Sunday, December 6, 2015

A few good thoughts.

Spiritual disciplines of a Godly pastor:

1. Read, read, read, and read some more.

2. Pray, pray, pray, and pray some more, realizing that though prayer is to be constant, eventually steps of faith need to be taken.

3. Utilize biblical commentaries and other biblical study aids and/or software.

4. Surround yourself with Godly people who will keep you accountable and whom you don't have a problem with taking their advice/biblical criticism.

5. Know what the Bible says on the character of a pastor and practice those things.

6. Lead  by example.  The person you are in church does influence others, either negatively or positively.  Choose for the glory of God.

7. Put energy into your ministry and all the ministries that you, alone, can handle.  Dont depend on others to offer or be willing to serve in every ministry, but when they do, it will be a blessing.....and when that happens, then you can add other ministries or refocus on existing projects.

Practical disciplines of a Godly pastor:

1. Spend time getting your life and family organized to suit the ministry and ministries you're involved in.

2. If you’re not willing to say “no” to other people most of the time, you will never accomplish your priorities or be efficient in various ministries.

3. Develop healthy communication with those all around you.

4. Know your own limits and the limits of those in your church.

5. Never expect too much or ask too much of people.

6. Discipline yourself to take one day off a week to rest/replenish/refresh and connect with your family.

7. Take your vacation time every year to disconnect from ministry in order to have a blast with your family.

8. Lead by example.  The person you are outside of church does influence others, either negatively or positively.  Choose for the glory of God.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

BREAKING: Marty McFly was nowhere to be found

        It seemed to be a monumental day that was approaching for Back to the Future fans all over.  October 21st was the day that Marty was scheduled to spontaneously appear from the past.  There were posts all over facebook, news headlines and even the top 10 predictions from the iconic 80's movie, and what ones came true or seem to be.  (I.e. the Cubs in the World Series)  However,  Marty was nowhere to be found on this iconic day in history.   At times, it almost seemed surreal, with all this excitement and hype going around.  (Well, that might be an exaggeration, but that's the piont. )

        There will be an appearing made that infinitely supersedes any real life cameo that can be made by anyone on earth.  That's because the person I'm referring to is the Almighty Son of God.  The One and Only Savior of all mankind who rightly deserves a much much greater excitement in anticipation from his children!  The first appearing of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was also so accurately prophesied,  which should give Christians even greater confirmation that His prophecies are true.  Those who do not have a relationship with Christ will one day know the seriousness and true faithfulness of God.   As I perused through my back to the future filled news feed on facebook,  I couldn't help but wonder why Christians don't seem this excited for the imminent return of our Lord and Savior.  

1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words."


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The ever present struggle to "Rejoice with them that do Rejoice"

           Have you ever been there?  That place, that moment, when you look around the room after a friend has announced (of course with their new significant other) that they are in a relationship, or even just the sight of seeing a new couple, you realize, while in a dazed stupor that you're the only person not jumping up and down?  You're the only one not squealing with excitement, shouting congratulations and singing praises to God, or drenching them with love?

And. It. Is. Awkward.

         It's not because you're unhappy for them, because of course you are.  It’s just that every couple announcement brings a tsunami wave of emotions that crashes over you, am I right?  And the intensity of these emotions, leave you breathless. And numb. And scared.  And…well…not yourself.  It’s within the first 60 seconds of their joyous announcement you instantly feel happiness, joy, sometimes relief for that person because you know their struggle, but also there's bitterness, anger, sadness and grief, even resentment, all at once.   Not necessarily towards them, but towards your own circumstances. Because why haven’t your prayers been answered? Are you not worthy? Don’t you deserve a mate just as much as they do?

           It’s also within that same 60 seconds you feel joy and happiness for them. And even a sense of relief and hope. Relief that they will never have to endure the pain of singleness anymore, and also a rare form of hope, hope that maybe, just maybe it might be your turn next. People dont realize these emotions that come so fast and so hard, which are hugely difficult to juggle.  Especially in a group setting…with an audience, because you're convinced everyone is staring at you and waiting.  Waiting and wondering.  Waiting for your reaction.  And wondering what you might be thinking, or feeling.

Is he happy? Will he cry? What will he say? Is he mad? I wonder if he is jealous? 
            Romans 12:15 commands the Christian to "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."  A Christian that has been, and may continue to have to struggle with singleness, also struggles immensely with a tsunami, hurricane, tornado, (whatever natural disaster you want to equate this too) of questions of "is something wrong with me?", "why?", "when is it my turn?" "Will I ever experience a relationship? " "How will this point me to God?".  And these same questions, and there's more (I only put a few), flood the mind of that Christian single every time they see a new couple, get invited to a wedding,  or maybe they don't even get an invite, but just know a couple is getting married, a new baby announcement,  their buying a house, going on a really cool date (well......any type of date would be great...) At times, that Christian single won’t be able to hold back the tears and give people the joyful congratulations they deserve.  I know, I've been at weddings, but couldn't talk because of the quivering lips and heart-wrenching and real pain.  Not only is this also an overwhelming feeling of guilt, but another part of the guilt we feel is that this new couple sees our waterfall of tears and quivering lips and most likely have the perception that is for them and it's just that we're so overjoyed for them, and we're speechless.  Sadly and unfortunately, it has very little to do with them and therein lies the guilt.  This should be a moment when we express our excitement and sincere happiness,'s not.  Not because we aren't thinking of those things and don't want to express them.  There is just SO much in these emotions and it's too much to try to even explain....even after a few days when we're calm.  We are in immense pain. And we can’t stop the feelings we feel from the hurt of singleness, and most often the loneliness that accompanies, or the fearful thoughts we have that this joy and excitement you now have, may never come true for us. And it’s hard. It makes us feel like an awful person, because we know the right thing to do is set aside our pain for their joy, but sometimes in that moment......we can’t.  We really want to, but we just can’t.

              I realize not every Christian struggling with singleness feels or reacts this way, because while I may not always like being told in a group setting, others may prefer that.  In fact, the thought of someone else treating them differently or "tip-toeing" around them, may infuriate some.  We're all struggling in our own ways. We're all dealing with different wounds.  Different scars.  Different past experiences.  And we're all in different stages of grief.  But I believe despite the differences and despite the struggles, we're all in need of the same grace. Grace to help us rejoice to the best of our abilities. Grace to give us the strength to overcome our unpredictable emotions. Grace to see us through our painful and heart-wrenching circumstances.  And grace to help us never give up hope that maybe, just maybe, our turn will be next.

             But with that grace, I also believe there needs to be compassion. And so if you're reading this today and are either in a strong relationship or married, can I make a suggestion? A suggestion on how to share your news in a group setting that has someone you know struggling and praying every day, every minute, or every second for their own relationship? Or maybe you have shared it with everyone, but not them because your not quite sure how to and want to be sensitive. So while I know it sounds like an awesome opportunity to announce it in front of your friends or family members at the big family get together, it’s probably going to be a very uncomfortable time for your single and ever-mindful-of-their-singleness friend or family member.  Maybe even potentially reopen a wound that was just starting to scab over.  Or cause them embarrassment as they are unable to hold back the waterfall of tears that sometimes accompany the pain they are feeling.  And so in order to possibly help shield those wounds and allow them to “rejoice with those who rejoice” to the best of their ability, (and in their own unique way) can I offer you my number one tip or suggestion or piece of advice? (however you want to look at it)
If so, here it is…

              I know this may seem like more trouble than its worth, but sit them down, privately, just you two and them.  Maybe not even start the conversation with "so me and so and so are dating....." they see you two together. They get it. Talk to them as if nothing has changed and know that in the meantime, the news of another couple that they have to get used to is being processed.  They need time to process that information. Process their grief. Process all their emotions.  There may be some tears, tears of joy, but also of sorrow, for themselves.  However, know that they really do want to support you, and they really do want to be there with everyone else, but they just might need that extra time to pull themselves together in order to do so.

              A lot of people may read this and get the sense that whenever a Christian single has a break down at the mention of a relationship, that they are just being incredibly selfish and looking for attention.   Although, sadly, some Christian singles may use their circumstances to get others to pity them, there are a few who do not think that way in the least.  This is also part of the overwhelmingly guilty feelings that go through our minds and hearts.  We know that others may percieve our breakdown as an act of selfishness, but we're just trying to get through this moment.  

               These are a lot of reasons behind a single person's breakdown and struggle, but there is so much more to it, but for the reasons above, we need grace, compassion, understanding,  and sensitivity from others.  Now, you may be asking yourself, "why don't they say so?"  It's hard to talk about your own struggle and sometimes just talking about things, we can feel the emotions creeping up inside, and we just don't want to have another public breakdown, so to avoid that, they may change the subject, or even walk away. 

               I hope that’s not too hard too ask, is it?  It’s doable right?  Because telling them privately still allows you to share your awesome news in front of your friends and family......just others need time and care.  As was said earlier, some people don't like when others feel the need to "tip-toe" around them, but to some, it shows incredible care and thought for their well-being.

Friday, September 11, 2015

To tolerate or not to tolerate?

        More and more often, with everything that is happening in the world, it's hard for a Christian to remember to love and to show the loving side of Christianity.   There are many scripture verses that command the Christian's separation from this and that, and that separation is from things that oppose God's Word and, in some cases, very specific situations from other people and of course, these demand certain indications,  but in general, we are to love our neighbors.   In this post, I will look at all the passages with this commandment and, Lord willing, the reader will be encouraged from God's Word.
         I did a simple search through the Bible of where Christians are told to love their neighbor and there are at least 9 instances.  These are the clearest, in my opinion.


Leviticus 19:18 "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD."

Leviticus 19:34 "But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."

Matthew 19:19 "Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Matthew 22:37-39 "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Mark 12:30-31 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."

Luke 10:27 "And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."


Romans 13:9b "...and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Galatians 5:14 "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

James 2:8 "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:"
             The majority of these passages are found during the dispensation of law and therefore most would conclude that because Christians are no longer under the law, but under grace, this command is obselete.   Unfortunately,  this is untrue because there are 3 other times in the new testament that this command is directed to Christians in the dispensation of grace.  
            I fear that a lot of people, christians included, taint the perception of Christianity for their lack of love towards others, myself included.  In acknowledging all the Christians that are suffering persecution and wrongful imprisonments all over the world, there is a lesson in loving the person more than the sin the rest of us need to learn from their example. 
          The Bible commands that Christians love their neighbor. Below, I have put the original Greek and Hebrew terms and emphasized a commonality in both.  Another person.  According to the Bible,  a neighbor is another person, regardless of their social status, skin color, choice of religion or lifestyle.  All  people are to be shown love by Christians. 

Greek word:

Original: πλησίον
Transliteration: plēsion
Phonetic: play-see'-on
Thayer's definitions
1. a neighbour
2. a friend
3. any other person, and where two are concerned, the other (thy fellow man, thy neighbour), according to the Jews, any member of the Hebrew nation and commonwealth
4. according to Christ, any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet

Hebrew word:

Original: ריע רע
Transliteration: rêa‛ rêya‛
Phonetic: ray'-ah
BDB Definition:
1. friend, companion, fellow, another person
2. friend, intimate
3. fellow, fellow-citizen, another person (weaker sense) other, another

           How do Christians lack in this?

           Well, that's easy to do.  Simply by being unfriendly can be the simplest way a Christian can give the perception of unloving.  Sometimes it is unintentional........but sometimes it can be intentional.  For example, the Lord may bring people into our lives for the very reason to teach us how to love, properly.  However, Christians can sometimes say things that seem like it is a chore to associate with a particular person.   Christians may wonder to themselves or even ask their fellow Christians, why are you talking to that person?......or you don't want to talk to them, do you?  I think you may see the point.   It is vital for a Christian to love others, and to speak in a loving way, both to their fellow Christians and to people that they may not want to be friendly to. 
       The title of this post is to tolerate or not to tolerate.  There are many, many evils, sins and situations in the Bible that are necessary, and needful, for the Christian to avoid and, not tolerate.  Sin needs to be shunned from the life of the Christian and when Christians associate themselves with those who practice sin on a daily basis, (hint: we all do)  there is very little room for intolerance for the person, not the sin.   Throughout history, people have tried to practice intolerance, to no avail.  People like Adolf Hitler (though there was A LOT MORE on his agenda) was very intolerant of people and yet, Christians still seem to tolerate people that are persecuting and wrongfully imprison them, simply for being a christian. It is very possible to love a person so much aside from their political views, lifestyle, what they favor or don't favor, etc., and still love them, as a person created in the image of God.

John 15:12 "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."
       One of the many ways that we as children of God, can show love to each other is by first sharing the truth of God's love and that God loves everybody so much, that He gave his only son to die for the sins of the world.  Whoever will believe that, will have an eternal relationship with the One who loved and created them. (John 3:16)  Another way, is to look past all the sin in someone's life and to love them, the person, created in God's image.

1 John 4:7-11 "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Should Christians regard halloween?

        One of the most significant days of the year, for unbelievers, is approaching and it seems as though a lot of Christians tend to take advantage of this day to pass out tracts and share the gospel of Christ's sacrifice, or decide to join in on the fun even if they decide not to pass out tracks or anything.  However,  is this really something that the true Christian should be doing?  Let's look at what the Bible says, but before examining what the Bible says about participating in this day, let's remind ourselves of the origins and very real existence of what halloween celebrates; witches, witchcraft,  and the occult.  Here is a brief look at the origins.

      The Halloween customs the world observes on October 31st had their beginnings long ago. The origins and traditions can be traced back thousands of years to the days of the ancient Celts and their priests, the Druids of ancient Gaul and Britain. We know little of the Druids, but of certain is that they had an elaborate religious and political organization. Some were soothsayers, magicians, sorcerers, and barbs (composers and reciters of heroes and their deeds). Their religion worshipped numerous gods and natural objects, such as trees, wells, etc., in which magical practices were involved.
        The Druids believed that witches, demons, and spirits of the dead roamed the earth on the eve of November 1st. Bonfires (literally "bone-fires") were lit to drive away the bad spirits. The great bonfires served another purpose as well -- on this night, unspeakable sacrifices were offered by the Druid priests to their Lord of Death (Saman). The celebration was called "The Feast of Samhain" (pronounced SAH-WEEN). The Druids would carefully watch the writhing of the victims in the fire (sometimes animals, sometimes humans). From their death agonies, they would foretell the future (divination) of the village. The local householders then each took a portion of the fire to their own hearths for good luck and good crops in the new year.
         To protect themselves from the mean tricks of these spirits (like killing livestock), the Druids offered them good things to eat (sometimes food, sometimes female children). The Druids also disguised themselves in order that the spirits would think the Druids belonged to their own evil company, and therefore, not bring any harm to the Druids. They also carried "jack-ó-lanterns," a turnip or potato with a fearful, demonic face carved into it, to intimidate the demons around them. And, thus, this "tradition" is carried over today as Halloween and is celebrated by dressing up in costumes, playing trick or treat, wearing masks, and carrying jack-ó-lanterns.
        Much later, the Roman Catholic Church set aside the first day of November to honor all the saints who had no special days of their own. This was known as All Saints' Day, and was preceded by All Hallows' Eve (derived from the word "hallowed" or "holy evening"). Eventually, the two festivals (the old pagan customs and the Roman Catholic feast day) were combined, and All Hallows' Eve was shortened to Hallowe'en. Professing Christians were now provided a convenient "alternative" to the aforementioned pagan ceremonies.
           Despite half-hearted attempts by the Catholic Church to destroy the pagan religious practices associated with Hallowe'en, they have survived. During the Middle Ages, such practices found an outlet in the practice of witchcraft, which was and is devoted to communing with the spirits of the dead and to the worship of Satan himself. While almost every major holiday has been tainted with some form of paganism, none are so deeply immersed in the occult as is Hallowe'en.

            To this day, one of the special "sabbaths" for Satan-worship continues to be October 31st -- HALLOWE'EN!   (Sourced from Biblical Discernment Ministries)

            A wiccan (modern day witch) website describes this day as "A night of magic and chaos." This website also states that "It's generally celebrated on October 31st,  but some prefer November 1st, being the festival of Samhain, 1 of the 2 spirit nights each year, the other, Beltane.  And it's a magical interval when the mundane laws of time and space are temporarily suspended and the thin veil between the worlds (physical and spiritual) is lifted, and communicating with ancestors and departed loved ones is easier at this time.  It's a time to study the dark mysteries and honor the dark mother and dark father, symbolized by the crone."
          A lot of these traditions are still obviously present in todays practice of halloween, and clearly it is a day that is still dedicated to witches, witchcraft, and the occult.  

           I used to live about an hour north of Salem, Massachusetts, where the famous witch trials were held.  Today, there are big parades held during this day every year that celebrate witchcraft and other occult traditions.  Even though I lived an hour north, I remember a lot of ex-coworkers that were and most likely still are very into this celebration.   When I was younger, I was a bag boy and the cashier was a dedicated wiccan (she was only 16 or so years old) and it was quite normal for me to see palm reading shops and psychic businesses along the main roads.  When I moved to PA, I thought that "...halloween is probably not celebrated much.  I mean, I was in the direct radius of where the witch trials were."  I was mistaken.  Halloween and the occult is probably more regarded. My first encounter was with a boy who attended my church.  I soon found out that he was heavily involved with all things paranormal and the spirit world.  Soon afterwards, I was getting a haircut and the lady was bragging about her halloween decorations and that for the next year, she wanted to buy a coffin to display in her yard! I have also talked with multiple people, christians also, who find these things to be fascinating.  My experiences from when I was younger not only drilled it deeper why the Bible takes this evil seriously,  but also how serious it is for people involve themselves in these things.
            Time to explore and examine what the Bible says about all this.  Most references are found in the old testament, however, there are some key passages in the new testament.   In Exodus 7:11 "Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments."  Pharaoh ordered that people involved in these things perform their magic and enchantments.   In 1 Samuel 28: 7-14, the witch of Endor contacts the dead. Deuteronomy 32:16-17 tells us that demonic involvement was intentional.  Even involvement in the occult and witchcraft were grounds for excommunication, according to the law.  Leviticus 17:7-9 says "And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations. 8. And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, 9  And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people."  This sentiment is repeated later in Leviticus 19:31, "Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God."  Exodus 22:18 is very convincing in the tolerance of witches, in which the law demanded, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."  The Lord took these things very seriously, and still does.
        According to Leviticus 19, there is a very real consequence for, even being involved in such things: defilement.  The Hebrew word translated "defiled" is a word that means contamination, in regards to being sexually, religiously, or ceremoniously.   This defilement would affect the spiritual or ceremonial aspect in our lives.  In essence, being involved with the occult or witchcraft,  will very likely hinder our own personal witness endeavors to those that are involved in these practices. In other words, a believer that is involved, whether it be embracing all the traditional practices or just 1, will have a much harder time explaining what the Bible says about separation from these things, (because he/she compromises and does not separate themselves) then if a believer who has completely separated themselves from these practices.
            Finally, in Deuteronomy 18:12 "For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee." The act of how the Lord drove out these abominations, is not too clear in this passage.
            There is only 1 instance I can think of in the old testament in which it is clear how the Lord drove out an evil spirit, and this was through music.  In 1 Samuel 16:23 "And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him." (To learn more about music and it's Biblical role, visit here .)
         There are a few chapters in the new testament dedicated to the subject of Christian liberty, or a Christian involving themselves with something that offends neither them nor God.  According to the Bible, regarding these things is an abomination unto the LORD.   In the new testament, these abominations, along with all fleshly abominations, have been driven out or, more specifically, crucified at the cross of Christ.         
         Witchcraft is a very real existence,  even today.  Paul indicates this for us in Galatians 5 when he states witchcraft as a work of the flesh.  Another clear passage is found in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5. "Abstain from all appearance of evil."  Because this is a day dedicated to evil and the dark mysteries of the spirit world,  this should be a very clear command.  Paul also writes to the believers at Corinth, in 1 Corinthians 10:20-21

          "But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils."  According to this passage, it is a contradiction for a believer to participate, or to even be involved with such things.

        Finally, Ephesians 6:12 is clear in the premise of the Christian's battle grounds and halloween is considered by wiccans to be 1 of their 2 high and holy days during the year. 

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

It is no coincidence that Ephesians 6:12 states the Christian battle to be spiritual.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in HIGH places."

          The verses to follow in 13-17 describe for us the armour in which to defend against this  spiritual wickedness.  Only by the Grace of God will His children be able to stand firm on His truth.  I pray that this post helps to bring Christians to a concrete conviction on these matters. 

1 Corinthians 10:12 "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."

James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Evangelizing or Proselytizing

         Similar to the "Redeeming the Time" posts, there is a distinction to be made in how to witness, to evangelize or proselytize. 
         Biblically speaking, evangelist is found in the Scriptures,  where proselytizing, or any form of the word, is no where to be found, so what's the difference between these two methods?

Here is the meaning and origin of the word evangelist:


Original: εὐαγγελιστής

Transliteration: euaggelistēs

Phonetic: yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace'

Thayer Definition:

a bringer of good tidings, an evangelist
the name given to the NT heralds of salvation through Christ who are not apostles
Origin: from G2097

TDNT entry: 14:16,3

Part(s) of speech: Noun Masculine

Strong's Definition: From G2097; a preacher of the gospel: - evangelist.

Because proselytize is not found anywhere in the Bible, here is the etymology and definition from an online source:

The word proselytize comes from the Greek language and the etymology or the "true sense" of it means converting someone into one's very own path or way of life. 

Proselytizing says that this is truth and I don't care what you think, you need to accept it and seems to have a more forceful connotation in trying to convert or somehow trying to make the person believe the truth and also seems to leave out the free will of man, when evangelizing is basically the act of heralding.  Evangelizing says that this is the truth and it's up to you whether you accept it.  The evangelist realizes that the final decision of whether or not a person believes is between them and the Lord and they don't have anything to do with that, and can't control that heart decision.  
       However,  a lot of Christians seem to have a mindset that they hold the truth and with that seems to come a mindset of proselytizing. We're still human and have a sin nature, but God's word is perfect and only God's Word can change the heart of man.
       I've known pastors that will prepare a message and then tell me that they are re-thinking it simply because they don't want to "go over the people's heads."  That thought is, not only arrogant, but statements like they "need to hear it" is along the lines of proselytizing, especially if that message is not exactly what God's Word says.
         Whether the truth of the Bible being evangelized is directed towards an established church or towards an unbelieving group of VBS kids, it is God's Word that will have the effect. 
     The truth of God is found in scripture.  There's a power in God's Word that is inexplicable and we can explain it in the most eloquent and clear way, but when the actual words are read by a person, it seems to have a supernatural effect. And rightly so since it is God's Word.

Redeeming the time part 2

          My previous post was left stating that in Colossians 4:6, believers are exhorted to be tactful in their witnessing.  Every situation is different, however some situations can obviously dictate certain scripture verses or direction of conversation, but ultimately, all these things will be led by the Lord.  As good stewards of the truth of reconciliation, we as believers need to think before we speak that truth, (James 1:19) so we do not unnecessarily close that door. 
           Being tactful in witnessing is, not only wise to keeping opportunities open and is biblical, but also helps maintain a good testimony before others.  For example: Christian A might be convinced that "redeeming the time" means that every time they have a conversation with an unbeliever, they need to push the love of Christ and force the direction of the conversation.  I know Christians that are convinced of this, but then complain when the unbeliever cuts them off or distances that relationship.  That relationship is now limited and the opportunity for witness to that person is at least hindered, if not ruined.
           On the other hand, Christian B is convinced that "redeeming the time" and the "how" need to be utilized at the same time.  The Lord is sovereign over all and is very capable of directing conversations and situations.   Maintaining a good testimony before others is vital to witnessing.   It shows others a kind of patience that can only come from the love of God, although they may not realize that at first.  In time, and perhaps in their personal reflective times, that may be a factor in their salvation.  People also do not like to be pushed into a decision and have information thrown at them.  Once the unbeliever knows that we are always willing to talk, letting them start the conversations will be much more effective in the long run.  When people know they are being treated with dignity, that simple and basic privilege of letting them make their own decision and being given the time they need to get to whatever that conclusion is, goes a long way and is a huge sign of respect.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Redeeming the time

In Ephesians, is the warning and the encouragement to be " Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."  This word redeeming in the Greek has the idea of ceasing opportunity for good.  As was said in my previous post, prayer is true evangelism and seeing an opportunity to share the love of Christ involves praying for wisdom and discernment as is exhorted in James 1:5

Quoting Romans 8:28a ("And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God")
at a funeral, perhaps, as true and encouraging this is, may not be the best opportunity to reiterate.  

Some Christians see that it's more advantageous to sieze every opportunity,  regardless of the context in which the truth of God is presented.  This may be dangerous.  When Christians present the truth about God's love, or any truth about God, the presentation should be in accordance with God's character.  Back to our funeral example.  That verse is an everlasting, encouraging truth about God and promise to his children. Those who are dealing with immense pain and suffering that will last a very long time, upon hearing that, will most likely "write you off" or at least limit their interactions with you and future opportunities to minister will be lost.

Colossians 4:6 " Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man."

This command in Colossians is very indicative of that parental advice you got as a child.  "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say it."  Though very good and Biblical advice, it only refers to the first part of this verse.  The first half of this verse, along with "redeeming the time" above, is no small feat and needs the watchful and prayerful discernment which can only be sought from the Lord. 

Everyday, there is a slew of reasons for believers to get angered or stressed. (causing a temporary loss of sober thinking).  Adding to all this is the word how in Colossians 4:6.  This tells believers that their is tactfulness involved in knowing what to say and when to say it.  Siezing every opportunity for the glory of God is needful and effective, when the situation allows.  (to be continued....)


How often have you seen someone “stay on track” until college, or twenties, and then "go off the deep end"? Christian faith seems to have all but disappeared and they seem to be embracing their new found “freedom.”

Sadly, I’ve seen that exact scenario happen over and over and over again.

Somewhere along the way we, as Christians, may have missed the point of why we do what we do.

To some, the Christian life has become a list of rules containing do’s and don’ts, and sadly we’ve left our Savior completely out of the picture.

A lot of people view Christianity as restraining them from the “real” fun.

They view Christianity as a list looking something like this…

Don’t have sex until you are married.
Don’t watch bad movies.
Don’t have boyfriend/girlfriend until you are ready to get married.
Don’t curse.
Don’t lie.
Don’t cheat.
Don’t steal.
Don’t drink.
Don’t, don’t, don’t.
The list of don’ts continues on and on and many of us have no idea exactly why we shouldn’t do those things. Much less a real heart conviction on our own.

That list of don’ts is an excellent list containing some excellent advice. That is if it’s viewed from the right perspective. If it’s not viewed from the right perspective, Christianity is nothing more than a rule book with checkboxes to mark off and good works to fulfill.  There are very good and Biblical reasons to avoid all of the above, and a Christian should avoid those things.

Over the years, I have come to understand the “why” behind the do’s and don’ts.

In Matthew, part of Jesus' great commission is to go out into all the world and lead others to Christ.   I have also learned that true evangelism is not always "doing", but praying.  Praying for opportunities to witness to people and praying for God to be working in the hearts of everyone we meet, even before we share the gospel.  Later on in the Bible, Paul states that "To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you."

Not all things a Christian does is rightly percieved.  Some believers are trying to minister to others, yet they have been "written off" by others or perhaps Christians take up a hobby that doesn't seem right to their Christian friends, but are then seen as "gone off the deep end".

Being mission minded is being made aware of the ultimate mission and goal, making Christ known.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Resting in the Sovereignty of God

          So often, we get caught up in the busy-ness of ourselves.  If we aren't caught up in ourselves, it may be ministry or simply getting our life in "order".  It seems we're busy with anything but God and resting in our relationship with Him.  Oswald chambers said:

          "It is never do, do, with the Lord, but be, be and He will do through you."

           There are always times a believer needs to rest in our relationship with God, but more specifically,  in times of busy-ness and times of discouragement.

          Usually, there is an apathy that accompanies our busy-ness, whether it be in ministry or self.  Being busy in the ministry is, of course needful, but at the same time, it is needful to rest in the knowledge that God will grow a ministry or work through a ministry, in His time and according to His will.  Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to get the results in ministry that we think should be there.  In our thinking, when that doesn't happen,  we logically conclude that we have to do more, because obviously what we're doing isn't enough, instead of resting in the truth that God is sovereign.  Always has been, still is, and always will be.  We are commanded to be good and faithful stewards,  however, being busy can sort of blind us from resting and to "be still and know".  We are only human and have to remember that our bodies need rest and replenishment. But much more important than that is to rest in the sovereignty of Almighty God, to do what He will, in His time, and being led by Him. Too much activity, or "do, do" as Oswald Chambers said,  can and eventually will burn us out.  In Exodus 18 and specifically verses 17-23, Jethro advises his son in law to not do so much.  The context is that Moses was trying to be a mediator between the people and God, but the point is that he placed too much responsibility on himself.  Verse 18 is probably a key verse for this context.  Jethro tells Moses, "Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone."  God is sovereign over the results of a ministry and also will guide and lead in the amount of activity.   To rest in the sovereignty of God also assures to prevent burning out (otherwise we won't be of use to God).

           It is also human nature to think we need to better our lives.  It's human nature to create our own happiness in life, mainly by doing what our flesh enjoys.  Wherever a believer is in this life is right where the Lord wants them, whether it is fully surrendered over to God or in a season of backsliding.   God is still sovereign regardless of what we may think about ourselves, lives, or our current state.   Resting in the sovereignty of God brings with it an inexplicable peace and comfort.    The Lord is sovereign over the timing of everything in the believers life. 

            In 2 Corinthians 4:8, Paul says that "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;". 

           The passage that comes to mind is in Acts 16 where Paul and Silas are wrongfully imprisoned.   Their circumstances were, quite literally,  discouraging, both physically and mentally, I'm sure.  Verse 25 states that they were singing praise to God, and praying, at midnight, (probably a time when, physiologically and mentally,  they would be the weakest.)  In other words, these men were resting in God's sovereignty, giving them an inexplicable peace and comfort.   It's definitely hard to imagine that situation,  but no situation is dire enough for the Lord. 

         The Psalmist said "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Unity in the bond of Peace

Christians can so easily get caught up in the work of the ministry.  Of course there is tons of work to do, but is it right to disregard our testimony to others?
This reminds me of the one another verses throughout the Bible: Receive one another as in Romans 15:7, Admonish one another as in Romans 15:14 and Colossians 3:16 and Submit yourselves one to another as in Ephesians 5:21and I Peter 5:6.  In the midst of all the work of the ministry, it is needful to be reminded of these verses, often. The church is also God's program for this age of Grace, but there seems to be less and less interest in learning what the Bible says or even serving God. 

In Romans 15, God commands us to receive one another.  This is similar to the idea of receiving a gift from someone.   I remember as a kid at Christmas time that I got gifts that I didn't want or like, but because of who it was from, I had to teach myself to receive that gift with thanksgiving.   Everyone that is called by God, whatever role it is, needs to be received (and will always be received by God) or need to receive others.  In other words, all Christians need to receive there fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, disregarding the role in which we are called to serve, either a pastor to the congregants or the congregants to a pastor.

Later on in the same chapter, there is a command to admonish.a. There is a LOT of work LOT that goes into the ministry, both physical activity and spiritual exercises.  The Greek word for admonish is to warn and no one likes to be warned of potential dangers.  It is usually taken as very critical, however, if Biblical, very necessary.  Romans 15:14 speaks of admonishing one another, but Colossians 3:16 is a little more detailed.  God exhorts us to admonish every man, in all wisdom (consistent with Col. 1:28).  Of course, God's Word is where wisdom is found and, specifically,  the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all  wisdom.   Back to Romans 15, which seems to indicate that all  believers are able to admonish a brother or sister, not just dependant on a believers role in ministry.

Lastly,  believers are commanded to submit.  This is hard for anyone, not just believers.   Yes, we are told to submit to others, but when caught up in the work of the ministry,  we want things to be done "our" way.  The busier we are, it seems the more blinded we are of the bigger picture, which of course, is leading to, and teaching others more of, Christ.  Ephesians 5:21 is a powerful verse and reminds us to submit one to another, regardless of our ministry role, in the fear of God.  As was mentioned earlier,  the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, all wisdom.  The Lord will gives us wisfom, even when submitting. Because ultimately,  it is God we are to submit to. 

There is another command found in Ephesians,  the command to endeavor or strive to keep unity.  There is so much involved with keeping unity among believers, especially when working in ministry.  Sometimes Christians overlook some areas of life in order for unity, but  when God's word is in question in a situation, of course we should obey God's Word. For life issues in the lives of our brothers and sisters,  unity is of prime importance.  God has a reason for brothers and sister to strive for peaceful unions.  According to this verse, with peace comes unity and to become a disunity because of life issues, disunity is also in disregard to all points previously mentioned.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Man's control or God's leading?

          Christians feel the need to look out for each other and, of course, rightly so.  There are times of struggle when other Christians supply temporary physical needs, like food or otherwise. 

          That often overlaps into other areas where a situation needs to be left for God to control, and He does.  For instance,  the time in someone's life when God brings someone along side.  This person may or may not be the lifelong partner God has for them, but only God knows that and will point that out, in His time. 

           Christians give the impression that they need to be in control, in almost every area of life and, even though this may not be there intent, it can clearly be represented by the way we talk, especially when stating things like " I'm going to drill this person to make sure they're the right one for him/her." or blatant untrust in Christ as seen in statements like "I don't like this and they need to break up."   Christians may feel like they are just giving advice or having a friendly discussion,  however all too often Christians who think they are better than other Christians, most often and perhaps because they may have more experience in a certain situation, very easily can give the impression of wanting to control that part of someone else's life.  God will work it out and point out the necessary issues of contention in a situation, but GOD will do that, and in His time.  Very often when 2 Christians court, neither of them really make it known at first, most likely because they know everyone else will try to tell them how the Holy Spirit will lead them along, and it comes across as they'll know the Lord's leading "only when they do what me and my husband/wife did", instead of trusting and letting God work in the situation.

         Another situation where control is easily perceived is in ministry.   There is definitely a lot of work that needs to be done in ministry, but it is GOD that controls the growth and also the amount of activity.  So, how do you know how much activity there should be?   Of course, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, but in addition to that, people have limitations and their own personal convictions regarding ministry.  On one hand, some Christians want to always be serving the Lord, in as many different ways as possible and on the other hand, some Christians only serve in a few different ways, and focus on being faithful in that few. At this point,  it's a matter of interpretation of being faithful in 1 Corinthians 4:2.  The control becomes apparent when the one of these Christian seeks to regulate the other Christian's service.

         More specifically, in Ephesians 4:11-12 describes some of the different ministry roles that God calls believers to.  Pastors, teachers, laborers, and edification.  Not every believer is a teacher, or pastor, or can edify, or is a laborer.  Should believers simply assume that they, or another believer, possess all of these? The word "some" in the Greek, means just that.  God gave some to be teachers, preachers, laborers,  etc.

          I know a dear brother in Christ that was very much the edification role.  He was easy to talk to and gave Godly advice and would also put an arm around you quite often.  However, he was not really of the laborer role.  God had revealed to him that he could and is a great person for the edification of the saints. 

          Of course there are many other areas of ministry and service that believers are called to, but not all believers are called to a certain ministry and not every believer is called to fill all the roles found in the Scriptures.   There is balance in the Scriptures, which needs to be emulated in the Body of Christ. 


Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Heart of Legalism

          Why are so many Christians legalistic?  As far as I can tell, legalism is only legalism when it involves convictions and christian liberty.  Of course there are things in the Bible where there are clear distinctions, however, it seems that most cases of Christian legalism is in regards to Christians having such strong PERSONAL convictions that, in their mind, it's wrong for anyone to participate in that "sin". 

A more simplistic definition that I came up with for the differences between legalism and sin:

SIN:  When a person violates a clear new testament command in the Bible, OR violates his or her conscience.

LEGALISM:  When a person is offended by another's actions, thinking it is sin and trying to convince the offensive Christian that they are in sin, which may  have been decidely made a sin for in the life of the offended.

           It also may come across as legalistic, not because the person intends to be legalistic, but they may not be sure how to express that it's their conviction. 
          The  easiest way to make this point is by way of illustration.  According to the Bible,  it is very convincing that it is wrong to have babies and live together out of wedlock. Though the Bible does not specifically state this, the doctrine of separation clearly and strongly supports this conviction, there are many, many unsaved couples that choose to live together and also have children, without being married.  For some Christians, that's hard to fathom and it's clear that these couples are living in sin and therefore they try to convince unbelievers of their "sin".  This is a clear example of legalism because the Christian is trying to force unbelievers to do something that does not bother them nor does it make sense to them. To the unbelievers, it's cheaper and there are some real and immediate benefits.  Not to mention that unbelievers do not have a relationship with Christ.
           Christians act similarly towards one another, however the difference is that all parties have a relationship with Christ.   There are still many cases where Christian liberty is just that.....liberty to do what you want without offending God, or self. The doctrine of separation is layed out in scripture and one principle of this doctrine is to avoid all things that may have a negative impact on your spiritual growth.  There are some things that have that effect on some Christians and those same things may not have the same effect on others.  For instance: watching television may be wrong to some christians because it is an obvious floodgate to laziness and complacency and therefore a sin for them.  We'll call them Christian A.  On the other hand, there is a young Christian family where there are 6 children, all of which are being homeschooled, and this family may see watching television as giving the mother a little bit of a break and they may even monitor how much television is allowed.  Maybe only allow the kids to watch Christian animations or other harmless cartoons. We'll call them Christian B.  Christian A rightly sees television in there lives as a sin for them because they are aware of the potential detriment of it.  Also, of course the Bible warns of letting evil in through the eye gates and ear gates.  It is also a sin because this Christian would be violating their conscious if they did watch television.   For these reasons, they may be led to warn Christian B of these detriments.  Christian B has completely opposite views of television and sees it as a break for the mother, and maybe the kids too, and also has no issues with letting their kids watch selected material.  This is where legalism is a very clear case.  Christian A feels very strongly about Christian B watching TV and tries to convince them of their "sin", but the Bible does not specifically state anything about television, and most certainly couldn't have because it was not even a thought to be invented. 
           The point of all this is simple.  Do our personal convictions have such control over us that we need to make others abide by OUR convictions instead of trusting that they are at peace with God? Certainly, if we feel led to talk to them, as a concerned friend, we should.  But to become legalistic could start to push people away and ruin the fellowship we have with that brother or sister in Christ.  Convictions help us to stay in line with Christ, but our convictions......are just ours.
            This reminds me of the one another verses. Receive one another as in Romans 15:7; Admonish one another as in Romans 15:14 and Colossians 3:16; Submit yourselves one to another as in Ephesians 5:21 and I Peter 5:5 and having compassion one of another and being tenderhearted as in I Peter 3:8 and Ephesians 4:32. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Never say these things to a single person.

1.  “Well maybe you should work on your relationship with God. How can you have a girlfriend if you’re not fully satisfied in Him?”
--Yeah, because everyone in a relationship has it all completely right and all fully satisfied in God.
And yes, this is a very good time to work on your relationship with God, but there are some things that a spiritual relationship just doesn not provide.
2. "Just keep praying about it"
--More prayer won't bring a woman into my life any sooner, and of course I pray, every day.
3. "Study/read the Bible more"
-Every person needs to hear this, however there comes a point when EVERY activity being done alone, is depressing.  Alone time in the word should always be treasured, in addition to that, reading and praying with someone is something singles miss out on....and yes, I try to read more, but same as above.
4. "It'll happen quick, when it happens"
-This is probably my favorite.  Relationships,  any relationship, takes time.  I know that there are people that have courted and got married in less than a year, but don't remind me of that, it's the LAST thing I want to hear.
5. "Well, when I met my husband/wife..."
-REALLY!?  Your going to use this time to rub it in and, once again, remind me of what I'm missing.
6.  "You must like your alone time"
-Simply put, NO.  Stop reminding me that I have a ton of alone time.
7. 'Why don't you go out and meet people? "
-OK so, are you saying I don't socialize?  There's A LOT more to this than just socializing, and I do.
8. "So and so had to wait until they were this age"
-Are you saying I have to wait until I'm that old?  I realize I might have to, but PLEASE don't remind me of that. 
9. "Your standards are too high"
-So.......there's no woman out there for me? Are you saying lower your standards? I think it's obvious why this one is confusing.
10. "She'll come along when you least expect it."
-First of all, it's hard to be single and to not be aware, to some degree, of every woman that comes into my  life, even just the acquaintances,  (Never knowing how God will work exactly. ...) Secondly,  relationships don't just fall into your lap.  I know they take time, so don't lie and tell me that it'll be unexpected and sudden.
11. "How are you going to meet a lady if you dont to a singles ministry/bible study?"
-So if I meet my future wife outside of bible study, than it's not a legitimate relationship?  I'm just totally confused by this.  Did YOU meet your wife/husband at a bible study?   I'm willing to guess that only about 1% of married Christians met their spouse at a bible study or church.
         So what DO you say to a single person?   Ask them about......THEM, not there status or something you know willdon't go depress them, but perhaps what God's been teaching them.  I know a lot of marrieds and couples that complain because this single person doesn't talk to them or seems distant.  It could be that whenever they talk to a married person or couple, they seem to only know how to remind them of their loneliness and single status.   In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul says to take heed lest ye become a stumblingblock.  The reason a single person may not talk to marrieds may be that the marrieds or couples are causing them to stumble into depression.  Of course this isn't the intention of the couple, but it's just the fact of how you could be talking about this in a completely innocent way (and even the single person may seem fine on the outside), but most often, that person is feeling heart wrench all over again. 

         This is a simply a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the thinking of some single people, most likely guys, but women too I'm sure.