Category: CHristian leadership


Are there things in the Bible that are hard to understand?  How about things that I wish, at least on a certain level were not true?  Yes without a doubt.  Just a couple of examples.

I have both a cousin and a couple of friends from high school all of whom are involved in same-sex relationships.  Yet Romans 1:27  “And likewise also the men leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one towards another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet”. Wow do I wish that wasn’t there.
Now that’s tough, but for me it gets worse.  Jesus said “I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery”. Being a single red-blooded male I fail at this pretty much on a weekly basis.  I could go on and on.  But I think you get the point.

Does what I think matter?

R.C. Sproul talks about a revelation he had while at graduate school, “You are required to believe and to preach, and to teach what the Bible says is the truth, not what you think it ought to be.”  Maybe the examples above don’t bother you, but I’m sure if you haven’t found something you wish wasn’t there you will.  What ever it is really doesn’t matter.
I may not like what the Bible says, but if God is real and who he claims to be, which is what I believe to be true based upon what I can know.  Then I have to accept what He says to be true even if I don’t always understand why.  Otherwise I am assuming the role of God, and I have elevated myself to god hood.
Perhaps I should embrace something Jim Rohn used to say, “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.”  Taking it a step further.  Don’t wish God was different, don’t just wish I was better, but work strive study to be better.  Work on disciplining my thoughts and emotions in order to be who God created me to be rather than wishing I did not have to be that person.

 

Are you willing to work to become the man God made you to be, or are you just going to wish God was different?

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You can give without loving, but not love without giving.

Christians should be wildly generous because God has been radically generous with us by giving himself freely.  When I did not deserve it God loved me.  When I was not only apathetic but out right hostile, God came to this world to show His love to me.

Who does that?

Or the even bigger question is why.  Why did God choose to give himself to us?  Why would he choose to love us?  I’ve heard some speak of God loving his creation because he made us.  That doesn’t sem to satisfy me, does it you?  Never the less He does, which then leads me to consider how then should I live my life?
As much as on one level I tend to be selfish and self centered I have to ask myself how can I not be generous with others.  Since God loved me how can I not love others?  After all they go hand in hand, being generous and loving people.
But being generous isn’t just about money.  What about time or talent?  I don’t know about you, but I get just as much if not more out of investing my time and energy in other people.
Now that’s all well and good when it comes to people I like or at least tolerate.  It’s easy to be involved with people who are like me, or people I like.  But what about people I don’t?  It’s easy enough to say love your enemies, even easy enough to say “yes I love those that persecute me.”  But what about actually being generous with yourself towards those people?

God’s love is radical, His generosity is incomprehensible so I must be generous, not just with other Christians but with

those that are hostile.  After all His love was radical, so I need to be as well.

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Yep I struggle with this, more than I really want to admit.  Surfing the net at work, not doing everything I should for my clients, or not doing things as good as I can.  Sometimes just phoning it in.  SOmetimes my Christian ethic is not what it should be, and it bothers me even if I am the only one that knows.

1Corinthians 10:31 says pretty clearly “Therefore, wether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  Now maybe you will or won’t sing hymns or praise songs while your working, but that is secondary.  Do you out perform everyone you work with?  Do you work in such a manner that it brings glory to God?  Or does your boss think, I’m never hiring a Christian again?  Are you working like Jesus is standing across the room?

Saying I am going to and actually doing it are two different things

I keep saying I am committed to do the best job I can, not just for my boss, or my clients.  But because I really believe that when Jesus said I am with you always, he meant it.  I want my actions, big or little to bring glory to God, and at the same time raise questions in those around me as to why.  Yet I fail more than I would like to admit even here among friends.
I want those I work with to ask, “Why do you work so hard?”  “Why do you do the extras,?”  What’s different about that guy that he tries harder than everyone else.  I want to “let your light so shine before men that they see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” Matthew 4:16, also see Collosians 3:17, and 1Peter 4:11
What about you, will you act in such a way that others will notice that there is something about you that is not like everyone else?
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Faithful Unto Death – Christianæ ad Leones (Ch...

Faithful Unto Death – Christianæ ad Leones (Christians to the Lions). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notice I didn’t say like.

Our command, our marching orders are to love.  Not because it’s easy, or even fun, but that’s the Christian ethic.  Sometimes we have to love people we may not even like very much.  We are not told to revolt, rebelling against the rightfully, God established government.  Neither are we to collaborate, trying to reach some weak-kneed compromise.  And don’t even think about withdrawing, if Jesus wouldn’t pray that we be taken out of the world, then why would we ever think that’s the best answer.

I am still hearing all kinds of goofy talk about revolting against the authorities in place.  Not sure what part of Paul instructing the early Christians to submit to the magistrate some people are thinking does not apply to them.  Lets be honest any kind of “persecution” you or I face today as a result of our Christianity is little more than a pinch compared to what the early church went thru.  I don’t know about you but I have not heard of a single Christian in America being used as a living torch for an executive BBQ.  No reports that I am aware of a circus lion noshing on anyone for claiming the name of Christ.  So let’s get real about persecution.  Let me be blunt and probably irritate more than a few, but the Church in America should be so lucky as to come under real persecution.  Before you rant go look at what is happening to the church in China.

Love isn’t compromise

The another option is to collaborate.  I know some would say let’s find the common ground and work on that.  Now I’m not saying be antagonistic for the sake of argument.  But what is going on when a church leader is ignoring the Christian ethic we are commanded, not a suggestion by the way, to tell and show the truth.  For example what the heck is the snuggling up to Hinduism, Buddhism, or some other ism because there is 10-15% similarity.  Are you really going to try to convince me, or worse yourself that God is going to someday in the future tell you that since you had good intentions that is good enough?  I would love you to show me where you read that in the Bible.
Finally, disappearing into the mountains in Montana with freeze-dried food and a handful of guns isn’t the answer either.  If Jesus wouldn’t pray for his disciples to be taken out of the world, what makes you think your special?  What’s more the world needs you, your salt, your light.  You have an obligation, a duty to show people Jesus, in word and in deed.  If you’re not then what value does your “Faith” really have?

Not easy doesn’t mean hard.

What the heck made you think it was going to be?  Maybe someone told you when you came to Christ the suffering would be over.  “Just come to Jesus and it’s all going to be  rainbows and unicorns.”  I hope not, but if they did I’m sorry.  It’s not easy, but compared to the alternative what else are you going to do?  Being a Christian is not for the faint of heart.  On the upside the one who runs the show has said he will be there no matter what happens.
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The Last Judgement

The Last Judgement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beauty, Creativity, Arts, & Science

 

The very best in all of these disciplines should be coming out of the Christian community.  We have access to the biggest and best creative pool anyone has ever known and additionally we are tied into the source of all knowledge and wisdom.

So why is so much art generated by those who would call themselves by the name of Christ mediocre?  Now before you go getting all defensive, I did not say all but much, and before you comment go turn on a Christian radio, TV, or movie and honestly evaluate and compare. Are the production levels, the performances, the sense of it up to what the rest of the world produces?  Or is it more like comparing a Hollywood blockbuster with a 14 year olds hand-held production.  Is the musicality there or is it akin to listening to an 8-track from the 70’s?
We, the church, used to lead.  It did not matter if it was Art: the David, the Sistine Chapel, or countless others, Music: Bach, Brahms et al, Science Newton, Galileo, and others.  So what happened?  When did it change?  And when are we going to reclaim our place of leadership?  It’s way past time for those who would call themselves Christian to stop shying away from or even being antagonistic to art and science and realize our God-given talents.

Lead, Excel, Be Great

Do you really think we should just put it out even if it’s only mediocre?  I have to wonder even with this blog and some other things I am working on if it is the best it can be.  Am I just phoning it in?  Is it good enough, or am I short-changing not just you, but also God?
I believe that the Christian ethic demands to do what I can to produce the best product I am capable of creating.  That includes taking the time and effort to become better.  This blog, the classes I teach, if they’re not better this month than they were last then what value are they?

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” – Colossians 3:23

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I’m reading “God, no” by Penn Jillette, yes I think reading these types of books are just as important as things like “Mere Christianity” when it comes to being able to explain what you believe and stand for.  Anyway so one of the theory’s about the foundations and reasons of religion discussed is that religion was a system developed by men in order to control others, to keep the masses in line, to give religious leaders wealth and power.  On the surface this has a certain possibility to it, although I cannot speak to any religion besides Christianity, once I look a little deeper this starts to crumble.

Christianity calls for obedience that is a fact, but obedience to what?  God and the teachings of Christ.  Yes render to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s, but what about the believers refusing to deny Christ, to the point of death.  Well that doesn’t seem to get everyone in line.  So how about as a way to increase the wealth of the religious leaders?
 

What men do vs. what God commands

Have there been those in positions of leadership in organized religions that have lived off the work of their followers?  Of course, you don’t have to look to far back to see more than a few, Jim Baker ring a bell?  And there is no need to list all of those just in the past 10 years have lied, embezzled, even out right stolen for their own gain.  But that’s what men have done, in stark contrast what God actually does say?
 

To obey is better than sacrifice 1Samuel 15:22

 
So how does that bring power, wealth, and prestige to the leaders of Judaism, and Christianity?  Here is  a book written to control saying to obey, but is that to the benefit of a priest, a preacher or some other leader?  Power maybe but what are we being told to obey?  The Rabbi?  The local preacher?  No, God.  Not man that’s the point.  Christianity calls time and again for the leadership to be servants.  “Let he who is greatest among you be servant of all”. I know that is a radical thought.  No Muslim, no Hindu, no Buddhist would ever teach such a thing.  Only Christianity would dare equate service with greatness.
 
So Mr. Jilette may be correct with regard to some religions in the world, he is most certainly wrong with regards to the religion know as Christianity.
 

If your religion brings you into line with the leaders are you submitting to the civil magistrate? Are you ignoring your real leader?

I’m not talking about deserters but those walking wounded that have stepped on a landmine and need a caring, gentle hand to nurse them back to health.  Yes the great physician may have amputated a hand, maybe even a leg, but are we then court marshaling our brothers for being damaged?

We all are walking wounded.  Your limp, my missing limb, we all are damaged.  Yet I see time and time again we look at someone failing, and that being used as a reason to shoot our wounded.  I’m not talking about those instances like those referred to by Jesus in Matthew 18 where a brother is in opposition to God.  But what about the sister who way back when did X, and so today she is still being shunned?  The recovering addict, the former gang member, the ex-con, or even the divorced.

Those people

“People will know you are my disciples because of your love for one another.”  Sometimes we, yes we, get so caught up in what someone else might think, that we lack compassion for those around us.  The congregation(church) I attend used to be known as “the drugie” church.  I almost wish we still were.  Not because I want to see people addicted, but because it is up to us to make God known to those who need Him.  It’s all well and good to belong to a congregation where everyone comes dressed up in their Sunday best.  But there also needs to be a place for the hurting, the damaged, the lost, the Christian ethic demands it.

Love others well.

Expect the best of people.  Raise up God’s standard.  But don’t go adding to it.  Yes Jesus said “Go and sin no more”  but He also made a point of reaching out to Peter after the resurrection.
We, you and I, are not suffering from an abundance of love, and grace towards those around us. Maybe it is time to change that.

Perhaps we should try to love too much.

Or is it?

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” John Adams Treaty of Tripoli signed at Tripoli on November 4, 1796
“We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion……Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  John Adams. Address to the officers of the Massachusetts Militia 1798
“Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters friends and mutual assistants.”  James Wilson, U. S.  Supreme Court Justice, and signer of the US Constitution
“The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws…….  All the miseries & evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”  Noah Webster.
And from what is generally regarded as the least religious of all the founders “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.  As nations become corrupt & vicious, they have more need of masters”. Benjamin Franklin April 17,1787

So which is it?

Are we or are we not a Christian nation?  It would seem to me that our founders did not see America as a Christian nation in that there would be no official religion like England, setting up a system that would prohibit any sect or denomination from forcing its beliefs onto the citizen.  We, America, would not be a theocracy.  But also it was a nation that was for Christian ethics and could only succeed if the leaders held Christian values and let those values inform their decisions regarding the governance of the nation.

Have we gotten off track?

I don’t see how anyone could think other wise.  We allow the wholesale murder of a defenseless group.  The government steals from its citizens on a daily basis, taking the fruits of their labor to give to those who have not produced,( for an alternative view on how best to care and provide for the poor see the Acton Institute) .  Not only failing to protect the weak, but taking advantage of them and using, these the weakest, as an excuse for much of it.  And treating different people differently the very definition of discrimination all in the in the name of justice.

Would the founders recognize the government we have?

Worse still does God see us as a nation that seeks justice and loves mercy?

If this then that.  

It is the IF that brings about the Then.  It all begins with a presupposition, an idea that if this, then that.  If there is a God, then he must have created everything.  Or conversely if we evolved then what was the origin?  But always there is the presupposition that begins the theory, the hypothesis, and therefore impacts the answer.
Richard Dawkins states “Christianity was founded by Paul of Tarsus”, this is the if.  If this is the founding, the beginning then the rest is laughable.  It is not based upon the reality of Christ.  Christianity then becomes a what should be, not a what is.  But if instead Christianity was founded by Jesus of Nazareth, what is the then?  Now it’s a truth system based upon factual accounts, grounded not in a way things ought to be but, on the way things are.
So what are the proofs, facts, and truths, that Christianity is based upon?  Mr. Dawkins would have us believe that it is based upon not the teachings of the Christ, but of Paul.  While it is true that much of the New Testament was written by Paul, not all of the New Testament, his were not the first writings, nor the last.
If Paul was the founder of the Christian faith then we Christians are to be pitied more than any others for we are not only following a religion that can not do what it claims, but leaves no hope for those that would trust in it.  One of the foundational truths, in fact I would say the foundational truth is the claim by Jesus “I am the way the truth and the light, no man comes to the Father but by me.”  How can Paul make such a claim for the Christ?

Or if ? then?

If, on the other hand, man is the result of matter+time+chance then there is no right or wrong.  Can one be moral without a Creator?  Not if we are the result of evolution.  If we are evolved then morality is whatever society says it is, but society can only declare what it must declare.  Gone is free-will, instead is instinct.  And morality determined by each society is anchored in nothing.  After all as Ravi Zacharias points out “some societies love their neighbors, others eat them.  Do you have a preference?”
On the other hand if there is a creator, then even the atheist can be moral.

For only with a moral law giver then there can be a moral law.

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Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane),...

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane), oil painting by Heinrich Ferdinand Hofmann (Heinrich Hofmann). The original is at the Riverside Church (Riverside Church, New York City). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Working thru some things at the weekly men’s breakfast, the idea of God’s wrath came up.  We were looking at the fact that God is unchanging, and a couple of the guys who are newer to being disciples of Christ were asking about the God of the Old Testament vs. the God of the New Testament.  They had been given the idea that God pre the incarnation of Christ was mean, and punished and was full of wrath.  But now, since the life of Jesus, God is love.  Kind, loving, gentle, God is now different.

How can God be Loving and Wrathful?

So is God different?  Has he changed?  My Bible says he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  So why the disconnect between the perception of what God was like in the Old Testament, vs God who is in the New Testament.  The one that created the biggest discussion is the wrath of God.
So did God stop being wrathfull after the crucifixion of Jesus?  First God released his wrath on Jesus when he was put on the cross.  When Jesus took my sin on himself, taking my place, he not only took my sin, my failure, but he also endured God the Father’s wrath.

Doesn’t seem to me God’s Wrath is gone

Secondly look at Revelation 6:16 which says “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:”
That’s not the wrath of the Father, the Lamb is Jesus and His wrath is coming.
Now that’s not about trying to scare you.  Hopefully you are a disciple of Christ, a Christian, and the wrath mentioned above is not directed at you.  But it does go to show that God’s wrath did not go away, or stop.  He may withhold his wrath for a season, for a time, but patience isn’t the same as forgetfulness.
On the other hand if you have not made Jesus Lord, my question is what are you waiting for?  God may be long suffering, that doesn’t mean He is asleep.
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