<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d16790134\x26blogName\x3dVoice+of+Vision\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://voiceofvision.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://voiceofvision.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d4634939867199867858', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Friday, February 27, 2009

I BELIEVE

People have a lot to say about and who they think Jesus is and what His coming into the world means, but the authority on the matter is the Bible.

I BELIEVE IN…I BELIEVE JESUS IS…

Light (John 1:9, 3:19, 8:12, 11:27, 12:46 / Philippians 2:15 / Matthew 5:16)

Promise (Genesis 3:15 / Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, 11:2 / Micah 5:2 / Romans 1:1-4 / Galatians 4:4)

Righteousness (Romans 3:25-26 / 2 Corinthians 5:21 / 2 Peter 1:1 / 1 John 2:1)

Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30 / Colossians 2:3)

Mercy (Matthew 9:27 / Mark 5:19 / Luke 1:50 / Ephesians 2:4-10)

Love (John 3:16 / 1 John 4:10-11 / John 15:13 / Romans 8:35-39)

Joy (Luke 2:10 / John 15:11, 17:13 / Hebrews 1:9)

Peace (Luke 2:14 / Mark 4:39 / John 14:27, 16:33 / Acts 10:36 / Romans 5:1 / Ephesians 2:14)

Hope (Romans 15:12-13 / Ephesians 1:12, 2:12 / Colossians 1:27 / 1 Timothy 1:1)

Grace (John 1:14 / Acts 15:11 / Romans 5:15)

Truth (John 1:14, 14:6)

Purity (1 John 3:2-3)

Revelation (John 1:18 / Matthew 1:23 / John 10:30 / Hebrews 1:3)

God the Son (John 1:3, 14 / Philippians 2:5-11 / Colossians 1:15-19 / Revelation 1:8)

Forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7)

Redemption (Romans 3:24, 8:23)

Resurrection (John 11:25 / Acts 24:15)

The Vine (John 15:5) a lifeline (Galatians 5:22-23 / Colossians 1:10)

Salvation (Matthew 1:21 / 1 Timothy 1:15)

Investment (Ephesians 1:3-14 / 1 Peter 1:3-9).

He invested in you, made you valuable, worth something to God. God gave His greatest, most precious and valuable thing, His Son as the asset, invested in you, with the Spirit as the down payment. The return on that investment was not a risk, it was a guaranteed harvest. I believe in your dream, because I believe in His reality. I believe in God’s investment.

What came into the world? It was and is something to believe in, and something worth sharing.

I BELIEVE! The question is, do you believe?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Scrambled Eggs-egesis

And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.
(2 Peter 2:3 – ESV)

Some “prophetic words of the Lord” have supposedly validating verses liberally sprinkled around ideas that the so-called “prophet” wants to implant in the people’s minds. The verses are ripped out of their context and seem to add blessing to the other pronouncements. They will pull some verse out and then define that blessing according to their new idea of it. What we will do in this post is to highlight in red the key phrases, and then we will speak briefly about the diversion, distortion, and deception being masked in blue.

It starts with a buildup of anticipation, with phrases such as “when the anointing is on you, when you understand the anointing, when you operate in the anointing, when you understand the worth of the anointing”, etc.

You can make this out to be anything you want, it is very vague. Of course, the prophet knows all about it and what he is about to tell you, so you had better listen up and “align” with it.

God Almighty is preparing a generation – it will rival what took place in the Great Reformation. You are the sons of the prophets. You are the seed of Abraham. Every blessing in the covenant to possess Heaven and Earth, to move in dominion, to move in increase, to move in the fullness of the Spirit – is yours.

“Dominion” is code language for the false belief that believers are supposed to take over the systems of the world before Jesus can come back. “Increase”, well, you get the idea there. This is over-realized eschatology in that he promises that we can have everything we will ever have right now. We can take charge of heaven and earth right now, every blessing to possess; wow, what a terrible torture of the textual truth. Of course, the dominion idea isn’t in the text at all.

"Holy Spirit of God, Holy Spirit of God, come right now – overshadow." Here it comes. Just let blanket you. Just let it soak you. Position yourself. Align yourself for that greater anointing.

Does this mean that we should be physically posturing ourselves at that very moment, as this prophetic word is being given? Just what does this prophet mean by "aligning yourself?” Probably he means we must agree with his words in order to be aligned with what God is doing.

The fullness of the Spirit, the fullness of Him who fills all in all; the anointing that breaks the yoke, not just in the meeting place but it will break the yoke in your home. It will break the yoke on your job. It will remove the curse from your destiny and from your career, from your vocation. It will remove the yoke from relationships that are draining you. It will bring deliverance.

He speaks of the fullness of the Spirit, and ties it to the notion of it being an “anointing” for temporal blessings, earlier he said the fullness of the Spirit was for dominion and increase, and so he defines this in ways that promise personal prosperity. It appears any kind of struggle or suffering will be relieved if you just line up with this new “anointing” that he tries to link with biblical teaching so as to validate it, but if this is that same “anointing” and fullness of the Spirit we see in the bible, why wasn’t this usage defined like this when it was originally written?

You are an heir. You are an heir of God. You are a joint heir with Christ. That double portion, that promise of the Father, the greatness of the call, the power of resurrection – we are about to embark on a season in which there will be such great difference between the light and the dark that you will be able to know, "These are the people that walk with God."

The promise of the Father was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all believers, first seen at Pentecost in Acts 2. It is not some special blessing for the super company who gets a double portion, more than anyone else gets because they are somehow special.

There is a great end-time visitation coming; it is almost upon us. I can hear the sound of an abundance of rain. God Almighty is grooming a company to move in power and practicality to reach the culture and to bring increase and expansion – the provision of God, more sufficient than any natural provision could ever be; the blessing of the Lord that makes rich and adds no sorrow. There is a new generation that is about to cross a line and cross a threshold and operate in a dimension.

This is pure pandering using triumphal language to believers who fail to discern. At least he then describes the threshold that they are crossing, and talks of the special dimension.

"They will go with Me on a journey to discover earmarks that are in the Spirit – places of lodging, places of power, places of deliverance, places of blessing. For in the heavenly realms, I have stored up treasures that when they go in, they will bind the strongman and reclaim the goods that he took from My people over these past generations.

What is going on when a supposed prophet uses modern day political language to give us an idea like “earmarks in the Spirit?” Aren’t earmarks bad things, like pork projects? Is that what this prophet is telling us, that we can expect God to bring home the bacon for us? As far as binding the strongman, this is terrible twisting of scripture, and time won’t permit us to go into it here, but suffice it to say that this idea had been refuted by reputable bible teachers time and again.

"There is coming a great shift. It is going to come globally on the Body of Christ and there is going to arise a company of people that will be delivered from their past and rescued for their future and they will operate in a double portion anointing that will stagger the minds of the unregenerate and they will walk in the wisdom and in the understanding and the knowledge of the Most High God.

He is talking about a great shift of material wealth; again, this is dominionism language. He believes this stuff and so out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. In this instance, great swelling words, I might add.

"And every place they go, they will transform the environment. They will bring blessing and they will leave blessing behind them. They will cause dark places to become light. They will cause brown places and barren places to become well-watered like a garden. They will cause broken places to be healed. They will cause sick places to be made well. "For they are the people of Jehovah and their vindication is from God. For there is coming a great vindication because of the great warfare. From the great warfare, there is coming great vindication and great blessing.

This is code for “Stick with us and it will pay off”.

"Rejoice, for your hour is coming and is now upon you when you will begin to see the goodness of God in the land of the living," saith the Lord.

He clearly defines the goodness of God as material blessing, and yes, a little spiritual stuff, but mostly triumphalism, personal power plays for your attention.

This man may talk much of God bringing home the bacon for us in the here and now, and this anointing breaking the yoke, but his prophetic words, twisted scriptures and unbiblical ideas all point to this being scrambled eggs-egesis.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

60 Seconds (33)

“COURAGE”

Athanasius (about 296 – 373) was one of the giants of Christian history because of his part in defining the Trinity. When he was told that everybody was denying the Deity of Christ, he said, “I, Athanasius, against the world.” Athanasius contra mundum became a proverbial expression.

As Joshua faced the task of leading God’s people in the Promised Land, he was admonished four times to “be strong and of good courage,” or “be strong and very courageous” (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9, and 18). “Courage” and “courageous” both mean “be steadfastly minded, strong.” Webster dictionary defines “courage” as “the attitude or response of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful, instead of withdrawing from it.” The late John Wayne stated, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

A slavery abolitionist of the 19th century, Wendell Phillips, made an interesting observation. He noted that it is easy to be brave when all are behind you and agree with you. In Genesis 6:9, it is recorded, “Noah walked with God.” This meant courage and independence, because no one else was walking that way. When a man walks with God, it means that he cannot walk with any of his fellows who are going in the opposite direction. Dr. Griffith–Thomas wrote, “What a splendid figure this man makes, a picture of solitary goodness! He was the one saint of his day. It is possible, therefore, to be good even though we have to stand alone.”

Someone declared, “Few things instill more courage than a good conscience toward God.” When John Knox was standing for his godly principles against Queen Mary, she demanded whether he thought it right that the authority of rulers should be resisted. His answer was, “If princes exceed their bounds, madam, they may be resisted and even deposed.”

In 2 Chronicles 32:7, Hezekiah, when facing the insurmountable odds of the wicked, was extorted to “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed.” The German pastor, Martin Niemoeller, broke ranks with other pastors and defiantly spoke out against the atrocities of Nazi-crazy Germany. He was arrested and placed in a concentration camp, being called, “Hitler’s personal prisoner.” For two years he was in solitary confinement. On various occasions he was offered his freedom – at a price. The price was to preach only as he was told. He steadfastly refused. A chaplain visited him in his detention, and asked Niemoeller, “Why are you here?” Dr. Niemoeller answered, “Why are you not here?”

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare” (Mark Twain).

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

www.davidarnoldonline.org

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Casting Out Demons?

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons;
(Mark 16:17 – ESV)

You don’t see Paul teaching Timothy or Titus how to cast out demons or how to teach others to do it. You don’t see it taught in the epistles of Paul, Peter, or John. You only see it demonstrated in the narratives of the gospels and the book of Acts. Surely, something of this seemingly important magnitude would be covered in more detail; it would be outlined in Ephesians 6:10-18, or 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, etc., if it were to be our standard operating procedure.

It isn’t.

Paul mentions to Timothy about people who are ensnared by the devil, but he tells Timothy not to go down the rabbit trails but to correct with the truth, hoping that God will give them repentance. He says that Timothy will have to be patient and endure the evil, not cast it out (2 Timothy 2:23-26). He was to engage the enemy behind the behavior by bringing the truth to the encounter. The power and authority of the Word IS the power and authority of the believer, it doesn’t require an exorcism. If this is not the case, and we are supposed to “take our authority” and cast out demons, then why is there such a lack of teaching in the scriptures about it?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, February 20, 2009

Service of the Stars

And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not…
(Jeremiah 45:5 – ESV)

One of the ironic problems pastors in small or growing churches face happens when they call the people in the pews to service. Some, instead of coming to the leadership and asking what needs to be done, take it on themselves to decide what needs to be done. Then they ask the leadership to put their stamp of approval on it, and more, to participate and sometimes to actually do the thing. It gets out of control, and ironically people are getting geared up but you want them to slow down. We want people to do something, and we already have an idea in mind, yet they don’t or won’t come to us, they feel like they have this big thing they want or they feel like the church needs to tackle, and then they expect us to sign on, and its out of order.

It would seem that when we surrender to the person of Jesus, then the idea is that we can now just do what we want as far as service is concerned. It is like those movie stars who get saved and then they justify in their minds that of course they should have a big ministry because they have a big platform, etc. We need to submit before we serve, we don’t just get to serve in whatever way we want. We submit and do what needs to be done and then we find what we are suited for. It is part of the process of being integrated into a community of faith. God will then allow us to be used “properly”, but first God wants us to be humble enough to admit that we aren’t right to have the mentality of, “if I decide to serve I get to do it my own way”. That isn’t service that is selfish.

Some know they aren’t movie stars but they want to be ministry stars. “If I could just find a church that would let me do my thing, then they would see.” No you need to see that you are completely out of order. It is hard to tell people these things however, because they will get offended and stop doing anything and give the old “I was just trying to help like you asked” but they are wrong. They may be sacrificing time or money or talent or whatever but they are not sacrificing their will, not really. What they are saying, in effect, is, “Okay I’ll serve but you still aren’t going to tell me what to do.”

The would be ministry star has these projects that they want to do, when what they need to do is all the ordinary boring stuff that they just won’t do. You will hear the retort in many different, subtle forms, “But I have been trying to do this for so long and someone else gets their thing before mine”. They won’t be faithful in a little thing and they expect to be promoted in their big thing. How many people do you know that have big talent and never move on? Why? This is why! You must be faithful with little things and in another person’s ministry before God will let you and let them promote your own.

Here’s my advice, just suck it up, and let it go. When you are satisfied in God, and content to NEVER be able to do that great big ministry you have in mind, then maybe, God will give it to you, but not before. God forbid that He does allow you to have it when you aren’t submitted, because if you get to do it before you are fashioned in submission then what is happening is that God is allowing that, your dream, to be the means of your downfall. I tell you the truth!

It’s not about some heavy handed “this is what you must do” thing it is simply a matter of perspective. Instead of coming and asking how can I help we state, “this is the way I want to help”, and “will you help me”. It is turned on its head; the church is asked to help the member with their mission instead of the member asking to help the church with its mission.

Service without submission can be well-intentioned, but will be ineffective, it is often professional, paternalistic, problem solving, and wanting to do good by “sharing” from a position of superiority. The Bible deliberately pushes us into the area of discomfort, forcing us to accept a posture of submission until our pride is exposed, and our desire to be controlling is revealed. Instead we have no control over our own lives and yet we want to and think we can fix others.

Like Baruch, we must learn that significance is not prominence. God is watching, and we need to be faithful to give Him glory in all we do, whatever that may be (Colossians 3:23). Be a shining star in the world He creates for you, not in the one you create for yourself.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sunstroke

I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
(Ecclesiastes 1:14)

The book of Ecclesiastes deals with man and his mental anguish at confronting the seeming lack of purpose to life. The author takes a comprehensive look into all sorts of lifestyles and worldviews, yet comes back, ultimately, to God. This journey is from a human, rather than divine point of view, and although there are human errors of judgment in it, it is inspired by the Holy Spirit as scripture. Not that the Bible is promoting error; what the Bible does is accurately reflect the point of view that is expounded.

Here it is the view of frustrated man, shown so as to give the ultimate lack of purpose for the humanist. It is a reasoned evaluation considering everything that can be known about the cosmos and of life from a point of view that isn’t truly considering God. The sole means of investigation into the meaning of life is to look “under the sun”, that is, to look at nothing beyond what one can see, investigate, or by appearances alone. This is the plight of those who would look to purely naturalistic explanations for everything.

This book has good in it, but it really is to be a contrast to a divine perspective, and to bring us closer to God, to show us that we cannot possibly find the answers no matter how much we learn apart from the Almighty. Even if scientists were to find their panacea, a unified theory, they still wouldn’t become the Creator whom made it so. Science is a window to the Divine but we stop at studying the window instead of looking through it to God. The window was placed there not simply to be looked at but also to be looked through.

Even those who aren’t scientists per se can get caught up into a “see it and believe it” mentality. Christians can get the idea that they should test God, and they “put out a fleece”, or bargain with God, or any number of other silly things. By assuming to everyday life the empiricism and inductive reasoning of the scientific method, a person may naturally develop an epistemological idolatry – experience becomes the sole god of revelation. If it can’t be tested, it can’t be trusted. We turn the knowledge of God into a scientific experiment. But if we need to know everything to know anything, then we know nothing – which is self-refuting.

Solomon tested everything under the sun, and found it lacking in eternal quality. Vexation of spirit is a term that is used throughout the book, and it basically means a grasping at the wind. That is what trying to discover the meaning of life is apart from God, for it is He who gives life, sustains it, and is the ultimate cause and purpose for it. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. To know God is to know life, and to know your purpose. You can try everything under the sun, but all you will do is get sunstroke, and remain thirsty. However, he who hungers and thirsts after righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Child Can Understand It



“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: ,

Monday, February 16, 2009

Good Pastoring

And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
(Jeremiah 3:15 – ESV)

Here is an example I read that I thought was a good look into some of the things a good pastor will have to do. I can testify to having to go through these types of things personally, although this is not my personal story.

The goal must always be to restore out of love, but sometimes love will inflict wounds, like a surgeon in order to bring the cure.

I once had a couple come in for pre marriage counseling. I found out that he was in the process of a divorce, and asked him why his first marriage failed, and found out that he had left his wife for the woman he was with. I said to him “In the Name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you for your adultery, and I call on you to repent and go back to your wife and beg her forgiveness” Then I looked at the woman and said “You are an adulterer, and you need to repent of that and leave this man alone, he is married to another and in the Name of Jesus I am telling you to leave him now” I told them both to repent and get right with God, and to not return to our fellowship until they do repent. They were outraged at me. I didn’t let them respond at all, I just cut off the conversations, and showed them the door.

8 years later I got a letter from him, thanking me. He said he was so mad at how abrupt and harsh I was that he kept arguing with me in his thoughts, and the longer he argued with me in his imagination the more he knew I was right and that he was really arguing with God not me, so after a few months he went back to his wife, she forgave him, and they had two more kids. He had lost our address and phone number, so it took him all those years to find me and tell me it worked. He said if I had not been so abrupt and harsh he never would have come to terms with the sin he was in.

So we must be gentle with some, and others we must be firm with. It takes the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know how to deal with each situation.

Doing the right thing is often hard. No one likes confrontation or to get involved in other people’s problems. It is always easier to do nothing, to leave it for someone else to be the one who cares... but who said obedience to Christ is supposed to be easy.

I once had a woman come in and ask for money, she was desperate with two little kids. It was clear enough to me that she was a junkie, and needed a fix really bad, and I knew if I gave her money it would go straight into her arm. So I took her to a hotel that our church had a deal with, that I could put anyone in anytime and they would bill the church later, I set her up in a room with a kitchen and bought enough food for her and her kids for a few days, and then I gave her enough cash to get high for a few days. I waited until I saw her return from scoring some drugs, and then let an hour pass so I would know she would be really wasted, and then I called the police and reported child abuse neglect. I just put her in a room and did all that stuff so I could be sure where she would be so I could get her kids taken away from her. It broke my heart. I didn’t sleep well for a few nights. I was outright crafty and misleading but I saved two little kids.

3 years later she showed up at our church, with both of her kids. She said she was really mad at me for a long time but can look back now, and she knows that I not only saved her children’s lives but that I saved her life. She had been clean for 2 years, and came to Christ and had got her kids back, and had a good job. With tears in her eyes she thanked me, and told me that she had been to three churches before coming to ours and they all just turned her away. While she knew I had set her up, she had come to see that I set her up out of love.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No Pets Allowed

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
(Romans 16:17 – ESV)

Part of having a statement of faith and also going through a membership interview is to identify potential problems in theology and practice among people who might otherwise seem solid. Yes, everyone has issues that they need straightening out, but there are areas in which we could not allow fellowship inside the local body and participation in Communion and/or leadership activity if someone holds to different ideas than we do among the primary doctrines.

That is obvious, but it also filters down into areas where the potential might not seem so immediate, but would nevertheless be every bit as problematic over time. There could be issues in the areas of practical living that would come out during this process, such as living arrangements with a partner one isn’t married to, horoscopes and occult practices, racism, homosexual lifestyles, alcohol and drug use, and so on.

Some of these things wouldn’t limit fellowship, but they would be potential problem areas that would be better off if known and dealt with as appropriate from the start. These things might not surface until after several months in a local body, but could be catastrophic in their effect if left unchecked and only discovered as they start to destroy.

A prime example of this would be doctrines, books, ideas and practices we might label as “pets”; these would be things that the unsuspecting church might not be aware of that the candidate might try and propagate among the congregation. This type of activity is something which the leadership would not want to be happening.

Examples might be Sabbath Keeping and other Jewish observance as a somehow “superior” form of spirituality, heath and wealth and other false gospels, an insistence that the KJV is the only correct translation of the Bible, and the use and promotion of certain books and teachers as good sources of spiritual material which the church would not ascribe to and believe to be bad news.

Perhaps the most important example would be taking in persons who left their last church with an offense and want to air their dirty laundry out in a new setting. As a subset of that group, some just cannot fit in anywhere and jump from church to church because they do not want to be dealt with biblically.

It is a reflection of the biblical record and instruction and has been our experience over time that some people will try and enter a fellowship, having been involved with previous church bodies who would not let them exercise their brand of spirituality, and they are simply trying to find a local church body who will let them do things their own (unbiblical, anti-biblical or sub-biblical) way. To this we say no way, because it inevitably starts spreading, let alone the fact that it is wrong in the first place.

Some people come into a local church only looking to show off and defend their “pet” idea or practice, while others are simply hiding their lives, and still others may not even realize that they have unbiblical notions about everyday life that might be easily addressed during an interview or pastoral visit.

There is significant room for theological and practical disagreement among members of a local body, but the idea is that these things are not items and ideas that would necessarily wreak havoc, confusion, and dissension among the members, and bring disgrace to the name of God and pervert the gospel, whereas certain other things would, which is why the need to find these things out as much as possible beforehand. It makes for a more unified local body and leads to a happier and healthier congregation and for the individuals, including those who might be excluded by such a process.

If these persons are willing to repent, in other words change their lifestyle or agree that this or that idea is unbiblical or that this or that practice is not welcomed in our assembly and that they will disavow themselves of it, and not try and promote it, then they may come in. We can certainly tolerate differing views on eschatology, for example, but we cannot allow new people to come in and disrupt the flow of our fellowship with what we view are bad theology and practice.

What we are in effect saying is that while we welcome differing viewpoints, we must all agree that certain things cannot be countenanced, and that we will try and ascertain these potential problems before they might be allowed to be planted, for the good of the local body and the candidates as individuals. In any event they aren’t allowed to bring in their “pets”.

To give a specific example of how this might look, let us consider homosexual orientation and related issues. This clearly shows the importance of a formal process for church membership.

Whereas some things may not surface immediately, such as gossip or jealousy issues, this matter is integral to the person’s identity, it usually is known, and how it is dealt with upfront is important. Even if it is someone who isn’t a practicing homosexual, but they equate same sex relations and civil rights issues regarding race, we have a major problem.

Whereas race can be identified as a category of people, “gay” is more correctly identified as a type of behavior. Those engaging in such acts might be classified as to a category type, but nevertheless homosexual activity is not the same thing as race. We must never discriminate according to race; we must always be discerning about homosexuality. The Bible is quite clear on the issue.

In anticipating a possible counter-argument, we would say that a person who had an unbiblical divorce, but who would agree that they were wrong, and that the failure of the previous marriage was sin and they repent of that failure, that sin has been recognized and membership would not be denied. They would be appropriately disciplined if events such as those in the past arose again.

If a homosexual is confronted about their sin, and if they deny that it is sin, and they feel that they need no repentance for their actions, that is a different matter.

Conversely, if the homosexual repents of their sinful lifestyle and agrees to abstain then there is nothing to stop membership and full fellowship. At the very least there has to be an admission that the Word of God is true concerning homosexuality. Also, membership allows for discipline when people fall back into sin. One can be struggling with these or other issues, but they agree that the Word of God is true as to it being sin and against God’s will.

The difference is one of struggle, between admitting that it is sin and trying to deal with it, and openly denying that it is sin and continuing to practice it. While we can call practicing homosexuals friends, we cannot call them Christians. They can still attend so that the Word can act on their lives. They forfeit that privilege if they try to win others to their “pet” cause.

We cannot say that what God calls unholy is somehow holy. A practicing homosexual who has “prayed a prayer for salvation”, and says that they love God, but disagrees with His Word on the subject of homosexuality is living an unacceptable and unchristian lifestyle. The sincerity and sweetness of the particular individual does not negate the clear teaching of scripture.

As Christians, we are forgiven people, and as forgiven people we are to become forgiving people. Having said that, there is indeed a difference between a person who is struggling with sin, and one who defiantly remains in open rebellion, when confronted with scripture. Certainly there is a difference to one who is also trying to win others to their sinful cause.

Yes we would affirm that there are certain sins that are common that we could take to this level, but it would not be appropriate; there is a matter of degree. There are consequences that are matched to the damage to person or community. We cannot affirm that a person in such obvious, open rebellion against the Word of God is in right standing with Christ. It is not simply about someone who commits sins, but one who is living in it as a continual state. It would be similar to a couple living together unmarried, yet also compounded. A man who has temper issues is in a different situation than one who also acts out and attacks people.

As leaders we must take specific actions when specific behaviors are present. To do anything less is to compromise the truth and pollute the assembly. We cannot judge someone’s soul, but we can and must be diligent to keep poison from infecting the local body.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

60 Seconds (32)

“ANGER UNCONTROLLED”

Proverbs 14:17 states, “A quick-tempered person acts foolishly.” Gloria Owen of San Jose, California, said she had been looking for a parking space for 10 minutes one day, while taking her mother to a doctor’s visit. She finally spotted one, only to see Edna Gilliam zoom in just ahead of her. The two women got out of their cars. Ms. Gilliam said that Ms. Owens grabbed her sweater and threw her to the ground, hospitalizing Ms. Gilliam for six weeks. Ms. Owens pleaded no contest to battery, and was sentenced to three years probation. Ms. Owens was 68 and Ms. Gilliam was 88. This is a reminder of the Chinese proverb, “The torrid sun melts mountain snows. When anger comes, then wisdom goes.”

The Bible is clear that such anger is forbidden. James wrote, “The anger of man does not work the righteousness of God,” James 1:20. Paul commands us to put off “anger, malice, and slander,” Colossians 3:8. Cicero said that when anger entered into the scene, “nothing could be done rightly and nothing sensibly.” Seneca called anger “a brief insanity.” Proverbs 12:16 declares that anger is a quality of fools, and Ecclesiastes 7:9 confirms that, “Anger rests in the bosom of fools.”

Charles Buxton said, “Bad temper is its own scourge. Few things are bitterer than to feel bitter. A man’s venom poisons himself more than his victim.” The words “anger” and “angina” are related. People long ago noticed that chest pains often followed angry outbursts. Also, characters in Victorian novels, described as angry and red-faced, often suffered apoplexy, which we now call stroke. A study done by the Harvard Medical School revealed that for two hours after an angry outburst, some people’s risk of having a heart attack is doubled. Proverbs 27:3, “A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but a fool’s wrath is heavier that both of them.” Remember, “Temper, if ungoverned, governs the whole man.”

Proverbs 16:32 informs, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Grover Patterson reminded us, “When you restrain yourself from relieving your feelings at the expense of somebody else, when you restrain yourself from making somebody else unhappy for the satisfaction of speaking your mind, you prove that you have advanced out of the hair-trigger stage of prehistoric days.”

A woman spoke to Billy Sunday about her temper. She said it was bad, but that it was over in a minute. Billy Sunday replied, “So is a shot gun, but it blows everything to pieces!” “Keep raising the roof and people will think there is something wrong in your attic” (Franklin P. Jones).

James 1:19 “Let every man…be slow to wrath.”

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

www.davidarnoldonline.org

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels:

Monday, February 09, 2009

Oh No You Don’t!

But to the wicked God says: "What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?
(Psalm 50:16 – ESV)

Have you ever watched a program, or seen a conversation where someone who is an unbeliever nevertheless uses Jesus or the bible as an authority for what they say? It is tough when you watch them torture scripture or misrepresent the Christian message. Don’t you just hate it when they seem to get away with it, especially if you had an answer for them?

If unbelievers try and appeal to Jesus or say that you cannot do this or that because Jesus wasn’t like that, well, how would they know? “I’ve read the bible”, they will say. Sure. Anyway, 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us they cannot truly understand it unless they are submitted to it. You can only exercise authority to the extent you are under that authority. Unless they quote chapter and verse, correctly understanding the context, then their rants are just useless interference and pure speculation. Why are they using Jesus as if they knew Him? You don’t have to argue with them, just correct their misunderstandings with scripture.

If they don’t believe in Christianity, why would they care what Jesus said anyway? For them to use Him as a reference against His own is absurd. What’s more if they think they know how Jesus would react or do something and it isn’t how we would do it, then what is stopping them from becoming a Christian? Why would they not follow Christ if He were so good compared to us? If they like how Jesus does it shouldn’t they call themselves true Christians?

Well we as true Christians know that He is so good compared to us and we don’t always do what Jesus would do or even know what that would be. But we are following Him and learn from Him, unlike those who just want to use Jesus as some sort of opposition to His followers when they have no real clue what Christianity is all about anyway.

Don’t get mad at people like that; just correct their incorrect assertions with the correct scripture, and pray for them. This is just one more reason they will have absolutely no excuse at the judgment. Those that talk so loud now will say “Lord, Lord (and they will say Lord all right), it was your followers fault I didn’t believe in you.” He will say, “Were you following them or me?” “If you thought they were false compared to me then why didn’t you live like me as an example? But no, you followed your own ideas, and you didn’t love me, and you hated those that did love me, and you will now go where you wanted to be from the start, away from me, and away from those that love me, forever….”

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, February 06, 2009

Goats, Dogs, Pigs, and Sheep


So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
(James 4:17 – ESV)

Too often people want to know God's direction for their lives in certain areas, but they won't even look to do what He has already laid out in other areas. It seems that people want God to enter into something so that they can get out of something. They only want to do the minimum it takes to get the results they want. They submit only to the extent that it gives them pleasing possibilities. It isn’t a matter, usually, of attempting to be biblical, but struggling with it.

Now having said that, some are just not aware of what the biblical instruction or injunction is, and we cannot assume they do know what is right when they have never been doing it at all. Perhaps they just don’t know this or that thing we think is obvious, to them it isn’t. Therefore we must make them aware of the relevant biblical truth and instruction before we simply confine them to criminal status.

It is time to bring the scriptures to bear. Yes God knows your heart, and He uses His Word to reveal to you the condition of it (Hebrews 4:12).

Regarding sin in our lives; very often we cling to the worthless things that we think will deliver true satisfaction. This can be especially true with new believers who are getting used to living the new life. Of course, there are people who have been believers for some time who also struggle with this. We all do to an extent, but some of the major problems ought to be “cleaned up” sooner. It is a mindset that needs to be met with scripture, but too often we are afraid to talk about such obvious problems because we know we have problems too.

This does not change the truth that Christians should be changing, letting go of lying, cussing, stealing, and things that were normal to their old life. They may still struggle and we can struggle with them, but to think it is okay to stay in that sort of lifestyle pattern is more than just sin, it is rebellion that shows a lack of real repentance, and calls into question someone’s salvation. Again, someone who knows it is wrong, and says it is wrong, and wants to change it is different than someone who tries to justify “doing a little bad”. For example, they supposedly need to skip out on the rent in order to have the deposit for the next place and they think it is no problem.

Now it is true that your personal convictions do not bind someone else’s conscience. However, we do need to show people the clear teachings of scripture when they obviously think stealing or lying or a little racism or things like this are justifiable whenever they deem it right to do so. There are things people “hold onto” like horoscopes, for another example, things people need to be trained out of, and it might seem obvious to you, but it might not to them, especially if no one has ever confronted them with it.

Salvation is more than just a change of appetite, but it cannot be less than that. God’s sheep are led by the Good Shepherd. Goats simply go their own way and only turn when they are coerced or forced. As dogs, we return to our vomit, and as pigs, we love our mire, and even if we’re taken out and bathed, we hurry back in (2 Peter 2:22). But when God changes us from goats or dogs or pigs to sheep, so to speak, we are not as open to rebellion when led by the truth and we begin to see these disgusting things as they are. If we are still “butting back” against the truth, perhaps we still have horns.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Fresh Touch

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5 – ESV)

In this text we see that what happens in you is more important than what happens to you, that even when what happens to you seems bad God uses it for your spiritual good. Through Christ we have been justified by faith, forgiven by God, who has made a lasting peace with us and we can be at peace towards Him. Having been introduced to the grace of God we will stand forever righteous in His sight and can glory in the fact that we have a hope of eternal life in heaven with Him. We now have access to the grace of God and we know that the bad times produce good results, as we stay under God’s hand during the trial and testing it produces patience, which produces proven character, which produces hopeful confidence, which does not disappoint us because once again the Holy Spirit pours the love of God and love for God into our hearts afresh. We see the eternal hope of verse two made manifest as a timely hope in verse four.

This is that initial realization about us having been made at peace with God and having hope for eternity being brought into the temporal circumstances of today. This is the more than that the text speaks of. We know we are children of God in our heads but God brings it home to our hearts in the most trying of circumstances. This is how we once again know in our experience, and not just in our minds, that God is our Father, Jesus our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit our Comforter. This is made real again by a fresh touch of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is the difference between staying locked into the tragedy and shining forth in triumph; it is that in the midst of tragedy triumph can come forth in our character.

When the text says we rejoice in trials it doesn’t mean we should say, “Hooray, look at my scars, yes, I am so glad to have this open wound!” No, it means we can still rejoice in God because we know something. We can still exult in God, despite the trials, because we know that whatever happens, we are the children of God, with ultimate hope. We may not understand all of what is going on or all the reasons for our trials, especially when they are “not our fault”, but we can still be “knowing something” about how God is going to mold us into the image of Christ through these situations. The text says “knowing that”; we know something about what is going on. God is redeeming our suffering to His glory, and giving us a fresh touch of hope through the power of the Holy Spirit which we feel in our hearts. This is not theory; this is experience, our justification made sure in our hearts. Can you feel it?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

60 Seconds (31)

“CHURCH ETIQUETTE”

1. A prayerful attitude should be maintained (Matt. 21:13).
2. A cheerful countenance is an essential (Phil. 4:4).
3. The center of attention must be Christ (Col. 3:17).
4. Love must be shown without respect of persons (Jas.2:9).
5. Dress at church should be discreet and modest (1 Tim. 2:9).
6. Our conversation should be centered around God (Phil. 3:20).
7. Our church properties must be respected (Lev. 19:30).
8. Music should exalt the soul (Eph. 5:19).
9. Lyrics must be scriptural and meaningful (Col. 3:16).
10. Accompaniment music must be in the background (I Cor. 14:17).
11. Participants on the platform must be born-again, dressed appropriately and prayed up (Jas. 3:1).
12. Those exercising the gifts of the Spirit, or in prayer in the audience, must be blameless (1 Cor. 13:1).
13. Special honor should always be given to older people (1 Tim. 5:1,2).
14. Younger people must be in subjection and obedient (Eph. 6:1).
15. We must be subject to one another (1 Pet. 5:5).
16. We must make visitors feel welcome (Heb. 13:2).
17. We must emphasize the positive and minimize the negative (Phil. 4:8).
18. We should emphasize what the Bible emphasizes (Rev. 22:18-19).
19. The Word of God must be the focal point (2 Tim. 4:2).
20. Idle conversation and loitering has no place on church property (Lev. 26:2).
21. A strict “hands-off” policy must be maintained for the opposite sex (1 Cor.7:1).
22. Crying babies should be taken to the nursery (Prov. 19:18).
23. No one should leave while a service is in progress, except in case of emergency (1 Cor. 14:40)
24. We should be on time (Acts 3:1).
25. No one should move in a service, except at the conclusion of a prayer, a song, a sermon, etc. (1 Cor.14:33).
26. Those having to leave the building for any reason should sit toward the back when returning (1 Pet. 3:8).
27. The ends of the pews/chairs should be left empty for late comers when a large crowd is expected (Mark 2:2).
28. Back pews/chairs are for parents with active small children, visitors, and a few of the personal workers (Mark 6:39).
29. Young people, and others who need to obtain the very most from the services, should sit, when possible, towards the front of the church (Luke 5:1).
30. Families should often sit together (Ex. 20:12).
31. Youth without parents should befriend older people of the church and sit with them (1 Tim. 5:1).
32. Older people should take special interest in “lonely” young people (Matt. 18:5).
33. Homes should be open to allow young people to fellowship after church (1 Peter 4:9).
34. Older people should not force traditions and customs on younger people (Matt. 15:9).
35. Younger people should respect older people’s traditions and customs (Romans 14:15).
36. Older people must give basic principles to younger people (Matt.23:24).
37. Younger people should listen with respect to those who have had experience (Prov.22:17).
38. Any church-sponsored outing must be well-chaperoned, wholesome, and always concluded with a brief devotional time (Mk. 6:31).
39. Dress on outings should be modest and sensible (Phil 4:5).
40. People with no children, or who have severe problems at home with their children, should speak rather softly in teaching others how to raise children (Jas. 1:19).
41. People with small children should not have an unusually critical attitude towards parents with teenagers (1 Tim. 1:7).
42. People who have apparently succeeded in raising their children in the right way should wait until their children’s lives are finished before mentioning their success too much (Prov. 22:6).
43. We must not prohibit their attendance, or show anything but love, to people who may be dressed inappropriately, or who may be of another race or social status (Jas. 2:1).
44. Members of the church, anyone in leadership, or those in singing or other platform groups, should definitely have higher standards of moral and dress codes, and have a good report in their church and community (Matt. 15:14).
45. Elite groups that feel they are better than others because of special talents, gifts, cliques, or groups that feel they are more spiritual than others, have no place in church life (1 Cor.3:3).
46. Griping is never tolerated. Constructive and loving suggestions are appreciated (Jas. 3:9).
47. Pastors should feed the flock of God with the Word of God, in love, and be an example of helping in every way, including having control of their homes (1 Pet. 5:2).
48. Obedience to the Word they preach, and high esteem because of their calling and works, should be given to the Pastor and church staff (1Thess. 5:12-13).

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

www.davidarnoldonline.org

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels:

Monday, February 02, 2009

Let the Good Times Roll!

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18-21 – ESV)

Now this text doesn’t mean you can only be filled with the Spirit while you are inside of the church building or at some church function. We are to be filled in our everyday lives. This text is simply telling us that we need to be plugged into a local body of believers and doing the speaking, singing, sanctifying, and submitting in that context, and then we can expect to be filled with the Spirit in other situations we live in as well.

Is your time being given to being filled with the Spirit? That is the proper pursuit, whether it be in the context of church, home, work, recreation, service, friends, or whatever and whenever and wherever you may be, you can keep being filled with the Spirit. Diligently seeking, that is how to let the good times roll. Otherwise we are just drunk on the devil’s plan.

If you find yourself going after God’s plan, you will find things working out right more often than not, and even when things seemingly go wrong, you will have a different perspective about them, and you can be filled with the Spirit through them, and actually learn something so it wasn’t all a big waste. As good as things could be, that is how good they can be, even in bad situations because you are FILLED with the Spirit!

God wants you to be filled with the Spirit and live the Spirit filled life in any and all the endeavors of your daily existence. We are not talking about staying in a closet or being some kind of monk, we are talking about living your life to the glory of God. The way to be refreshed in life is to keep being filled with the Spirit. To not do that is to take God’s Word and commands and hold them in contempt, and God opposes the proud, remember?

Regardless of what is happening on earth, and in your life, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Information is increasing, technology is advancing, civility is declining, and persecution is coming, but God’s truth is as true as it ever was and will always be. Same old sin, the same old humanity, and the same old need for Jesus. But the word of the Lord remains forever. “And this word is the good news that was preached to you" (1 Peter 1:25). No matter what the change the power of God remains. Our constant hope is that God is God, and He demands that we pursue being filled with the Spirit.

Again, speaking, singing, sanctifying, and submitting in the context of community. This is being in God’s will and how we can be developing a Spirit filled life. That will bring the light of Christ to our situations no matter how they appear to the rest of the world. Believe me, in these coming dark days God will still be calling people into His marvelous light. The question is, will you be consumed with the darkness, or will you let your light shine? Are you going to be filled with fear, or filled with the Spirit? It is high time to let the good times roll!

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Labels: , , , ,