of works. No pastor on earth has the authority to hold you back from doing your part for the kingdom of God. His main responsibility is to train you, to get you ready and to deploy you to go for Jesus. If he is training you, but you are not ready, that is one thing, but if he is not doing so, get out of there! We are called to obey God above men. On this earth nobody has the authority to stop us from preaching the gospel to the lost and, nobody has the authority to stop us from doing good works. Jesus stated,

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

For many of you reading these words… it is time to GO FOR JESUS!

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Ephesians 6:11-17 and 2 Timothy 2:3

[4] Ephesians 4:12

[5] Dave Early and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is… How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence, 58-60

[6] Ibid., 60

[7] Barna Group, The State of Discipleship: Research conducted among Christian adults, church leaders, exemplar discipleship ministries and Christian educators, (Colorado Springs: The Navigators, 2015), 44

[8] Ibid., 49

[9] Ibid., 44

The Teenage Crisis in the United States of America


teen-hero4

I feel like society, the culture and even our own families are rejecting people like me more and more. Fathers like me are considered old-fashioned and outdated. The old-school approach of parenting was not perfect, but compared to this liberal approach; I rather keep the old ways.

         We, as fathers are competing with a culture that promotes the self-expression of our children. It is funny to me, because they know nothing yet (They are kids!!!!), but they think they know, so our culture promotes them expressing their ignorance and stupidity.

         The culture promotes them having rights for privacy, cell phones with internet access to the whole world and a constant social media that keeps them focus on themselves and totally disconnected from God and family. A culture that highly promotes an open and constant seduction expressed in the way they talk, in the way they text, what they watch on TV, Hollywood, in their clothing with, short dresses that keep very little to the imagination, legging, tight shorts and teats everywhere.

         The authority of fathers is challenged every. Our importance in the homes is diminished. What we do is rejected and made fun of and the worst part, many of us are not really taking our place. Many fathers are absent and continue to give grotesque examples of irresponsibility.

         Many other fathers are not absent, however, they are silence by their wives. Many have to choose between keeping their wives and confronting their children with their foolishness. So they stay quiet, go with the flow and lower the standards. They are afraid of hurting their kid’s feelings for fear of making “mama” upset. Disciple is out the door and disrespect is welcome with open hands. What is the result of this value system change? According to the Child Defense Fund (1992) these are the facts of what is happening to teens in the United States of America EVERY DAY:

  • EVERY DAY, 6 teens commit suicide
  • EVERY DAY, 7 kids, ages ten to nineteen, are murdered
  • EVERY DAY, 7 juveniles, ages seventeen and under, are arrested for murder
  • EVERY DAY, 8 teens are raped
  • EVERY DAY, 500 teens begin using drugs
  • EVERY DAY, One thousand teens begin using alcohol
  • EVERY DAY, One thousand unwed teenage girls have a baby
  • EVERY DAY, more than one thousand teenage girls get abortion.
  • EVERY DAY, more than twenty-seven hundred kids watch their parents separate or divorce.
  • EVERY DAY, more than four thousand teens contract a sexually transmitted disease.
  • EVERY DAY, more than one hundred thousand kids bring a gun or other weapon to school. (Clinton & Ohlschlager, 2013 p. 18-20)

         Beloved, it is so bad that discipline now is viewed as lacking love and being mean-spirited. These are lies from hell; but the problem is that the culture is taking those lies as Gospel truth, our families are taking those lies as Gospel truth and the preacher in the church lacks the courage to teach and preach about these things for fear of loosing his congregation. Because we understand the damage that legalism caused and continue to cause, we now embrace a friendly liberalism that is just as bad or even worst.

         But what does the Bible has to say about all these things? Did God run out of answers for our present cultural crisis? No! Take these verses into consideration,

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 (NKJV)

         What we need is truth; yes, the tough truth that nobody wants to hear. But truth is not enough, it most be balanced with grace (John 1:17) We most give people an opportunity to come the way they are; we most be ready to receive them with open arms when, finally, their hearts be consume by repentance, when, finally they see the fruit of their ways. Pastor Jeff Oden from North Pole Church of God said it best, on a recent sermon as he refuses the idea of having babies out of wedlock be rise outside of the church. Indeed that will make matters worst. We most trust the Living God for our children, for our neighborhood and for our churches. Evil will always be out there, it will get worst; but we will bring them in with truth and with grace.

         Our children need discipline; discipline is an expression of love (Hebrews 12:6). Those tough conversations most take place. Several years ago they did a show on TV in Puerto Rico amongst the toughest criminals in prison. They all stated that they wished their parents would have being tougher with them, that the parent would have question them more…disciplined them more, etc. Those were the exact words I recently heard from a father, whose adult trouble step son told him, “I wish you would have been tougher with me.”

         I love all of my children and I face the same challenges all parents face; I am no difference. Statistics actually show that the challenges of blended families are even greater. However, I insist on a verse that keeps me going,

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)

         I will continue, in the mix of my own imperfections, to train up my kids, to give them something to remember. They may not apply it now; but perhaps when I am gone with my Heavenly Daddy, they can remember the good things I say and find forgiveness in their hearts for the other things I said and did that were not Godly. Perhaps they can remember, when they are old themselves, that even as we are not perfect, we have a mandate to pursue holiness and not use our pitiful state of being human, as a reason to expand in our evil ways. The crisis is before us; it is a reality. However, the solution is also before us. The solution is Jesus Christ and not this liberal, Obama backing, Oprah Winfield intellectualizing and Hollywood glorifying garbage.

 

_______________________________________________________

 

Reference

 

  • All scriptures quoted from the New King James Version Bible
  • Clinton, Timothy & Dr. Ohlschlager, George, Competent Christian Counseling, Water Brook, Volume I

Exclusives Target of Evil


 Charleston Shooting Attack on Mother Emanuel-2

The idea that we can come up with some program, some ministry, follow the steps of some book, send money to this or that other TV Evangelist, vote for some politician, defend this or that aspect of the constitution or follow a specific political ideology as ways to stop our racial divisions and violence against the church and each other is a lie from hell itself. You can arm every responsible American with multiple weapons to defend their families or you can eliminate weapons all together; evil will always find its way. Matthew 24:6 tells us,

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (NKJV)

I saw a video on Facebook yesterday of this famous televangelist speaking as if these kinds of evil events can be prevented all together; evidently he is not aware of Matthew 24. Most disturbing is how he uses this tragedy to promote a book he wrote concerning racial issue in America. The Bible, not this fool, tells us, for all these things must come to pass. Matthew 24:7-8 describes what is not only an American issue, but a worldwide issue,

 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. (NKJV)

The word “nation” in this verse is the word ethnos. It is where we get the word ethnic. This white vs. black thing was prophesied in the Bible way before America was made known to the rest of the world. But also notice that this fight between ethnic groups and natural disasters is just, the beginning of sorrows. Moreover we see the list of evil increasing,

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Matthew 24:9-11 (NKJV)

Check this list out of things that will happen to us just because we made up our minds to follow Christ:

  1. We will be persecuted like never before in the history of the world.
  2. We will get killed.
  3. The devil will use offense as a great tool to move people away from fulfilling the mandate of coming together in true fellowship. I see so many people using past experiences as excuses today for not doing what God says to do. At the end, is not what was done to them in the church; it is their own desire to do what ever they want to do apart from God.
  4. That offense will grow and become hatred to one another; this is, in our own congregations.
  5. This offense and hatred will be an open door for false prophets and false teacher to enter our churches. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 tells us,

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (NKJV)

Beloved, we as Christians are not immune to pain, violence, injustice, rape, torture, terrorism, etc. I have news for you; as we approach the end of this age we will, exclusively, be the target of such hate.

AR-150629910.jpg&maxw=800&q=90

I don’t know the nine brothers and sisters that were killed by twenty-one year old Dylann Roof at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. But I know they were Godly. Through church history, if you want to identify the true believers from the ones with a form of Godliness, pay attention to who is being persecuted. Roof told police that he “almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to him,” sources told NBC News — but he decided he had to “go through with his mission.” I know they were Godly by the reaction of their family and friends. No Al Sharpton, no instigating more hate, but a reaction of love and forgiveness in the mix of such indescribable pain.

The Killer

Even as Matthew 24 describes a very scary scenario, it also gives us what our focus should be. The greatest demonic attack of all is not the things I have described here, but cold hearts towards God. Matthew 24:12 tells us,

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. (NKJV)

It is so easy, with all the mess we see today’s days, to be angry, to be discouraged and to focus so much in what the world is doing and coming against it, that we forget about God. We get frustrated even with God for allowing these things and, not doing something about it quick enough for us.

So we most focus on nurturing our love for God and pursuing the realization of the first commandment in our hearts. That is the focus, in the mix of all…that is the focus! A cold heart will always lead us to more sin. The Bible encourages us to persevere until the end. On the other hand, what should be the focus of our ministries? Matthew 24:14 tells us,

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (NKJV)

The expansion of God’s Kingdom, that is, winning souls for Christ and bringing them into the family of God should be the focus of all ministries. The Gospel is relevant and the only hope in this world. Beloved, the Lord asked me a couple of months ago if I was willing to die for the vision He has giving me. I don’t want to get killed and I want neither my family, friends, brothers nor sisters to get killed. However, know, that we will increasingly be the exclusive targets of evil.

So may the Lord get me ready and may the Lord get you ready for the honor of dying for the sake of the name that is above every name, the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

ema2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unwillingness to Fellowship


unidos

One of the things that did not make sense to me from the beginning of my Christian life was our Sunday morning gatherings. If I missed a few Sundays, I knew somebody was going to call me and throw Hebrews 10:25 at me, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” The teaching is that, in order for us to fulfill this Bible verse, all we have to do is come together on Sundays for a specific, repetitive “order of service”. We will listen to the same worship team, the same style of music, and, at times, the same songs. We will give our tithes and offerings, listen to the message from the same man of God Sunday after Sunday. In some cases, we will get prayed for, and out we go; everybody on their own way to their favorite restaurants or straight home. So, as long as I show up to that service (especially if I make it to the mid-week service) I was all that and a spiritual bag of chips. Even after all these years, this philosophy does not sit well with me.

Our gathering together is way more than coming together for a Sunday morning show. Let’s read this verse in its context,

24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (NKJV)

  1. In our gatherings we are called to consider one another: This is more than just sitting by each other with chairs looking in the same direction. To consider one another is to pay attention to one another, to study one another and to show care for one another.
  2. That consideration for one another is designed to do two powerful things in the life of a believer:
  3. Stir up Love: The fulfillment of the whole law is love. (Mark 12:30-31)
  4. Promote good works: Faith without works is dead (James 2:17)
  5. In our gatherings we are called to encourage one another.

Notice that when we are told not to forsake our gathering it says nothing about a church service or about listening to the same man or woman preaching the Word to us. That gathering is way more than a Sunday Service. Not that I am teaching against teachers or even coming together on Sundays, but these verses are speaking of “one another”. That “one another” blessing can only take place in true fellowship. John tells us,

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. John 1:7 (NKJV)

What we do on Sundays has nothing to do with fellowship; in fellowship we share our lives, we eat at each other’s house, we gather around the cross, around God’s Word; the spiritual gifts flow from everybody and the freedom of God’s Spirit moves in our lives. In true fellowship we enjoy each other’s presence; we share in each other’s birthday, we watch the game together, we play together, we enjoy diverse celebrations together, we enjoy cookouts together, etc. Fellowship is what comes natural for true family and friends; how much more we, God’s people.

What we have in many churches are “God bless you” relationships on Sundays with people that are totally disconnected from one another the rest of the week. We do not call each other, we do not visit each other, and we do not help each other. That is because we do not know each other enough to miss each other. We miss our families and our friends, but do we really miss our church family?

I said this many times and I will say this again; until we frequently eat at each other’s dining room tables, we are not family; that’s what families do. Furthermore, our unwillingness to fellowship is an indicator of a deeper spiritual issue. If we walk in the light, our desire to fellowship should be a natural desire. Our refusal to fellowship is then an indicator of our darkness.

 

It Is Time to Get In Trouble for Jesus


In Prison for Jesus

Two things are for sure; that is, if you are serious about your Christian faith,

  1. You will be persecuted. (Matthew 5:11)
  2. You will offend some people. (I Peter 2:8)

During this Christmas season, I found how annoying it is to see the world celebrate Christmas without any acknowledgment of Christ. Not only that, but to see how they come against the true essence of this holiday season, truly irks me. They decorate, put up the Christmas tree, have their parties and sing songs without any mention of the wonderful story of the manger. It is an in-your-face attack!

These are times of great denunciation against the gospel here in our beautiful America. It is not yet in the form of physical violence, but it is in the form of social and cultural rejection mixed with the agonizing spirit of political correctness. Brothers and sisters, we must be bold and continue to proclaim the Gospel in our places of influence. People are literally dying and going to hell all around us.

People are confused as they see folks with international recognition, walking around with titles of Reverend, but insisting in promoting a message of violence and hate. People are confused when they see actors that openly declare their Christian faith, but openly fornicate as well; as if fornication is something Biblically acceptable. Isaiah 5:20 tells us,

 “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (NKJV)

I think we are in those days, don’t you think? The things that we see make no sense. Common sense is out the door and there is no desire for the truth! The only way to avoid persecution and offending people is by keeping our mouths shut. Only those that are friends with the world are doing well in their own eyes, but the Bible tells us,

 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

But I say, speak the truth, no matter what. Many will reject that truth, but some will receive it and will be added into the family of God. James 4:4 (NKJV)

We are so afraid of getting in trouble, so afraid of offending, so afraid of people not liking us; so we compromise the Gospel for the sake of our own fears and selfish ambitions. But I have to tell you beloved, many of us will lose our jobs for no reason, many of us will end-up in prison just for preaching the Gospel, and yes, many of us will lose our lives. I must point out that these things are happening in other countries around the world, even now as I write these words.

We are called to obey the law of the land, but there is one law that we are not called to follow but to violate every time, and that is any law designed to stop us from preaching the Gospel. He will provide, He will give us peace in the midst of all, and He will give us the power to overcome. It is time to get in some trouble for Jesus.