Archive for October, 2018

VerseD: Romans 12:21

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21, ESV

How many ways can it be said?

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Love your enemies.

If your brother sins against you, forgive him.

VerseD: 2 Corinthians 5:7

for we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV

With all that we see is wrong in this world, it can be easy to lose hope.

But we walk in the faith that Christ has promised to return and take us to be with Him forever.

VerseD: 1 Peter 4:8

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8 ESV

Christ’s love literally covers our sins.

We can love others enough to see past their sins and see the image of God within them.

VerseD: 1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19, ESV

Everything we do should come out of the knowledge that God loves us, as so beautifully and horribly demonstrated through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Our desire should be to live that way because He did and does.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – My Hymns & Songs – 10/28/2018 – Well and Great

We continue looking at hymns and songs that impacted my spiritual life – with yet another reminder to check out the other blog I contribute to, ProverbialThought.com, and the daily thoughts on the Bible (specifically Proverbs) – with another song (that flows out of last week’s hymns.)

How Great Thou Art

Lyrics

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Refrain:
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:
(Repeat Refrain.)

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:
(Repeat Refrain.)

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!
(Repeat Refrain.)

It Is Well with My Soul

Lyrics

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul!”

Refrain:
It is well with my soul!
It is well, it is well with my soul!

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
(Repeat refrain)

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought—
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to His Cross, and I bear it no more;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
(Repeat refrain)

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live;
If dark hours about me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
(Repeat refrain)

A Few Thoughts …

On April 1, 2014, of all days (April Fools’ Day), my mom was diagnosed with terminal Stage-4 Lung Cancer (she succumbed a mere four months and eleven days later). I got the call while driving from work to class at the seminary. The first student to preach in class that day also happened to offer the opening prayer for class with a singing of the hymn “How Great Thou Art”.

It was exactly what I needed. To worship the One in control who took my mom home to be with Him. It is this knowledge – that God is all-powerful, sovereign, loving, and saved us through His Son – that frees me to then turn around in any circumstance, including seeing my mom die of cancer, and sing “It is well with my soul.”

The false god Baal and Elections

My mom, Jeanne, who is one of the wisest people I know, said regarding the topic of abortion “Women have THREE choices: Abstinence, Birth-control, and Adoption. But they don’t have the right to murder babies.”

Baal was one of the Canaanite gods, and is mentioned in the Bible as a false god. In fact, the priests of Baal used magician type tricks to make people believe that Baal was real. The name “Baal” means “owner” or “master,” and the ancient worship of Baal involved the horrendous practice of infant sacrifice.

What modern people fail to see is that the so-called “pro-choice” sect clamors that it’s “my body, my choice,” claiming to be the owner or master of the life that is inside of them. They do this to try to excuse the fact that they are essentially committing infant sacrifice unto themselves, but thereby are claiming to be the so-called god of Baal. This world-view should scare the crap out of everyone.

Fact: As of 2017, over 57,000,000 people have been murdered by abortion. That’s 1/3 of generation X.

Fact: Less than 1% of abortions are performed to save the life of the mother.

Fact: As Christians, God calls us to stand up for the innocent and helpless, and that necessitates voting for whichever candidate is the most pro-life.

#voteprolife

About Jesse Walker

VerseD: Luke 6:27-28

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Luke 6:27‭-‬28, ESV

Vengeance belongs to the Lord. Also, it is easier to share the gospel with others when they see us loving those who mistreat us.

VerseD: Ephesians 4:1-3

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1‭-‬3, ESV

We are called to be peacemakers, disciples if Christ, and brothers and sisters … who love each other!

VerseD: 1 Peter 5:7

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7, ESV

We struggle sometimes (or, for some, all the time) in this life. Let the One who created and then died for you bear that burden.

It may not go away, but it just might feel lighter to you as He lifts it onto His shoulders and walks with you.

What kind of Pastor are you? Church Politics 101

My intention in writing this is to enlighten, and not to harm, though it may hurt…because the truth hurts. As I ask many times in my articles, if you are going to read this, please commit to reading it in its entirety, because there will be some difficult points and thoughts to ponder, but if you let the Lord speak to you, the conclusion will be worth it.

I have always been somewhat of a reluctant leader…leading by necessity and calling rather than desire. Because the church “leadership” failed in many ways to help me grow, I found early on that I had to lead myself first, and then offer to others that which the leadership failed to give me. God used the situation for good, but the battle has been hard fought.

The leadership failed for two primary reasons: First, what I needed, they didn’t have. Second, if they did have it to give, they gave just enough, dangling it like a carrot to keep me coming back, but never was I filled. They kept giving me fish when I desperately wanted to know how to fish. The first was a failure of preparation, the second was a power play. They didn’t want to help me grow into the person God was calling me to be, at least not fully, because they were comfortable being the spiritual ones in charge. This is not simply my perspective, I had objective observers tell me these things before I ever vocalized them. It was a bittersweet confirmation of what I already knew.

This emphasized the fact that the church organization has a hierarchical structure, even if you are part of an independent, non-denominational church. The church organization has defaulted, and continues to default to a hierarchy of established people and expected norms. This is the nitty gritty of what is known as “church politics.” Of course, when one looks at actual politics it is quite clear that, whether you like it or not, there was a political revolution in the presidential election of 2016. The “establishment” politicians were overthrown and kicked out.

The church has an “establishment” too, and if you are one, you should desperately check your life and be sure you get on the right track with the Lord, because it is only a matter of time before He rectifies things. You don’t want to be included in the “church establishment” because these people will eventually be kicked out as well.

(I will be using leadership and establishment interchangeably in this article)

Here are some points to help you determine if you are part of the church establishment, the primary causes of which come from “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (the pride in position and possessions).” 1 John 2:16

  1. Manipulation – Do you help people grow to the point where they don’t need you anymore? If you help them grow a little, but not as much as you actually can, you are probably doing it so they remain dependent upon you for spiritual guidance. This protects your position as a leader, because the underlying motive is that they not reach the spiritual summit that you assess yourself to have reached, for fear they may become closer to Jesus and/or more popular with the masses than you, thereby eclipsing the position you have attained. Be careful because this is a form of manipulation for the purpose of maintaining control and power. Are you manipulating people by holding them back from being the person they can truly be in the Lord?
  2. Greed – This goes hand in hand with the first point. Remember that old adage “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”? The church establishment gives people fish every Sunday to keep them coming back. They neglect to teach people how to fish so they can grow on their own, in order to keep butts in the pews and tithes in the purse. Are you allowing money to keep you from doing what’s right?
  3. Power – The church establishment is destined to fail because they were never supposed to be “in power” in the first place. Christ is the head of the church and all authority has been given to Him. How often do you hear a message on how to hear the voice of God? Not very often, because the establishment thinks that “lay people” aren’t learned or responsible enough to understand such deep, intimacy with the Father, that should be left to those who have a theological degree. That is an elitist mentality that protects its’ own. The fact is, shortly after Moses, the Exodus, and the promised land (which foreshadow Jesus and his mission of leading us out of the bondage of sin and into the promise of His Spirit), comes a book which I am convinced is a foreshadow of Christ and the church – the book of Judges. In this book God speaks to, and employs those He chooses at any given time for any given purpose. Subsequently, the people want an established human leader but God wants to lead them Himself, and speak to them personally. As many of you know, the Lord eventually gives the people what they want in the form of King Saul, but it was not God’s original, perfect will for them. His original will was essentially a Theocracy – a nation led by the Lord Himself. This is why Jesus said “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.” By these verses it is clear that the Lord does not want hierarchy of power within the church, because that simply leads to an elitist mentality. He should be on the throne of every heart. Are you usurping Gods’ perfect will? Do you have an elitist mentality when it comes to ministry and the things of God?
  4. Jealousy – I know of a pastor (we’ll call him John) who has had the call of God on his life for ministry from the time he was a teenager. Johns’ goal has always been to help people grow so much, and get so close to Jesus, that they don’t need John anymore. However, other pastors and leaders have been jealous of the gifts and anointing that the Lord has placed on Johns’ life, and they feel threatened by Johns’ Biblical knowledge, youthful zeal, purity of heart and maturity in the Lord. They are secretly afraid that John will take their job because he is more qualified both in the eyes of man and in the eyes of God. Because of their jealousy and fears, they have held him back from accomplishing the call of God and operating in his giftings. Their actions have deeply wounded John because these pastors and leaders are people who should know better. They should put their pride aside and, at the very least, allow the Lord to work through John in his giftings. However, an even better, more mature response would be for them to help John in ministry in whatever way they can so that the church may thrive. To make things worse it hasn’t been just one church or pastor that has felt this way and done this to John, the majority of pastors John has worked with over the years have responded out of jealousy and fear. The only consolation is that John is in good company, because the religious leaders of the day treated Jesus the same way. Of whom are you jealous? Who do you feel threatens your position in ministry?
  5. Bias – Singles are treated as second-class citizens of ministry (See the article “Church and Singles“). Do you have a biblical view of singleness and marriage?
  6. Favoritism – I have a friend who is a fellow minister and who is intimately familiar with church methods for obtaining staff and guest speakers. As a pastor and speaker myself, I was refreshed yet deeply saddened by a comment he made. Refreshed because he was unabashedly honest, and saddened because it is unfortunately true. He said nobody cares if you have a great message, they only care if you have a big name and can draw a crowd. Unfortunately, the ways of the world creep into the church. Whereas God looks at the heart, man looks at the outward appearance. If one doesn’t fit the mold that the establishment thinks one should fit (the way one looks, dresses, talks, yes, sometimes even what one drives), or if one doesn’t have a big name that can bring big bucks, they are ignored by or passed over by the leadership, even if God’s anointing is upon them. Do you rely on your own desires, or on God’s Spirit when looking for staff and speakers?
  7. Nepotism – This is very rampant in the church establishment, perhaps because the church establishment has become a career rather than a calling. It is also one of the most obvious and therefore hurtful mistakes that the establishment can make. I have witnessed excellent candidates who were not even considered for a position simply because the pastors brother-in-law wanted the job. Odds are that anyone who has been in church any length of time has negative feelings on this issue. Is ministry a calling or a career for you?

This is not an exhaustive list, and there is a lot of overlap, but I listed all of these things to point out how “the pride of life” (the pride of position and possessions) is manifest in the church establishment, and God’s word says that “God opposes the proud…” and that pride goes before a fall. Therefore, from one pastor to another, I challenge you to answer these questions honestly and evaluate whether you are a part of the church establishment.

After you have given yourself an honest evaluation ask yourself “What can I change to become more like Jesus?” and “what am I actually prepared to do?”

In conclusion, just like there was a political establishment, there is a church establishment. A loving rebuke and warning to those of the church establishment: You think you are elite but you are not. You teach on maturity but you are the ones who are immature. You talk about love but you love money, influence, power, and control. You love all that is in the world. But no matter which way it is divided, it all boils down to lust and pride. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of Life (the pride of position and possessions). You have no room in your heart for Jesus, but this is your chance to change, and who knows, the Lord may forgive and cover your transgressions as if you never even wandered off the path. I pray this is the case, and it begins with you making a decision to soften your heart, abandon your elitist attitude and in humility ask for forgiveness from the Lord. Open your heart, once again to Jesus. You know Him, now let Him know you.

(See also “What you need to know about church“)

About Jesse Walker