Taking a Look at Family and Ministry


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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…

 

I am Not Called to Change the World


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I believe that one of the ideas that continue to consume our pulpits is the idea that we, as Christians, are called to change the world. Many also go as far as blaming the Christians for the condition of the world.

         I have been a member of many local churches. Personally, I have been a pastor of two small congregations and I am the first to tell you that we, the church, are not where we are suppose to be. Nevertheless, part of the reason for that reality is that we are focusing on the wrong thing.

         But how do we relate to this world system? What is our responsibility?

In Luke 4:18-19 Jesus announced the essence of his job description and in fact, the job description of all of us as Christians,

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,

Because He has anointed Me

To preach the gospel to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives

And recovery of sight to the blind,

To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (NKJV)

 

         The reasons for the anointing of God in our lives is clear: 1) To preach the gospel to the poor. 2) To heal the brokenhearted. 3) To proclaim liberty to the captives. 4) To recover the sight to the blind. 5) To set at liberty those who are oppressed. And, 5) To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. None of these reasons speak about changing the world; changing laws or the constitution.

         We will never eradicate this world system; that is because we are not called to do so. God will destroy this system in one hour! Revelation 18:10 tells us,  standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.” (NKJV)

         Beloved, we are not from here; we are citizens of heaven.[1] We are vessels of clay[2] in the hands of God. Our greatest evangelistic tool is to love one another, for the Bible tells us in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (NKJV).

         We need to fix our house, get back to the pure teaching of God’s Word and sound doctrine. We need to make room and prepare our hearts to receive new disciples, teach them and equip them in the Lord and send them out so that they can do the same for others.

         We go and make disciples by going into the highways and compelling them to come.[3] We go and feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, reach out to the stranger, cloth the naked, look after the sick and minister to those in prison.”[4] We give them, not a man-made religion, but the pure and undefiled religion that does not ignore the orphans and widows in their troubles.[5]

         We need to cleanse ourselves from the mediocrity of our teaching and preaching, from our compromising views, from our political correctness, from our spiritual laziness, from our denominational worship, from our distractions and ultimately, from our lack of faith in believing that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.

 

 

 

 

[1] Philippians 3:20

[2] 2 Corinthians 4:7

[3] Luke 14:23

[4] Mathew 25:35-36

[5] James 1:27

God is Enough!


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We can’t escape the arrogance of the secular world system. It is all around us. They set their degrees, their certifications, licensing, federal programs, systems, entertainment industry, fashion, etc. In all, no mention, not even a small acknowledgment of God All Mighty. That is so because the devil is the god of this world system according to 2 Corinthians 4:4. You want to know why things are so messed up. That is because we are not under a system dominated by Godly principles, but to the contrary, a system that is designed to promote the destruction of societies, families and lives in general. The devil’s agenda is a destructive agenda (John 10:10).

The sad thing is when we, as God’s people, go after the validation of the world, when we as God’s people, reject God and His ways to follow a failed system. This is nothing new, it was the same spirit that seduced the children of Israel to asked for a king (First Samuel 8)

Have you noticed that the world system is not about results? From the beginning it is what it is, an unfinished tower (Genesis 11). They are good in addressing issues, but pitiful in fixing anything. That is because they totally reject God’s intervention. On the other hand, God is a God of results. The Bible tells us in First John 2:27,

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.(NKJV)

I do not promote ignorance. It is a Biblical mandate for God’s people to study and show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15). But the moment we lose sight of God and place our hope in anything else, but God, we become a part of this world system. It is the anointing of God that breaks the yoke, not the secular system. (Isaiah 10:27) The anointing of God is effective. Let’s talk about that world system. This world system has a beginning and his end is coming.

  • It all started in heaven with Satan wanting to be like God (Isaiah 14:14).
  • It was introduced in the Garden as Satan, in the form of a serpent effectively questioned what God established as truth. (Genesis 3)
  • And, it took off in the Tower of Babel as the enemy used a man by the name of Nimrod (Genesis 10:10 / Genesis 11)
  • It continues powerfully through our days as the Babylonian system and it will continue until the end of this age. Its destruction is a Biblical reality. Revelation 18:1-4 tells us,

 

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.(KJV)

            We, as God’s people, are not called to hate people that are not saved. We are not called to walk around as ignorant people who hate education or people who stay in hiding. We are the ambassadors of God’s light. We carry the truth; we carry the power and the effective solution for the main problem facing our world today, sin. Our only hope is Jesus. We are called to surrender our lives totally to Him, and to refuse to mix with the world system. Beloved, God is enough.

An Enemy Called Formality


A man pushing or resisting (isolated on white)
A man pushing or resisting (isolated on white)

Today as I was taking a walk during my lunch break at work, I started thinking about one word, “Formality”. “A formality is something that follows traditional rules. Even though you knew your request for time off at work would be approved, you still went through the formality of filling out all the required paperwork. Formality also means to align with customs or etiquette. In this way, a formality is often something that’s more symbolic than necessary.” (vocabulary.com)

Formality requires a group of “experts” on the “proper way of doing things”. In the church today we have many experts on formality, but very little anointing. Formality does not promote, spontaneity, questions or discussions of any kind. Even their “fellowship” becomes filled with formalities.

One of the greatest challenges the church is facing today is indeed “formality.” The Pentecostals have their formalities, the Baptists have theirs, the Presbyterians, the Catholics, the Charismatic Black Church, the Latinos, etc. Formality is everywhere; but we should not pursue formalities; we should be organic in our relationship with God and in our relationship with one another.

For something to be organic it must derived from living organism. Have you noticed that organic foods are usually smaller? However, they are richer in substance and in taste. A formal church is usually boring and the focus becomes the order of service. An organic church is alive because it embraces a lifestyle of listening to God.

When you bring a small group of people and they spontaneously engage in conversations there is no pressure; it may start a little awkward, but if you have a group of true believers; they will always bring up the love of their lives…Jesus Christ! However, as soon as we make it look formal people gets nervous.  It becomes a public speaking event.

Jesus did it all; He spoke to large groups, in the Synagogues, to the disciples only and to individuals. But everything was organic and not formal. We never read that Jesus was the guess speaker; He just spoke.

Is amazing to me that the Bible makes reference to listening to our conversations, yet no reference to God listening to our Bible Studies and sermons!

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,

And the Lord listened and heard them;

So a book of remembrance was written before Him

For those who fear the Lord

And who meditate on His name. Malachi 3:16 (NKJV)

Have you ever been in Bible Studies where you have a few that seem to love to listen to themselves and share their great revelations, but when you catch them, “just talking” outside of Bible studies, Jesus is the last topic they chose to talk about it?

It is easy to put a Bible Study together; it is easier to just sit there and punch the clock, but if you want to see somebody’s heart, just listen to his or her conversation; that’s the real deal (Matthew 12:34). As my wife and I open our home for Bible Studies and fellowship, the challenge becomes to bring down traditions of man and enter into a place where we as God’s people can be free.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV)

 

Is it Ok to Cry?


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Is God greater than our pain? Yes! Can God do all things? Absolutely! However, none of these Biblical facts are able to minimize or dismiss painful circumstances, the lost of a spouse, a child, mom, dad, a best friend or so on.

         Come on brothers, it is not a violation of your faith to accept that you are hurting! Also, stop mocking pain and tears. In John 11:35 the Bible gives us the shortest Bible verse of all, “Jesus wept”. Even as Jesus knew He was going to resurrect Lazarus, He still wept. Why? He identified himself with the pain of the people. Don’t tell me Jesus wept because of the lack of faith of the people. If that were the case, Jesus would have cried for his own disciples all the way to the cross. He would have cried when they doubted Him, when Peter denied Him, when Judah betrayed Him and so on. Those were more dramatic examples!

         We live in a time when our churches don’t know what to do with pain. One large group focuses on all you can get (The prosperity Gospel) and the other focuses on doing. They place your call as the absolute most important thing in the world. So they fix everything with, “I must pursue the call of God in my life, no time to cry, no time to feel pain, no time to identify with nobodies pain either.”

           The reality is that Jesus connected with and continues to connect with people’s pain, and He tells us to do the same. The Bible put it this way,

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 (NKJV)

 

Beloved, it is ok to cry!

Everything Gets Old


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Everything gets old after while. The new car will lose the new car smell. That new pair of Jordan’s will get some scratches on it, they will really get old when the new pair of Jordan’s hits the market. That iPhone that you can’t seem to be able to take your hands off will be a thing of the past three months later when the new design is introduced. That girl friend will not be as pretty after marriage. Your husband’s six-pack will turn into a gallon. That job that was so exciting in the beginning, but now you can do with your eyes closed, yes, that one will get old to.

      The list does not stop here; the reality is that everything gets old after while. That is indeed a Biblical principle; Ecclesiastes 1:1 tells us,

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; 
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” (NKJV)

 

      The man that gave life to these words was not a poor man or a man who did not have access to education or great life experiences. The man who wrote these words was the great Salomon. Salomon had everything, he was king of Israel during the best times of this great nation, and Salomon married whomever he wanted. He was surrounded with beauty, fame, riches and an unmatched wisdom. Nevertheless, this man concluded that, all is vanity.

      This article may come across as depressing and hopeless, but is really describing the condition of a life where Jesus is not the center.

      One of the things I am learning is that the center of our lives can’t ever be empty. Something will always be there occupying that space. When that center is not Jesus then an idol is.

      When an idol is at the center of our lives then we have embrace the process of self-destruction and not the abundant life that can only be successfully provided by Jesus. Removing Christ from the center is the greatest tragedy in the history of humanity. Wherever Christ is not embrace as a King, Savior and Lord death reign.

      In the New Testament we have a graphic example of a human heart without Christ. In John chapter four we see the story of the Samaritan woman,

13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14 (NKJV)

      The only thing that will never get old is Christ, he said, “…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.” In John 6:35 Jesus takes this thing further as he declares,

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (NKJV)

 

      Jesus is giving us spiritual principles; in Him we will never be spiritually thirsty or hungry. Beloved, Jesus is the hope of this world. I think that many of us are tired of church’s rituals and man made religion. Our church gatherings are also getting old. We are not doing a good job expressing the awesomeness of Christ in our gathering. But I encourage you to be inspired by the Samaritan Woman. Her encounter with Christ, transformed her, and her community.