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…

 

The Indestructible Marriage


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Just married couple, holding hands and walking in nature

I am inspired by some marriages I have seen since I came to Alaska. My job takes me into homes where I see wives taking care of their husbands and husband taking care of their wives. 30, 40, and fifty plus years after they said “I do”, after facing the challenges of marriage, some overcoming even adultery, alcohol abuse; some facing the challenges of dementia, diverse disabilities and many other challenges. I have been able to see, with my own eyes, examples of people that actually took serious the words, “For better and for worst, in sickness and in health, in riches and in lack.”

The Apostle Paul spoke plenty in First Corinthians 7 concerning marriage; on verse 28 he stated, “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) That word trouble is the Greek word Thlípsis, meaning, “To crush, press, compress, squeeze, which is from thláō (n.f.), to break. Tribulation, trouble, affliction.”[1] I heard folks say that love never hurts; nothing can be further from the truth. The Bible tells us in First Corinthians 13:4 that “Love suffers long…” (NKJV)

I take the liberty to say that either suffering is multiplied by second, third marriages and beyond or, the tolerance for suffering decreases in a significant way. What we know for sure is that the statistics for divorce increase dramatically. The divorce statistics for first marriages are already alarming; they are in average at 45% to 50%; second marriages 60% to 67% and third marriages 70% to 73%.

I have noticed that there is a level in marriages that is very rare. It is what I like to call, the Cross Over Level; this is the Agape love level; this is the level where marriages do not talk about divorce and separation with every single argument. As long as divorce and separation still comes up in every argument, your marriage is still in the infant stage, the selfish stage and the foolish stage. Marriages that are mature still argue; it still difficult! As we can clearly see in First Corinthians 7:28, pain is a biblical reality. Marriage is not cookies, milk, flowers and butterflies. However, the cross over level in marriages rise above all that, it is the commitment that establishes, you are my wife and I am your husband no matter what. Even as you get on my last nerves I will always be there for you, in the good times, the bad times and the ugly times. These are marriages that can only be destroyed by continual adultery, domestic violence and death itself.

I pray for a marriage that is filled with the Philadelphia love (Friendship). I pray for a marriage that is fill with the Romantic love. But neither one of these kinds of love is strong enough to survive the tough times. For the tough times, the Agape love is the only force that will help us cross over. Show me a marriage that end up in divorce and many reasons could be given for such failure; but there is really one reason, they never learn to love each other with the Agape love. Show me a long marriage and, without a doubt, they were transformed by the Agape love. The Agape love never fails.[2]

 

 

 

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

[2] First Corinthians 13:8

Consider the Alternative: A Word for Marriages


Marriage is difficult, very difficult! The Apostle Paul tells us in First Corinthians 7:28, “…Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.” (NKJV) I go as far as to say that marriage is overrated, Paul backs me up when he states, “But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.” First Corinthians 7:36-38 (NKJV) These verses are referring to fist marriages, when you add second and third marriages with children it gets even more difficult.

         Paul even sees marriage as a distraction for ministry, “There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.” First Corinthians 7:34-35 (NKJV)

         So then, why do we get marry? Two main reasons: 1) It still not good for a man to be alone.[1] And 2) It is better to marry than to burn.[2]     My mom also gave me a good reason. My dad is a great man now, but he used to drink a lot, committed adultery several times and was not the easiest guy to get alone with. I asked her, why did you stay? She told me, because I considered the alternative; you guys growing up without a dad, me raising you guys as single mom, etc.” I am so grateful that my mom considered the alternative! Have you considered the alternatives?

         There is a strong spirit of divorce that is taking over our society and even our churches. Seems like with every argument divorce comes up; as long as that is so, the spirit of divorce is in your house. Beloved, unless there is continual adultery, domestic violence, any kind of child abuse and things of that matter, stop whining, grow up from your teenage little fantasies and make up your mind to consider the alternative. That man or that woman is not there to complete you; only God can do that. If you are going into your second marriage it is going to get harder. If there are children involved even harder. With every divorce and every marriage is going to get harder.

So now that you are marry, it will do you well to understand your role as a husband and your role as a wife.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:22-33 New King James Version (NKJV)

[1] Genesis 2:18

[2] First Corinthians 7:9

Not Marry Yet? A Word of Advise


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“I want to share the rest of my life with you.” This is a very common expression for people who want to get marry. The older I get, the more I discover that this expression is just wrong!

What makes a marriage great is a “mutual” commitment to God. Do you both share a passion for Jesus and a passion to serve His people? You can’t have one spouse pressing on to God in holiness and the other listening to Snoop Dogg’s music and bringing R-Rated movies and immoral garbage to the home. Believe me, that’s not going to work. This issue of unequally joke (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) is not just a thing of Christians not allowed to marry people outside of the faith. This unequally joke thing is applicable among Christians themselves. That is because today’s days we have an approach to the Gospel where it seems like there is no absolutes, everybody is doing whatever they want. This is the Burger King Gospel, where everybody have it their way!

What makes a marriage great is the sense that we can count on each other, no matter what. It is the embracing of the Agape love, the unconditional love, the love that is able to see beyond toilet seats left up, bad breath, bad cooking, in sickness, in the good times and even in the bad times, when there is money in the bank and when we can only afford Ramen Noodles with hot dogs. I am talking about a marriage where even as not exempt from issues; at least they both know that divorce is not a constant threat or, one mistake away from reality.

See beloved, we have believed so much fallacies concerning marriage. We hear things like, “Love never hurt.” Really? LOL!!!!! My Bible tells me that love suffers long (First Corinthians 13:4) Furthermore, First Corinthians 7 is dedicated to discourage marriage; however Paul establishes, very clearly, that because of fornication is better to marry (First Corinthians 7:9) Furthermore, First Corinthians 7:28 closes the case on the nightmare that a marriage can be,

“But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.” (NIV)

Finally, even as the list is longer than this, let me finish with something the Lord told me some time ago; it is not about sharing our lives, it is about sharing our passions. If you and your spouse do not share some similar passions, you are up to a tough ride in your marriage. Do you like the outdoors? Are you passionate about going outside and enjoying God’s creation? Make sure your spouse do also because if she acts as if she is allergic to vitamin D you are going to be taking those long walks by yourself.

What about if you both already have children? Are you both “old school” in your parenting styles or, is one of you embracing this new way of parenting where parents do not correct their children for fear of hurting their feeling? You better get that straight before marriage because it will be a nightmare. Over 80 percent of blended families end-up in divorce and parenting styles is the number one reason. What do you like to do for fun? Any similarities there? Pay attention to that before you get marry or you will be in a very boring situation.
Beloved, sharing our lives is not enough; that is because, if my life stinks, then I will just be sharing my stinky life with you. But if we share similar passion, from the bed to that long walk, we will, in the mix of all, enjoy good times, special moments and eternal memories together.

The Troubles of the Thing Call Marriages


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“But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.” (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7‬:‭28‬ NIV)

If your marriage is going through it right now, consider this. Those who tell you that marriage is all cookies, flowers, butterflies and sweet hot milk with honey, are lying to you.

Marriage will have you facing many troubles. Much junk will come out of your spouse after the wedding night and, most importantly, much junk will come out of you.

In First Corinthians 7, if you read carefully, the Apostle Paul is not promoting marriage. However, he establishes clearly that marriage is not a sin, that is ok to marry. He also speaks about the many troubles it will bring. Paul saw marriage as an obstacle to the fulness of our relationship with God.

However, the point is made very strongly, that if you can’t control yourself sexually, is better to marry. For those, like me, who do not posses the gift of self-control, you are better off marrying.

For those that are already marry and considering divorcing, I say, remember what was like before you got marry. Stop lying to yourself; you know it was rough! The Bible establishes, from the beginning, that it is not good for a man to be alone; this is speaking about those men without self-control.

Beloved, unless adultery or domestic violence are showing up at your house, take your time, remember those lonely nights and the crazy things you did, and fight for your marriage. Work it out; let that Agape Love flow…It is a worthy fight!