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Churches benefit when the US government shows mercy to groups versus individuals.A blank foster parent application sits on Andrea’s kitchen table, waiting to be filled out. When she and her husband—both youth pastors at a small-town evangelical church—printed the form, she looked forward to fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a foster family: a safe, stable place for children whose lives had been turned upside down. Children unlike herself.Growing up, her childhood as a Salvadoran immigrant to the United States was tranquil. Andrea, who requested that her last name not be used, did have vague knowledge of the rolling deadline that came up every 18 months, with its accompanying stress over paying the $2,000 fee to maintain her family’s temporary protected status (TPS) with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). But every family had financial concerns, so she felt theirs was nothing abnormally burdensome.“We just lived a normal life,” Andrea said. “We’re as rooted as anybody.”The TPS program currently allows 417,000 immigrants who fled extraordinary circumstances to live in the US with permission to work. Many have become deeply enmeshed in their communities, impossible to extricate without sending ripples of instability through families, churches, and businesses.The Trump administration’s decision to terminate TPS for some countries has shaken America’s immigrants. Many will face the decision to remain illegally in what they consider to be their home or to return to a place that would be unsafe for their families. The terminations also cast a shadow of uncertainty over efforts to extend TPS to immigrants from Venezuela. The political situation there has grown dramatically unstable as opposition leader Juan Guaidó, backed ...Continue reading...
Churches benefit when the US government shows mercy to groups versus individuals.A blank foster parent application sits on Andrea’s kitchen table, waiting to be filled out. When she and her husband—both youth pastors at a small-town evangelical church—printed the form, she looked forward to fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a foster family: a safe, stable place for children whose lives had been turned upside down. Children unlike herself.Growing up, her childhood as a Salvadoran immigrant to the United States was tranquil. Andrea, who requested that her last name not be used, did have vague knowledge of the rolling deadline that came up every 18 months, with its accompanying stress over paying the $2,000 fee to maintain her family’s temporary protected status (TPS) with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). But every family had financial concerns, so she felt theirs was nothing abnormally burdensome.“We just lived a normal life,” Andrea said. “We’re as rooted as anybody.”The TPS program currently allows 417,000 immigrants who fled extraordinary circumstances to live in the US with permission to work. Many have become deeply enmeshed in their communities, impossible to extricate without sending ripples of instability through families, churches, and businesses.The Trump administration’s decision to terminate TPS for some countries has shaken America’s immigrants. Many will face the decision to remain illegally in what they consider to be their home or to return to a place that would be unsafe for their families. The terminations also cast a shadow of uncertainty over efforts to extend TPS to immigrants from Venezuela. The political situation there has grown dramatically unstable as opposition leader Juan Guaidó, backed ...Continue reading...
Myungsung, the world's largest Presbyterian church, awaits denominational court ruling on pastoral succession.“You’ve heard that our church is very big. Very large,” said the pastor emeritus of the world’s largest Presbyterian church at the 2018 commencement of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. “I and my colleagues at our church worked together and practiced exactly what American missionaries taught us,” continued Kim Sam-whan, who in 1980 founded Myungsung Presbyterian Church in Korea with 20 members.Today, Myungsung claims more than 100,000 members, and its footprint extend beyond its main Seoul sanctuary with its two towering spires. The church owns and operates an evangelical television channel, two schools, the first and only private prison in Korea, and hospitals in Korea and Ethiopia.However, the megachurch and its denomination have been fractured after the 74-year-old Kim gave his senior pastor position to his 46-year-old son in 2017.Next week, the court of the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK-TongHap), one of the largest of Korea’s more than 100 Presbyterian denominations, is scheduled to announce its decision July 16 on whether the accession of Kim’s son, Kim Ha-na, is valid.The crux of the debate is Article 28.6 of the PCK-TongHap constitution, which prohibits the transference of pastor or elder positions to family members. Defenders argue that Kim Ha-na was elected in accordance with Myungsung’s laws, and the denomination that Kim Sam-whan once headed should not meddle in the megachurch’s affairs. Critics argue that the denomination’s flagship church is flouting the corporate laws it must heed.“Hereditary succession is a major issue in Korea because the world’s first major wave of megachurches was birthed in Korea,” said Warren Bird, ...Continue reading...
Ministry is hard. Small church ministry is relentless. Doing it alone is impossible.
A pastor in New York City is suing the federal government, claiming the government unlawfully detained and monitored her because of her charity work with immigrants.
The Declaration of Independence was a statement against all odds. To some, it could have been called, The Declaration of Insanity.How could thirteen fledgling colonies win a war against the mother country?How could rough pioneers and poor farmers advance against a highly-trained military?How could an under-paid, poorly-clothed, and ill-fed bunch of soldiers fight the deep pockets of support flowing to the enemy?But they did.Signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to stand by what they had signed. And by the time the war was over, they had indeed given their lives and fortunes. Of the fifty-six who signed, every one of them suffered deeply through the war.Today, through the grace of God and the courage of Americans over 200 years ago, we stand a free nation.Today, I'd like to draw your attention to another need in our land—one as great (actually greater) than that of freedom. The need for a spiritual revival.Like the idea of independence in 1776, the idea of revival doesn't look very plausible. The odds are stacked against us. Lawmakers bent on legalizing godless lifestyles, judges who care nothing for our nation's founding documents, citizens who resist and outright reject Christian influence in society—can revival happen today?I believe it can—simply because of 2 Chronicles 7:14:If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.Yes, the odds are great. But I'm concerned our carelessness is greater. We complain about the state of our nation, but we do little to confront it.If we will overcome our greatest obstacle—complacency—I believe we can see revival in America today. But I believe that, as pastors, we will have to pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to see it happen. We'll have to invest ourselves and act.Against all odds we can see revival, but only if we confront the odds.
The Short Answer—I Can't Do Anything Else Proverbs 19:27 “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge.”In 1976 God spoke to my heart about starting a Christian school. I was then pastoring a small, rural church in Northeast Missouri. When I say rural, I mean way out in the middle of nowhere. When I went to the church with my burden, the people I pastored, whose lives incidentally were integrally tied into the small public school there, did not have my burden.A few months later I was ousted from the church and I and several families started a new church about 18 miles away. From the very beginning, everyone knew that a Christian school was in the works. I made a vow to the Lord that my children would never go to a public school.In September of 1978 God fulfilled my burden and the Monroe City Christian School opened its doors with 17 students. If I had had 1700 students that first day, I could not have been prouder. My wife and I bought a huge home there in the city of Monroe City and the church met in our house and we redecorated the basement for the school. Oh, what the Lord did that year.Well, it is now 20 years later, and I believe more in Christian education today than I did 20 years ago in that first ACE classroom.Let me be honest though. There have been times in these 20 years, when it has been tough to continue in this ministry. Finding good, qualified teachers and administrators with the same burden is not easy. The Christian school movement itself has not always been as popular as it was 20 years ago. On many occasions the financial burden has been a great strain on the churches I have pastored. But if something is right and God-ordered, then we should keep doing it even when it is not easy to do it.On a couple of occasions I said to the Lord, kind of in a complaining way, “Lord, would You let me pastor a church without a Christian school?” But God has always answered me, “No, I have given you this responsibility—you carry it.” During times when my burden has grown lax or problems with the Christian school have engulfed me, I have reminded myself of 3 reasons why I believe in the Christian school.Philosophically, I Cannot Do Anything Else.Our text says for us to command our children to stop hearing those who teach them contrary to the Bible. My faith is the most precious thing that I have. I cannot send my children to a Catholic Sunday School because the teachers there would teach them contrary to my faith. Neither can I send my children to a humanist Monday school because the teachers there will teach them contrary to the scriptures.Proverbs 22:15 says, “The rod and reproof give wisdom but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” The older my children get, the gladder I am that I did not give up during the tough times! I see in my grown, older children a worldview that comes from their training at home and at school.It is sad to me when parents give their children a choice about one of the most important things in their life: their education. God gave parents the duty of “bringing up their children” not of allowing them to bring themselves up. As a parent, I am to guide my child, I am not to allow them to guide me. (By the way, parents, that means that you have to know where you are going and what goals you have for your children).Christian schools are not found in the Scriptures. However, the command is that we are to train our children in our faith and not to allow others to teach our children (who are so moldable) contrary to our faith. Christian schools and home schools are simply a way to fulfill those commands.Practically, I Cannot Do Anything Else.One million girls will become pregnant outside of wedlock before graduation day. Before they leave high school, 1.2 million boys will become sexually active. One third of all school children will be so poorly educated they will function under their own intelligence capabilities. All public school students will be taught the untenable and unbelievable theory of evolution. Few will learn the undeniable truth that there is more evidence to support the belief that man was really created by God.Most public school students will not learn to read well and many will not learn to write and think clearly at all. Only about 50% will learn enough geography to identify the location of places like Chicago, Miami, Forth Worth, etc. Fewer will learn to locate Germany, Spain, or Saudi Arabia.They will be exposed to violence, crime, cursing to an extreme, drugs, and sexual promiscuity. Often these things will be condoned by teachers and the administration itself! Many school districts now are exposing their kids to homosexuals and will be taught by sensitivity training that alternative lifestyles are a matter of choice.If I did not have the conviction from the scriptures, even practically, I cannot send my children into that system.Purposely, I Cannot Do Anything Else.I am afraid that most parents do not raise their children on purpose. They simply have no driving purpose that guides their decisions with their home and children. I have one driving desire for my children and that is that they love and serve the wonderful God that I have loved and served.My prayer and aim is that they either serve the Lord in a full time capacity or be used in a good, Bible believing independent Baptist church to further God's work. I want them to be ambitious and do well in whatever vocation God calls them into, but business is second in my mind, God's work comes first.We only have one life and it will soon be past. A hundred years from now it will not make any difference how much money I made. It will make a difference how many souls I led to Christ, how many people I helped guide along the way, and how I served Him for Whom I was made and redeemed!Ps.127:3 says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord.” The word “heritage” means ‘loan.' My children are not mine to raise for myself, they are on loan from the Lord and I must raise them for Him. With these things in mind, I must choose a school that helps me toward my purpose. I must help my children choose a college that will help me toward my purpose. Money should not be the primary consideration. The will of God must be the driving factor. I would sell my house rather than have my children trained contrary to my faith. I know many, many people who live very sacrificially in order to train their children according to their faith.We only get one chance to train our children. Their faith and values cannot be taken for granted. They will learn faith and values. The question is, “Whose faith and whose values will they learn?”From the Daily Manna.
If your schedule is anything like mine, from Thanksgiving to early June is booked. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, starting off new school semesters, winter revival, stewardship emphasis, Easter, graduations…. It fills up pretty fast.Because I know this happens every year, I have adjusted my personal goals for study and growth to be primarily concentrated in the summer months.Summer often allows for a little extra downtime that sometimes the schedules of the school year prohibit.However, this kind of growth doesn't happen automatically. It takes intention.If you, too, are looking forward to some extra opportunities for growth this summer, here are ten ideas—in no particular order—to help you:1. ReadI keep a growing list throughout the year for summer reading and typically read a couple dozen books from June through August.2. Bible StudyThis is a great time to delve into a particular topic, book of the Bible, doctrine, or area of contemporary theology. I work a book or two on whatever topic or doctrine I want to study into my summer reading.3. Learn or Enjoy a HobbySometimes those of us in the ministry forget to live with rhythms of work and rejuvenating. A healthy hobby can help bring balance to our over-extended lives.4. Listen to PreachingWhether it is when you are visiting another church on vacation or listening to messages on a morning jog, it's encouraging and helpful to hear other preachers. Those of us who preach multiple times each week especially benefit from time to simply hear God's Word preached for ourselves.5. Spend Extra Time with the LordGet up an hour earlier one day each week to get out in nature and spend time in prayer. Block off half a day or a whole day to just read your Bible and pray. Perhaps there is a spiritual discipline you noted at the beginning of the year you want to grow in. Take some specific steps toward that growth this summer.6. Spend Extra Time with Your FamilyTake advantage of the later hours of sunlight for family time. Make memories with your wife and children. Take a day trip to go fishing or hiking. Get outside together, and have fun.7. Invest in FriendshipsSchedule coffee with a friend. Plan to read the same book with someone and schedule time to connect to discuss it. Think, too, through who you could invest in as a encourager or mentor this summer.8. Evaluate Ministry NeedsThis is a good time to step back and with some clarity look at the processes, trends, or roadblocks you may be experiencing as a church family. God promises wisdom when we ask Him for it (James 1:5), but His wisdom often comes through insights as we step out of the current long enough to hear His voice.9. Study a Specific AreaThis also relates to summer reading. Consider any personal or family needs or an area of need for your church. Find two or three highly-recommended books on those topics, and commit to studying and learning.10. Attend a ConferenceAttending a conference like Spiritual Leadership Conference gives three days of preaching, fellowship with other pastors, ministry-specific training, and resources. If you were not able to attend the Spiritual Leadership Conference, you can still listen to the sessions online or make plans to attend next year.Perhaps the most important tip for summer growth is to plan for it. If you're not careful, summer will come and go, and it will be the end of August before you realize you missed the opportunity for focused growth.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, United Flight 93 took off from Newark's Liberty International Airport bound for San Francisco. There were forty-four people on board, all of whom would lose their lives that day. Four terrorists took over the plane with the intention of flying it to the Washington DC area and crashing it into one of our government buildings or memorials. They very probably would have succeeded, except for the bravery of the passengers and crew onboard that day.Recently, while preaching in a Faith Promise Missions Conference, the Pastor took the missionary families and me to visit the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. My mind and heart were deeply impressed by the selfless, courageous actions taken by those who were on board and lost their lives that day while attempting to take back control of the airplane from the terrorists. The heartbreaking messages of love from wives, mothers, and husbands to their families were testament to their concern for their loved ones, while they themselves were in absolute jeopardy. The memorial is a wonderful aid that causes us to remember their bravery and devotion.As I stood at the spot looking over the site of the crash (pictured above), God brought three simple thoughts to mind.1. We Do Not Know What Tomorrow HoldsBoast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.—Proverbs 27:1I know that is an elementary statement; but I fear it is a truth we often know, but too often fail to appropriate into our decision-making and lifestyles as believers. We are not guaranteed a tomorrow. We are not to live in abject fear that we may die at any moment, but we are to live with a healthy reverence that at any moment we could leave this life, or Jesus could return. What life-altering truths those statements are! God is not only to be in our planning, He is to have authority over our planning; and His glory is to be the object in every decision and direction for our lives.2. There Are Times and Events That Are Bigger than Our Convenience and Our ComfortWe live in a self-oriented and self-interested world. Just peruse social media for the proof of that statement. Many believers operate with the sense that God exists for the purpose of making their lives good. But we must be reminded that we, in truth, exist to bring God glory! There are times when life delivers us circumstances that are more than difficult: they can appear to be tragic.Certainly, the loss of life in this horrific act of terrorism was senseless and a terrible source of suffering for the families of those lost and for our nation. However, in that loss, the people on that plane revealed to us that human beings can respond to a crisis with a strength and ability that can only be explained by the grace of God. They set aside their own feelings and the sense of their own loss to serve a greater good, stopping that plane from being used as an instrument of war against their nation. Who knows how many other lives were saved because of their selflessness that day in giving their lives for a cause bigger than their own survival?The songwriter penned these words in America the Beautiful: “O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!” We need to be believers who love our God more than our own lives, and serve His cause more than our own.3. God Will Mark Our Service and SacrificeI am thankful for the Flight 93 Memorial and the way it serves to remind us of those who lost their lives on that terrible day. But in truth, most believers who serve the Lord selflessly for His glory will not have an earthly memorial built in honor of their devotion. God does note their service, however, and He will reward the faithful servant! What a day it will be, when the selfless servant of God hears, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”May God help us strive to be Flight 93 believers: Making God the priority of our plans, making His glory the object of our living, and leaving the reward for our service to Him.
“Give Me This Mountain” I find Caleb to be one of the most inspiring personalities in the Old Testament. At eighty-five years old, he had not relinquished the spirit that had motivated him when he was forty. He still believed that through the help and power of God great things could be accomplished. Mountains could be possessed!And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God. And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.—Joshua 14:9–12A study of the life of Caleb will yield four lessons that are important for us to consider today.1. He Was Not Defeated or Discouraged by What Others Thought of HimI enjoy considering the meaning of names as I study; at times, especially in the Old Testament, they can reveal something to us about the person. The name Caleb does not reveal the character of this man, but may be an insight into some of the obstacles he faced. Caleb literally means “dog.” One scholar says it means “raging with canine madness.” In our vernacular, I think we would say Caleb was a “pit bull.” The truth is that though Caleb was of the tribe of Judah, he was from a clan in Judah that had a lower culture and a poor reputation.Notice his father was Jephunneh the Kenezite. This was a wild clan that lived as much amongst the Edomites as the Hebrews. They were not a well-thought-of group. My point is simply this: Caleb was not probably the best educated, nor was he the most cultured man, nor did he come from the royal folk; but he did have a heart for God. He was not going to let his education, his culture, or his family history stop him from being all he could be for God. He became a “pit bull” for God. No giant, no negative Hebrew could stop his zeal for serving the Lord.2. He Refused to Be Influenced by the Negative MajorityAnd Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.—Numbers 13:30When ten of the twelve spies brought an evil, negative report, Caleb spoke in opposition to them and in favor of entering and conquering Canaan. How easy it would have been for him to just blend in. He could have let those articulate ten princes have their say and just nod in agreement.Why should he choose to go against such an influential crowd? Because the crowd was wrong! Caleb was not going to remain silent while the majority was doubting and disobeying God. Thank God that Caleb was willing to take a stand for what was right even when that stand was unpopular.3. He Remained Steadfast throughout His LifetimeCaleb said the Lord had kept him alive for forty-five years from that fateful day when the majority ruled. For forty-five years, Caleb had wandered in the wilderness through no fault of his own. He suffered the same hardships and trials as those who had disobeyed God. Yet, his zeal to serve the Lord had not waned.Our generation needs to learn the steadfastness of Caleb. I am told that the average time a person is passionate to serve God in our churches is three years. May God help us to have the spirit of Caleb to passionately serve Him all the days of our lives.Dr. John Rawlings played such a vital role in leading me to Christ and in encouraging me as a young pastor. He was a man who possessed an unflagging spirit. I will never forget as I visited with him when he was ninety-six years old, and he showed me his ten-year ministry plan. When he went to Heaven at ninety-nine years old, he was still planning and serving. God help us to be committed to serve until our last day! Age may require changes in the work of our ministry, but it never supplies a reason to quit serving.4. He Did Not Let Obstacles Keep Him from the Fight and, Ultimately, the VictoryJoshua 15:13–19 tells how Caleb organized his family to fight the enemy and take the mountain, the walled city, and overcome the giants. Everything in life that is worth accomplishing has obstacles. But knowing God's will allows obstacles to become opportunities for Him to work through us.One of the greatest soulwinners I have ever known was a man named Carlos Demarest. He led thousands to the Lord and encouraged so many Christians to be better witnesses. He was stricken with ALS, and the last stages left him unable to speak and greatly restricted in movement. In his last days of life, he felt led of the Lord to get the phone book of Mexico City, Mexico, and put a letter explaining the gospel and a gospel tract in an envelope and mail it to every listing. Many churches gave to that project; and in his last days, I went to Cincinnati and sat at the table with him and worked with him as he labored, trying to get the letters and tracts into the envelopes.Though he could not speak, he wrote in an almost illegible note, “Pray, Mike, maybe these folks will get saved!” No obstacle could keep him from serving. I have no doubt that in Heaven we will meet people who got envelopes in the mail and met the Saviour because of a severely handicapped man's untiring efforts to “take that mountain.”May God give us the spirit of Caleb. There is still so much to be done and more mountains to conquer!
5 Traits of Burden-Bearing Christians Have you ever known a Christian who seemed to just naturally be a burden-bearer?In over thirty-two years as a pastor, I've known many burden-bearing Christians. But I've discovered that, while some people may do this initially because of their natural temperament, Christians who do this over the decades do so because of growth in grace. That's good news for all of us who would like to grow in the role Galatians 6 describes as someone who bears others burdens.Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ….Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap….And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.—Galatians 6:1–2, 7, 9What kind of Christian is a burden-bearer for others? Here are five traits that I see from Galatians 6 and have observed in the lives of godly Christians:1. Spiritual Christians—“…ye which are spiritual…”Carnal Christians don't notice the people around them who are struggling. They are too absorbed with themselves to consider the lonely widow or fatherless child during the holiday season. A carnal small group leader doesn't notice the person in their group who has been missing church or losing interest. The carnal parent is less likely to pick up on subtle cues that his or her child is spiritually struggling.One of the best ways, then, to grow as a burden-bearer is simply to grow in your own walk with Christ. Not only does spiritual growth help you see the needs of others, but it gives you the strength from the Lord to help bear their burdens.2. Honorable Christians—“…considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”Sometimes we can't help others—not because we're oblivious, but because we're entangled. A Christian who is caught up in his own sin will not be able to effectively help someone else. If this is you, seek out help before helping others. Ask a pastor or spiritual mentor (even if you are the pastor) for biblical counsel and help.More to the direct point of the verse, however, when you are helping to bear someone else's burden, particularly when it is a burden related to a struggle with sin, exercise wisdom, integrity, and accountability in your own life to avoid being pulled in to the other person's temptation.3. Obedient Christians—“Bear ye one another's burdens…”Bearing others burdens is not optional for the child of God. It is something God calls every mature Christian within the local church to participate in.Of course, not every person with a burden walks around announcing his or her burden. Perhaps most don't. This is why we must remain sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit. Often, He will prompt us to minister to someone who is carrying a burden we know nothing about.4. Generous Christians—“…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”Like a farmer planting seed, it takes willingness, vision, and even risk to care for others.It's so easy to become stingy with our time and resources. But real burden-bearers don't just care during the invitation on Sunday or the pre-lesson coffee time in small group. They care all the time and are generous in their compassion and willingness to help.5. Faithful Christians—“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”Sometimes we help people, and they don't appreciate it. Sometimes they even discard or disregard our help. Sometimes they do this and come back to us again later for more help. Burden bearing is hard, and in our flesh, we sometimes get tired of doing it.When I think, however, of the most-impactful burden-bearers in my life, these have been Christians who have loved and cared and served over the decades. These are people who keep bearing burdens—not just for a moment, but as long as God gives them strength.Ask the Lord to help you today to see the needs and burdens that those around you are carrying and to, in His strength and by His Spirit, bear one another's burdens.
Over the last few decades, Americans have seen the destruction of the institution of marriage between a man and a woman, the removal of God's Word in several areas, and the blatant murdering of millions of babies. This is an indictment against America and the pulpit is partially responsible – our silence speaks volumes.
Myungsung, the world's largest Presbyterian church, awaits denominational court ruling on pastoral succession.“You’ve heard that our church is very big. Very large,” said the pastor emeritus of the world’s largest Presbyterian church at the 2018 commencement of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. “I and my colleagues at our church worked together and practiced exactly what American missionaries taught us,” continued Kim Sam-whan, who in 1980 founded Myungsung Presbyterian Church in Korea with 20 members.Today, Myungsung claims more than 100,000 members, and its footprint extend beyond its main Seoul sanctuary with its two towering spires. The church owns and operates an evangelical television channel, two schools, the first and only private prison in Korea, and hospitals in Korea and Ethiopia.However, the megachurch and its denomination have been fractured after the 74-year-old Kim gave his senior pastor position to his 46-year-old son in 2017.Next week, the court of the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK-TongHap), one of the largest of Korea’s more than 100 Presbyterian denominations, is scheduled to announce its decision July 16 on whether the accession of Kim’s son, Kim Ha-na, is valid.The crux of the debate is Article 28.6 of the PCK-TongHap constitution, which prohibits the transference of pastor or elder positions to family members. Defenders argue that Kim Ha-na was elected in accordance with Myungsung’s laws, and the denomination that Kim Sam-whan once headed should not meddle in the megachurch’s affairs. Critics argue that the denomination’s flagship church is flouting the corporate laws it must heed.“Hereditary succession is a major issue in Korea because the world’s first major wave of megachurches was birthed in Korea,” said Warren Bird, ...Continue reading...
How do you work pastorally with people who are likely to fall again?
Publishers and conferences are always looking for good content. Here's what I've learned about creating something they need.Just a few years ago, I was happily pastoring a small church, expecting to spend the rest of my ministry that way.Then I wrote a book about it, and everything changed.Now I have two books out, a third on the way, and I’m asked to speak at dozens of conferences every year.What happened?Why I’m Writing About ThisBefore I answer that, I need to give you three qualifiers:First, being a published author and conference speaker is not better than pastoral ministry. It may be more desired by many people, and it is fulfilling in many ways, but if I could only do one, I’d pick pastoring every time.Second, many aspiring writers and conference speakers have asked me how they can catch the attention of publishers and conference promoters.Third, while this information should be helpful for whatever you’re writing about, I really want to help other small church pastors step up and write, speak and share their expertise.With that in mind, here are 17 principles to consider if you want to become an author or conference speaker:1. Get good at somethingWriting and speaking doesn’t come first. Being good at something worth writing and speaking about comes first.The first line in your speaker/writer profile won’t be how well you turn a phrase, it will be the expertise you have on the subject.2. Find a need and fill itOnce you’ve found your area of expertise, ask yourself “what do people need to know about this that isn’t being adequately covered by other writers and speakers?”For example, in my case, I wanted to write for pastors (my area of expertise) but it seemed like every possible angle had been covered. Then I realized that, while 90 percent of churches are small, less than 10 ...Continue reading...
As pastors in California are wondering what the next step is, God's Word is crystal clear - preach the full counsel of God. Pastors… make no mistake about it: we play an enormous role in shaping the direction of the country. We can no longer remain silent while sin goes unchecked.
A good pastor friend of ours told us that his congregation was experiencing some hardships and division. How often does this happen among us? It breaks my heart -- and I believe the Lord weeps over this too.The post Keep Close! appeared first on Worthy Christian Devotional - Daily Devotions.
The Evangelical Covenant Church voted to defrock a pastor in Minneapolis and expel his church for allowing gay marriage.
Temple Baptist Church - 6-30-2019John 15:11; Nehemiah 8:10Introduction: A. What was the joy of Christ? I want to look at the best definition that I have ever seen, and it comes from your Bible.Habakkuk 3:17-19 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: (18) Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (19) The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.1. In these verses, we find both the “Cause” and “Effect” of the Christian's Joy.2. As is the case many times in the Bible, we find the order reversed. Rejoicing, the Effect, before Joy, the Cause.3. In Verses 18-19, we find the Cause of Joy:a) The God of my Salvation. True Christian Joy comes from God in the form of Eternal Salvation.b) The LORD God, my Strength. True Christian Joy is maintained in the spiritual Strength that comes from God, not circumstances.4. In Verses 17-18, we find the Effect of Joy:a) Though things go wrong, and they do; though life is hard and it is:b) Rejoicing comes from our inner fountain of Joy.5. There was a day when praise and rejoicing were spontaneous, not “worked up.” “Popcorn Testimonies” have become a thing of the past. We need to get our Joy back and Rejoicing will follow without having to be stirred.6. We live in days when pastors feel the necessity to stir our emotions with fleshly music and preaching as to produce rejoicing. Thus, they become Entertainers, not Preachers. Rejoicing should be a spontaneous result of Joy, not the cause of Joy.7. The hymns of the Faith no longer cause Rejoicing, so the modern day “church” is now in the “Entertainment Business” in stead of reproving, rebuking, and Exhorting with all longsuffering and doctrine. Modern day preaching and music reflect the world because most professing “Christians” are more worldly than spiritual.B. Both rejoicing and joy are to be despite our circumstance, not because of them! Most Christians live in discouragement with little joy. Why? The answer is simple.1. Because Of Our Sinfulness - Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (God's people are not drunks and harlots, but sin creeps in and we now walk at a guilty distance from God and the joy is gone.)2. Because Of Our Situations - Matthew 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. (God's people have their eyes upon the “wind and waves” of circumstance and not upon Christ. When Peter looked up instead of looking down, he saw the Lord of the “wind and waves” and once again walked on the water.)C. Many Christians live in defeat with no joy at all.1. For The World, Joy Is Found In Circumstances – Luke 12:16-21 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.2. For The Christian, Joy Is Found Despite Circumstances - 2 Corinthians 7:4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.2 Corinthians 8:2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.Colossians 1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;1 Thessalonians 1:6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:D. Loss of joy comes through:1. Losing the freshness of our salvation.2. Losing the burning love for our Saviour.3. Losing the excitement of our service.WHERE THE CHRISTIAN FINDS HIS JOY1. Christian Joy Is Found In Salvation - Luke 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.Psalms 35:9 And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.Psalms 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.Psalms 132:16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.Isaiah 12:3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.2. Christian Joy Is Found In The Holy Ghost - Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.Joy Is Not Found In The Things Of The World - Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.3. Christian Joy Is Found In God's Word - Nehemiah 8:9-12 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God;mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.4. Christian Joy Is Found In Church - Psalms 42:4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.a. The Joy Of Singing - Psalms 95:1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.Psalms 95:2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.Psalms 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.b. The Joy Of Praise - Psalms 27:6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.5. Christian Joy Is Found In Worship - Nehemiah 12:43 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off. 6. Christian Joy Is Found In Hope - Psalms 30:5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.7. Christian Joy Is Found In Eternity - Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,8. Christian Joy Is Found In Sinners Saved - Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.9. Christian Joy Is Found In A Finished Course - Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.10. Christian Joy Is Found In The Saviour - 1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:Psalms 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Temple Baptist Church - 6-30-2019Romans 15:30-32Introduction:A. When I think of the Apostle Paul, I think of possible the greatest Christian, Apostle, and Missionary of the New Testament. I do not want to spend a lot of time tonight talking about all the biblical accolades given to him as that is not my message.B. He is writing to a church that he did not start and to a people he had never met. He has a prayer request. “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”C. We hear missionaries say that the greatest thing we can do for them is to pray for them. I believe that they are entirely sincere in their askance.D. Paul said for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit. Our greatest obligation to God's men is intercessory prayer.E. If we are to strive in prayer (that means to pray regularly and diligently) for men that we do not know, how much more important is it for prayer to be made for our pastor! Does that sound selfish to you? It is not!F. How to pray for God's man? 1 Thessalonians 5:25 Brethren, pray for us!1. Pray for His Protection. If Satan can take down a shepherd of God's people, the odds are much higher that God's people will scatter. That they'll become bitter and disenfranchised. They will question everything they've ever been taught by that pastor. Satan targets pastors because the damage is exponential if they fall. Pray for your pastor that he would be kept safe from Satan.2. Pray for His Family. When Satan and wicked men cannot get to the pastor, they will attack his family. As goes his family, so goes the pastor.3. Pray for His Encouragement. The attrition rate in the ministry is great. So many more men of God are quitting than are answering the call to the ministry. More missionaries are leaving the mission field than are going. Discouragement is the most common cause of defeat.4. Pray for His Purity. Pastors are just men with a divine call. They are subject to like passions such as you have, and Satan will make sure that temptation is placed in front of them.5. Pray for His Physical Well-Being. I know that a pastor only works a 3 hour week, but he needs to be able to work 4 when needed. 😊 When he fails physically, it affects every other part of his life.6. Pray for His Wisdom and Spiritual Discernment. A pastor will have to make a lot of decisions and make spiritual judgments that are consistent with the Bible.7. Pray for His Study. Study and Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth are foundational for Bible teaching and preaching. There are so many easy ways to get sermon outlines in these high tech days but there is no substitute for personal Bible study.8. Pray for His Boldness. Ephesians 6:19-20 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, (20) For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Temple Baptist Church - 5-5-2019Romans 15:1-7Introduction:A. “We then” shows a continuation and conclusion of the context found in chapter 14. There are some couplets found in verse one.B. Two types of believers. Both are saved.1. “Strong.” “We then that are strong.” Mature in Christ and serving Christ. The Christian life is a personal one as it is our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. In Hebrews, chapter 5, Paul said, “When for the time ye ought to be teachers.” Spiritual maturity brings about strength in Christ. This is what God expects from us all!2. “Weak.” “Infirmities of the weak.” The word “infirmity” is normally used when mentioning sickness, disease, or impotence. Within our context, if is descriptive of the immature child of God who remains in bondage instead of relishing the liberty that we are to have in Christ.C. This portion of Scripture is not written to the pastor alone. The strong speaks of those who:1. Are strong in their personal Faith. They know that they are saved and are servants.2. Are strong in the Scriptures. They can understand and teach the doctrines of the faith.3. Are strong in Church. They are faithful to and serving in the local church.4. Are strong in Tribulation. They are enduring and steadfast when trials come.D. The strong are those who live their lives for Christ, others, but not self. It is our love for Christ that determines our life lived for Christ. It is our life lived for Christ that counts.“My life, my love, I give to Thee,Thou Lamb of God who died for me;Oh, may I ever faithful be, My Savior and my God! I'll live for Him who died for me, How happy then my life shall be! I'll live for Him who died for me, My Savior and my God! The world and all its joys I leave;My life, O Lord, Thou wilt receive;Henceforth no more Thyself I'll grieve, My Savior and my God! O Thou who died on Calvary,To save my soul and make me free,That I may ever live for Thee My Savior and my God!”E. We do not have the power, in most instances, to take away the infirmities of the weak. Spiritual growth must come from within each of us individually. Spiritual maturity cannot be forced.1. Verse 1-2. Spiritual Obligation. Chapter 14 speaks of two classes of believers. Strong and weak.a. To be Strong in the Lord. We have a spiritual obligation to mature in the Lord. To conform to the image of the Son of God. 1 John 2:12-14 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. (13) I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. (14) I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.b. To Bear the infirmities of the Weak. To put up with! We have a spiritual obligation to both longsuffering with and exhortation of the weak. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; (13) And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. (14) Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. (15) See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.c. To Share the gifts that God has given to us. As God has blessed us, we are to be a blessing to others. Not selfish, but selfless. Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.2. Verse 3-4. Spiritual Example. In these verses, we find two sources of example.a. The Son of God. Jesus Christ gave up heaven for sinners. The Strong for the weak. John 10:10-11 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (11) I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.b. The Word of God. The Word of God throughly furnishes the child of God for the task ahead of him or her. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.3. Verse 5. Spiritual Keys.a. Patience. Ephesians 4:1-2 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, (2) With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;b. Consolation. Consolation comes through consideration and loving exhortation. Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: (25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.4. Verse 6. Spiritual Goals.a. One mind. Philippians 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.b. One mouth. 1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.5. Verse 7. Spiritual Conclusion.5. Verse 7. Spiritual Admonition. a. Receive one another.b. As Christ receives you.6. We Have Been Called To Serve One Another - Galatians 5:13-14 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (We were not set at liberty so that we could fulfill the desires of the flesh.)a. We Can Serve One Another By Having Compassionb. We Can Serve One Another Through Prayerfulnessc. We Can Serve One Another By Giving Comfortd. We Can Serve One Another Through Exhortatione. We Can Serve One Another By Sustainingf. We Can Serve One Another By Strengtheningg. We Can Serve One Another By Simply Listeningh. We Can Serve One Another By Weeping With Those Who Weep
Temple Baptist Church - 5-1-2019Hebrews 8:1-6Introduction: A. The Book of Hebrews, written to the strangers scattered referenced by Peter in 2 Peter 3:15, was written to encourage the saved Jews of the dispersion. They were familiar with the Old Testament economy of Law but not yet familiar with the New Testament economy of Grace and Truth.John 1:15-17 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. (16) And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. (17) For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.B. “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum.” Sum – the combination or culmination of different things that go together to make one. A summary. C. The Holy Spirit uses these verses to show the ultimate priesthood of Christ, which was far better than the Levitical priesthood.D. These Jewish believers were familiar with the work of the priesthood. The Levitical Priesthood began with Aaron, whom God personally appointed. The priesthood of Christ came after the Order (character) OF Melchisedec.E. Melchisedec was an Old Testament type and our Lord Jesus Christ was the anti-type or fulfillment of that type.Hebrews 7:2-3 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; (3) Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.F. Why a High Priest? 1. In the Old Testament, the High Priest represented man to God. Individuals could not come directly to God, therefore the priesthood. Priests offered up the sacrifices brought to the Tabernacle (and later the Temple). The High Priest represented man to God when, once a year, he entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of atonement.2. In the New Testament economy, God gave passing gifts of apostles and prophets during the “Transitional Period” because the Word of God had not yet been completed. (1 Corinthians 13). The apostles represented God to man whereas the priests represented man to God.3. God also gave evangelists and the pastor/teacher to the local church. The evangelist is the missionary and the pastor/teacher the Bishop or “under-shepherd.”4. The apostles and prophets are now gone as the Word of God came in its completion and purity. Pastors take the oversight of the flock of God and each individual is his own “priest.” We can go directly to God through the precious blood of Christ instead of through a priest.5. But, there was and is still a need for a High Priest. In chapter 9, we will see much about the blood of Christ once offered for the sins of the people and applied to the Mercy Seat in heaven. The blood is still there and the censor remains in the HOLY OF HOLIES in the heavenly Temple.Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.G. Here is the Sum: through our Better High Priest:1. We have a Better Purity. “such an high priest” Before Christ, men could not enter the Holy Place. They brought their sacrifices to the priests who offered those sacrifices upon the Brazen Altar.a. The Old Testament high priest had to wash at the Laver before entering the Holy Place. The Laver was made of the brazen mirrors of the women to make the high priest see and recognize his need of personal cleansing.b. The Old Testament high priest had to first offer for his personal sins before offering for the sins of the people.c. Jesus Christ was the sinless Son of God who knew no sin, did not sin, thought no sin, and spoke no sin. He had no need of sacrifice for purification. Through His sacrifice, we become pure as He is pure.2. We Have A Better Position. “who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens”a. The Old Testament priest was an earthly man. Though the work of the priesthood was 24 hours a day, the High Priest could only approach God at the Mercy Seat once a year.b. His work was to offer incense daily but, as an earthly man, he had to sleep.c. Jesus Christ is a heavenly man who is seated with God with intercession being made throughout the day. We are eternally positioned, hid with Christ in God.d. While we sleep, He is our safeguard, our mediator, our intercessor. Jesus Christ neither slumbers nor sleeps.3. We Have A Better Performance. “A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” a. The Old Testament Priest ministered in the Tabernacle made by man. A shadow of the true Tabernacle in heaven. The Old Testament priest offered daily for sin.b. Jesus Christ entered the True Tabernacle in heaven for us. Our High Priest offered once for sin, never to be offered again. Christ died once for all.4. We Have a Better Propitiation. “For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.”a. The Old Testament high priest offered the blood of bulls and goats as an atonement for sin.b. Jesus Christ offered His precious, incorruptible blood as the final payment for sin.5. We Have a Better Promise. “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”a. The Old Testament high priest's work was Prophetic.b. Jesus Christ's priestly work is fulfillment of Prophecy.Conclusion: The sum is the culmination of who Christ is and what Christ has done.
Temple Baptist Church - 4-28-2019Romans 14:1Introduction: A. We have been in chapter 14 for several weeks because of its importance in maintaining complete unity within the local church.B. The greatest problem in churches is that of Christians not getting along.Matthew 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: (Shall not stand, not might not stand! This is an emphatic prophecy by Christ Jesus. Satan fully understands this principle and continually tries to get his “foot in the door” of the local church.)C. Normal divisions within local churches are not doctrinal in nature. Everyone of us in Temple Baptist Church tonight are on the “same page” doctrinally.1. There are times when “wolves” come in our doors and try to get anchored on the pews, but I have gotten pretty vigilant concerning their characteristics and watch for them. Unapologetic preaching of God's Word normally takes care of that problem.2. The Holy Ghost has identified the number one problem with division within the local church in this chapter. The enemy is always among us because we all have the potential to be just that. I have seen good people become divided over things that matter little.D. How to keep down personal conflict is very simple but easily forgotten. We need to realize that there is diversity in the Body of Christ! We have liberty in Christ, but this is neither liberty to sin nor liberty to hurt others.1 Corinthians 12:13-25 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to bemore feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.1. Our personalities are different. (Introverts and extroverts)2. Our temperaments are different. (Easy going and fly off the handles)3. Our upbringing, therefore, our outlook may be different. (Some get excited and some don't)4. Our spiritual maturity is at different levels. (Everything from babes to giants)5. Our spiritual desires are at different levels. (Some desire to serve while others observe)6. Our positions are different. (Pew people to pastors)E. GOD RECEIVES US ALL! If God receives us, then we are to receive each other.1. Receive Those Who Do Not Agree With You. Romans 14:3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. (I know we have the same Holy Spirit, but I have learned that not everyone has the same convictions. Some Christians are carnal while others are pharisaical.)a. If someone has a conviction, you should honor it as much as possible in their presence. 1 Corinthians 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.b. If someone does not have a conviction, you should not try to enforce yours upon them. I Corinthians 9:21-22 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 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. (This does not mean to go against your personal convictions, but to stay away from areas of contention.)2. Receive Those Who Continue To Be Babes In Christ.a. There are some who refuse to grow spiritually and will always be babes in Christ. Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. (They are blown about and the strong need to be a stabilizing force for them.)b. There are some who will always oppose themselves. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (They continue to hurt themselves and the strong are to love, pray, and help them when possible.)3. Receive Those Who Continue In Unfaithfulness. a. There are some who will never be faithful to the Church. Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Be considerate of them though they are not considerate of you. Go out of your way to make them both welcome and wanted.)b. There are some who will never be faithful to serve the Lord. 1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. (Continue to serve the Lord faithfully without indicting those who do not. It is between them and the Lord, not them and you.)4. Receive Those Who Have Failed The Lord.a. There are some who failed in the area of service. Acts 15:37-39 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus.b. There are some who have failed in the area of sinfulness. 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirmyour love toward him.
As the United States and China continue to discuss trade, we have a unique opportunity to raise religious freedom concerns such as that country’s ongoing detention of Christian pastors and mass repression of Uyghur Muslims. It is therefore encouraging to see Family Research Council President and chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Tony Perkins announce yesterday that he was formally adopting Dilshat Perhat Ataman as a prisoner of conscience to highlight his case of unjust imprisonment due to his faith.Dilshat is a Uyghur Muslim currently detained in a “re-education” internment camp in China’s Xinjiang province.Dilshat founded and managed a popular website called “Diyarim,” which promoted Uyghur history and culture and provided a social media platform to the Uyghur community. In 2009, he was arrested by Chinese authorities and charged with “endangering state security” after a comment was posted in a chatroom on his website about the Chinese government’s suppression of Uyghur protests.After serving five years in prison, Dilshat was released in 2014. Yet, his freedom was short-lived. In June 2018, he was rearrested without reason from the Chinese authorities—this time he was taken to a “re-education” internment camp.Those who have been released from these camps describe how Uyghurs are tortured during interrogation, live in crowded cells, and are subjected to extensive daily regimens of Chinese Communist Party indoctrination (as seen in this BBC report). Detainees routinely face harsh treatment and are forced to live in unhygienic conditions, sometimes leading to their death. The Chinese government has invested a lot of resources to surveil and suppress Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group who are mostly Muslim. Yet, it is not a contradiction to say that Christians must care about the suffering they face due to their religious beliefs and advocate on their behalf. Christians believe that God is in control of human affairs yet gives people the freedom to choose their beliefs. Just as God gives people that freedom, we should defend the freedom of others to choose and live out their religious convictions without any government harassing, oppressing, imprisoning, or killing people for expressing their basic right to religious freedom.What the Chinese government is doing to the Uyghurs is evil—and that should be something everyone is concerned about.Dilshat is one of at least 880,000 and possibly more than 2 million Uyghurs who are detained in Chinese “re-education” internment camps.The injustice of China’s detention of Dilshat Perhat Ataman in a “re-education” camp is obvious. Hopefully, by bringing Dilshat’s case to light, there will be a greater awareness of the plight of Uyghur Muslims who are targeted for persecution because the Chinese government views their religious beliefs as a threat to the political ideology and authority of the Communist Party.
Before learning how to get bigger, every church needs to ask if it should get bigger.You can’t pastor a church of 500 the way you pastored it at 100. Or a church of 100 the way you did at 25.But how do we know if we should break through from one size to another?For at least a generation there’s been an underlying assumption that every church should strive to be bigger. It’s never a question of whether-or-not we should break through growth barriers, just whether-or-not we’re willing to do what it takes to get there.What if we tapped the brakes on that for a moment?Assume NothingAssumptions are dangerous.As my church growth friends like to tell us, we can’t assume that what got us to one level of growth will get us to the next. But shouldn’t that also apply to assumptions about whether-or-not we should get to another growth level?Yes, we need to obey the Great Commission. Seeing people come to Christ must be at the heart of every healthy church.But that doesn’t necessarily mean that a bigger church is 1) the best way to do that, or 2) the inevitable result of having done that.Question EverythingHow do we know that a congregation will not grow beyond certain sizes (typically called “barriers”) unless the leadership changes the way they lead? Because that’s been studied, researched, footnoted and proven for decades. You simply cannot lead a church of 1,000 in the same way as a church of 100.But we haven’t spent much, if any time doing similar research to ask whether-or-not we should break growth barriers. For instance, if you Google “how to break church growth barriers” you’ll get a ton of great material on how to break church growth barriers.Then, if you Google “why break church growth barriers” you’ll get ...Continue reading...

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