Finding Life in a Dead Church | Jay Fesperman (2/3)
The first thing to look at is the church’s leadership. Paul’s guidelines for the church’s leadership is found primarily in the letter to the Ephesians church. In the fourth chapter beginning with verse eleven, he outlines the major roles of leadership: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service.”
Most churches are absolutely afraid to talk about “apostles”, since, they say, “the apostolic age came to an end with the close of the New Testament era”. But from some of the things we see in the church today, it looks more like the “pastoral” age has come to an end. Very few denominations today prepare their ministers for real pastoral functions. Pastoring is a whole lot more difficult [of] a work than preaching. Pastoring requires personal involvement. Preaching doesn’t. Pastoring hours are 24 per day. Preaching hours, including some study time, is far less demanding. In many other cases, the church is so limited financially that the man dubbed “pastor” has to double over in several other areas of responsibility, reducing greatly his opportunity for pastoring.
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples“. A disciple is one who seeks to emulate his teacher in every way, so that the multiplying factor may be carried forward. But the church makes very little provision for discipling, either in the local scene or in the broader system of denominationalism. The Lord’s example was to select a small group of a dozen men and give a great part of His life to them. That’s how leaders are developed. You cannot take men into a classroom situation and make . . . disciples [of them]. The area of learning must be seen as out in the field where the action is.
One of the most serious things wrong with the church today is its almost total lack of anything to attract the youth of today. Here is where the leaders of tomorrow’s church must come from. Since the normal socio-family life of today is not conducive to the development of well-disciplined lifestyles, the church must find a way to train its future leaders for the spiritual warfare that lies just ahead for the victorious church. Having worked through a dozen years of our “Disciplined Life in Christ”[now Heroes Semester] training program at [CTCI], we are quite knowledgeable of today’s young adult segment of the church. We know how very much they appreciate disciplines and lifestyles that establish peace and order in their lives. And it is a well-proven fact that the training must be on a very practical basis. It must be based on daily living, in the family, with peers, in situations that call for immediate action.
Today’s young people, in the main, want to learn the things that most of their fathers are not showing them. They want to replace the intangibles of the educational systems with reality. They want to de-politicize the controlling factors of life as it is lived in our nation. They want to learn how to work. Simply speaking, “How do you hold down a job? How do you, by the sweat of your brow, earn a promotion? How do I fulfill the ambitions that are in my heart? I want to be able to establish myself, to . . . have personal satisfaction out of knowing that I can accomplish some things on my own. . .” These are all questions that need answers for today’s Christian youth. The church must equip herself to provide this kind of work day preparation for the disciples the Lord is calling for.
I could name several large, successful organizations that are training young folks in the disciplines of service and witness. And we can be thankful for them. But why doesn’t the church recognize this is the Lord’s call on her? And where else but in the church (or at home) [should] they learn how to pray? Or how to give help to others seeking a new life? Or dealing with all the false religious goings-on in the world today? And where else should they see signs and miracles as the work of the Holy Spirit, but in the church? And healings or casting out of demon spirits?
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Volume 5, No.3, May 1985.
But our holiness depends on our mentality. What do we choose to do and [who do we choose to] be? We live in the flesh but we are not of the flesh – unless we choose to be. Paul says, “Though you used to be slaves to sin, you have wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. YOU HAVE BEEN SET FREE FROM SIN and have become slaves of righteousness. I put this in human terms,” he continues, “because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness LEADING TO HOLINESS.” (Romans 6:17-20)
Isn’t it amazing how the eye of man can scrape up off a piece of paper the printed Word of God – that which we call “Holy Scripture” – transfer those words into the brain, let the brain give interpretation to the heart, then move the heart to affect the life of a person so thoroughly that the entire life of the person can be forever changed!
On our recent tour of the ministry in England, Ireland, northern Ireland, and Germany, Sally and I sensed the Lord was putting strong emphasis on a few specific words. One of those. . .was the word UNITY. It seems that in every place from Belfast to Munich, the Lord was shouting, “Unity! Unity! Unity!” So upon our return, I decided to study the word “unity” from the biblical standpoint.
Often I get “hooked” on a word that I see used but rarely in the Scriptures, and I enjoy looking through concordances and commentaries to determine the full meaning of this word. Recently, I noticed such a word was underlined in my Bible in Colossians 2:5. That word in English is “ORDERLY”. I had written in the margin the word “discipline”. To quote the full verse, Paul says to the Colossian Church, “I delight to see how ORDERLY you are and how firm is your faith in Christ”. (emphasis mine)
“As a young man, (I’m 22, living at home, but in my senior year at University) I am in a dilemma. Everywhere – at home, in school, on the job, or on the street – someone else is telling me how to live my life. At the same time I am required to fulfill a lot of responsibility. I don’t seem to have any authority at all. Tell me please, how do I fit this into God’s plan for maturity in my life? How do I learn to exercise authority without having the experience of being IN authority?”
As I continue to share with you regarding manliness, please think of it also as that state of MATURITY that has taken you out of the condition of childhood or boyishness into the grown-up man of God that you are meant to be. Paul spoke on many occasions to Timothy, calling him “my SON“. However, he later addressed him as “brother”. At one point he told Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because of your youth…“, and shortly afterwards he told this young man, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.“
While I was jogging this morning, I was running over in my mind Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Having tried awfully hard in the past to obey his command and knowing constant failure, I began to pray in the Spirit for some understanding as to how the Father would have us approach this word of Jesus, which is probably his rendering of the Leviticus 19:2 command, “Be holy as I the Lord am holy.”
What’s happened to TIME? Where has TIME gone? It seems to have disappeared! We have instant breakfast, instant coffee, instant multiplication, instant re-plays…supersonic jets, hurrying Honda-bikes, instant entertainment, drive-in churches, high-speed toys, and we STILL don’t have time! Rush to classes. Rush to fellowship meetings, racing to be on time for engagements…well, not more than 5 or 10 minutes late.
“The FRUIT of the SPIRIT is PATIENCE.”
But I must act NOW! I don’t have TIME to WAIT for tomorrow! All of a sudden in the last 20 years, we’ve lost our sense of time. “I can’t complete what I am doing, because I’ve got something else to do.”
A question in the mail: “As a young man, (I’m 22, living at home, but in my senior year at University) I am in a dilemma. Everywhere – at home, in school, on the job, or on the street – someone else is telling me how to live my life. At the same time I am required to fulfill a lot of responsibility. I don’t seem to have any authority at all. Tell me please, how do I fit this into God’s plan for maturity in my life? How do I learn to exercise authority without having the experience of being IN authority?”
As most of you know, Sally and I were a part of a [ministry team] which the Lord sent. . .to Zambia in southern Africa. After sharing in the second largest city, Kitwe, all our team was flown by small missionary plane run up to the uppermost, northwest corner of the nation to a place called Mwinilunga. On the grounds of a Bible school out in the “bush”, plans had been made for a “General Bush Conference.” We got into the compound a day early, and already 4,000 to 5,000 Africans had gathered, where the plans had been made for only 3,000 people. Before the conference began, this number had grown to almost 7,000 natives.
Recently we visited in a home where there were two small children who, between them, had a roomful of toys of all descriptions. But amazingly, both of them wanted to play the same toy at the same time. That’s an honest childish way of demonstrating the same thing in a more subtle way among “adults”. Failing to confront this type of relation between brothers at an early age, allowing each one of them to “please himself”, sets a pattern for life that will repeat itself over and over again. In all the relations that this “adult” enter, whether family, social, or business, there will be that high “stone wall” that will bring separation and produce very unsatisfactory relationships. That’s the “warfare of the world”. And it’s coming upon the people of God from every direction. Brother vs. brother relations in the world today are open warfare!
There are far more people who are physically equipped to play football than those that are playing the game. But only those who are TRAINED make the team. Successful players ARE successful because they were trained into a new life-pattern – a new set of moves, a new set of habits. So in the potentiality of parenthood, we must see our responsibility to bring out the POTENTIAL-in-GODLINESS which is built into ALL of us, WE must recognize that GOD’S GENETIC CODE, which He meant for us AND our children, was written into His Son Jesus Christ.
For the Body to BECOME MATURE, the individual members must BECOME MATURE. All of us have been given gifts to administer to the Body of Christ. It’s as we mature that these gifts – which are the GRACES OF GOD – bring forth in maturing, multiplying power the fulfillment of God’s purposes and plans for the Body of His Son in the earth in this time. So the Lord has structured the Church – the assembly of God’s people – in such a way that the ongoing maturity will be constant. In the human body – to which Paul likens the Church – the ending of any function of any part will bring sickness to the total body.
6. UNABLE TO THINK THROUGH. God has given to EVERY person the ability, privilege, and right to think his own thoughts. The functions of the brain are designed to follow intelligent thought-patterns. We should be able to move our thoughts along a path of orderly ideas. An example of this is in an instructional letter from Paul to the church in Thessalonica (5:15-22): a) “. . . be kind to each other”; b)”. . . be joyful always”; c) “. . . pray continually”; d)”. . . give thanks in all circumstances”; e)”. . . do not put out the Spirit’s fire”; f)” . . . TEST EVERYTHING”; etc.
Jesus said, “He who is not with us is against us”. And in line with that, Paul said, “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid. which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the “DAY will bring it to light”.
7. OUR OWN CHURCH. These things I am telling you about are in no order of importance, and one of the most important functions going on here at The Inn is the regular meetings of the Franklin covenant Church, of which Larry and I are elders, along with . . . Pastor Robert Enloe. The Ministry of The Inn is actually an outreach from this church, and all the people within the body make major contributions to the activities here. As a staff for The Inn, we have never had a salaried people serving. It has always been a cooperative effort of all those who are a part of the church. The church is a group of home-cell groups who meet regularly each week. Then the entire body comes together every Sunday morning for worship, fellowship, and teaching, as well as to receive the ministry the Lord is raising up at that time. We trust that we are becoming what Paul said the church at Thessalonica was supposed to be: “A model for all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia”.
You see, the world’s attitude is “bring pleasure to your SELF. Satisfy the flesh”. The Bible calls that “OUR SINFUL NATURE”. Paul tells the Christians in Rome, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their MINDS SET on what that nature desires. But those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their MINDS SET on what the Spirit desires” (emphasis mine). That is visible in the sexual relation between a husband and wife, but we need to see it in simpler ways BEFORE we commit ourselves to one another in marriage. Our lifestyle is established in our more youthful years: “I get out of bed when I want! I eat what I like! I keep me in a condition that pleases ME”. Or you may watch TV as much as the average America. If so, you may have developed a low regard for FATHERHOOD, since this form of “entertainment” is constantly demeaning the male parent and the husband. And this false value continues to color your attitude, even though you are now a Christian, trying to live a life that’s pleasing to the Lord.
I’ve never understood why so many alcoholics, who hated this trait in their parents, became alcoholics themselves. You would think they would never . . . touch a drop of booze, having seen in their childhood the devastation brought into their dad, as well ass the entire family. But something went wrong. Something changed! It wasn’t the alcohol that was inherited; it was that “intangible” something that was amiss deep inside the man.
Now if we know anything about the “philosophy of the world”, we know it is based on HUMAN TRADITION. It is a religion called “secular humanism”, and the society of our nation, especially in the fields of education, science, and government have adopted this humanistic philosophy. It is so strong and subtle a force of influence through these agencies that most of us are not aware that we are still carrying its precepts into our lives as we seek to live out our Christian faith.
2. UNCONTROLLED THOUGHTS. The phrase “a double-minded man” means a “two-souled man”. There’s no such thing, but since the beginning of time, man has mixed into his mind the idea of God and the idea of satisfying himself though the pleasures of the world in his own flesh. Romans 1:21 says, “. . . although they knew God, they neither glorified HIm as God nor gave thanks to Him; but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened”. The mind cannot go two ways at the same time, so it waffles back and forth from God’s command to the pleasing of the flesh, the OUTWARD EXPRESSION of SELF. Thus, no concentration, no peace, no satisfying of yourself. But the Bible says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You”.
In the same way, his accusations, his deceptions, and his confusions are all lies! But who’s to expose him? ONLY THE TRUTH! And that’s JESUS! The Bible makes it very clear: “The reason the SON OF GOD appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). And Jesus told the people, “I am the LIGHT OF THE WORLD”. Paul says. . . , “He [the Father] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the SON whom He loves”.
3. FAMILY TRAINING & COUNSELING. Larry Pons and his wife Susan, along with their four young children, will have been at [CTCI] for five years in September, and they are doing a grand job! This is a many-faceted operation, and they cover the responsibilities in a beautiful fashion. One of the most important works the Lord has brought our way is this: we are seeing God bring men and their entire families into The Inn for several weeks, and sometimes months, for the purpose of rekindling the fires that have been dimmed by time and circumstances. Often, these men are filling very important roles of responsibility in their local churches. In the complexity of their many responsibilities and the pressures of today’s family life, they often find it difficult to hold on to the vision of what the Lord has called them too. Thus, many are finding it helpful to have the opportunity to come under a discipline of retraining, rethinking, and re-hearing from the Lord, under the watchful eyes of the staff here at [CTCI]. This has turned out to be a very significant work, meeting a great need in the Body of Christ.
Now, let’s look forward a few years and hear the instructions of Paul to Timothy, a young disciple who was being trained for leadership in the church: “Timothy, God did not give you a spirit of fear (timidity), but a spirit of POWER, of LOVE, and of SELF-DISCIPLINE” (emphasis mine). . . . What a combination! And Paul said to TImothy, “Timothy, YOU fan into flame this gift of God! This grace was given us IN Christ. NOW, through His appearing, it is meant to be put to work. Keep this teaching, this pattern of sound teaching which you have heard from me. NOW, it’s yours! Guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit Who lives in us” (paraphrase and emphasis mine). We hear a lot about LOVE and POWER – and we love it! But we don’t hear too much about SELF-DISCIPLINE – and we don’t want to do, do we? But the combination is necessary.
War in El Salvador! War in Afghanistan? War in Lebanon! War in Poland! Terrorism in Belfast! War in Iran! Battles in Zimbabwe! Is there any doubt that the WORLD is in a STATE of WAR? And the tactics of the present warfare are as different as, well. . . , darkness from light! Listen to James swing his “big stick” [in chapter 4:1]: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battles within you?” (emphasis mine). The church is not only facing up to the world’s warfare, but she is having to face up to the battles within. James goes on to say in the verses that follow, . . . “You want something but don’t get it. you kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. . . .” Peter says TO CHRISTIANS, “Dear friends, be STRANGERS in the WORLD. Abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your soul” (emphasis mine).
“For You did form my inward parts: You did knit me together in my Mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).
In His plan for all Mankind, God established a marriage covenant for man and woman. He commanded them to “Be fruitful and multiply”. And there was developed a single cell within man’s body which joined together with a single cell from woman’s body, and “the two became one flesh”. Thus, you were formed – knit together – by God’s Plan. Gradually, those two cells which had become ONE multiplied for several weeks, and a new person (YOU) were made a fully developed human being. Virtually all of your physical attributes and much of your behavior was written into the genetic code by these two cells becoming ONE.
Yes, now the Devil is working from the inside out! The Devil HAS joined the Church, but his participation is so subtle that very few of us recognize him for who he really is. Hs disguise is so perfect that he usually looks like and “Angel of Light”. Often he’s hard to tell from one of us.
“DO NOT CONFORM ANY LONGER TO THE PATTERNS OF THIS WORLD, BUT BE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND” (Romans 12:2, emphasis mine).
God does not control the minds of His people! Man’s mind and will are sovereign to Man. “CHOOSE THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE. . .” (Joshua 24:15). Every promise, every command, every gift written in the Bible is for you, BY YOUR OWN CHOICE. God gave us our minds and our wills, that we could and would choose His way of life and benefit. It’s a command! “BE TRANSFORMED BY RENEWING YOUR MIND”. However, He put His Spirit within us “to lead and guide us into ALL truth” (John 16:13, emphasis mine). But we have the initiative! We must act out of our own will.
Frankly, I don’t want to write about Satan, but I am constrained by the Lord to do so. I was reading in a magazine just this morning about the subtlety of Satan in this present-day world. The writer spoke of “the disappearance of the Devil”. Quoting Baudelaire, he says, “the devil’s cleverest wile is to convince us that he does not exist”. Actually, Satan is quite happy for us believers to picture him as some far-fetched boogeyman, dressed up in a skin-tight red suit, with horns and a tail with as evil leer on his face. he does not want us to know the truth – that he “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
It had been a busy day, and Jesus was exhausted. It was late evening and crowds of people had swamped Him with their needs. He said to that special group of His disciples, “Let’s slip away to the other side of the lake”. So they took Him along, just as He was – no change of clothes = and put Him on board a small fishing boat. He walked directly back to the stern, dropped His parcel to the deck, and stretched out on a cushion and went to sleep. The disciples had hardly got the boat under way when a furious squall suddenly arose, and the waves began to break over the bow as it plowed eastward. But in His weariness, Jesus kept on riding in the stern, asleep on the cushion.
God created family for the fulfillment of HIS plan. HIS purpose, HIS pleasure… Man’s family was to be God’s instrument of preparation, of training for His people to learn how to live in fellowship with Himself and His Son… In the unfolding plan of God, the family of man is a most vital link.
One more! LOVING vs. GOSSIP. Why is gossip such an attractive thing to the human personality? It is a strange way of relating, isn’t it? James says in [chapter] 3:9, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and FAther, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing”. We walk up to a brother and say, “I love you in the Lord”. Then when we are with someone else, we say gossiping things about him. Wow! That’s really being DOUBLE-MINDED! Again, the problem is something within our-SELVES that we need to face. Probably, we have a very low image of [ourselves]. Or we are carrying . . . rejection for one reason or another, and we build [ourselves] up by tearing down a brother. We salve our hurt by hurting another.
There are few absolutes in the world. I know of only a couple: the WORD of God, and GOD HIMSELF. In almost everything else, there is the constancy of change. Autos were developed as a mode of transportation. Now they are either a toy or a status symbol. Football, baseball, basketball, and tennis were games to play for fun and exercise. Now they are business, used to sell all kinds of products. Our houses were the abode and meeting place for “family”. Now they are hiding places and entertainment centers for frustrated individual spirits [who are] searching for “reality” and not finding it. The social mores of the people of America are radically different from that which came forth in the settling of this land [only] a short 200 years ago. And the system of law under which we are governed is a far cry from where it was just 50 years ago.
And in all this, God is seeking to bring us to the realization that we who are the Body of Christ must come into some radical change in our own personal relationship with Him. So, the problem of being a double-minded person must be faced candidly and openly. In Colossians 2:8 Paul warns us to “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of the ‘world’ rather than on Christ”. Now, that is one of the most pertinent things the Bible says about the day in which we are now living. Human tradition , or HUMANISM, as it is known today, simply says, “Do your own thing. Follow the world’s viewpoint, and have more fun! You can be a Christian and still be the beneficiary of the world’s concept of Life”. But Jesus says, “NO!” Straight from the shoulder, James fires this salvo: “YOU ADULTEROUS PEOPLE, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God?” And for emphasis he adds, “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an ENEMY of God” (James 4:4).
One of the “Guidelines for Parents” [that] Sally and I give in our teachings is this: SET HIGH STANDARDS EARLY. A standard of behavior is meant to eliminate DUPLICITY. Being double-minded causes young people to seek to follow two sets of standards – one for inside the home, another for outside the home (out in the “world”). Christian men and women must work diligently to eliminate that latter set of “standards” and the resultant relationships.
God’s Word to me personally, a long time ago, was, “YOUR LIFE IS MY MESSAGE TO THOSE AROUND YOU”. In the establishment of the first church in Acts 2:46, Dr. Luke says, “Every day they continued to meet together . . . , and they broke bread and ate together with gladness and SINGLENESS OF HEART”. That word “SINGLENESS”, in the original language that Luke used in writing this account, has a very clear meaning: TO ELIMINATE DUPLICITY!
Because of our NATURAL background, namely that “we are, by NATURE, children of wrath”, we must recognize that we still often find ourselves dealing out of two personalities – “THE OLD MAN” and “THE NEW MAN”. Since the devil was and is the “lord” of the “old man”, we absolutely must give top place in our “new man” to the RULERSHIP of Jesus, our LORD. Well, praise the Lord! The Spirit of His Son, the SPIRIT OF OBEDIENCE, dwells within us. Let’s allow Him to set our standards AND our patterns (our LIFESTYLE), as we seek to move towards the ONE SET OF STANDARDS He gives . . . us in His Word. And again the Apostle James says, using that unique phrase, “PURIFY YOUR HEARTS, YOU DOUBLE-MINDED”. And then he adds, “Humble yourSELF before the Lord, AND HE WILL LIFT YOU UP! (emphasis mine). Yes, we take the first step AS AN ACT OF OUR WILL, and God’s promise is that HE will bring us to “maturity” as we become SINGLE-MINDED!
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Number 37, March 1984.
All the members have been given gifts, a call, and authority to exercise those gifts. But they must be under someone’s control; otherwise there will be chaos. Thus, as the Church, the Body of Christ, is growing up and maturing into what she has been called to be and do, all the functions of ministry must be under the rule, the government which the Lord has set in place. Sometimes, there are restraints prematurely put upon the flow of ministry. But we have to remember that everyone in the church was a rebel, and that characteristic has not been totally removed. We still want things “our way”, to “do our own thing”. We haven’t put way childish things. But both forms of authority are given, that we might all come to maturity. So Paul tells Timothy that a man must manage or RULE his own household well and get obedience and respect from his own children. At home or in the church, ministry and rulership both must be established. A very simple principle evolves within this distribution of authority: “The more effective the MINISTRY is exercised, the less GOVERNMENT is needed. So, top priority should be given in ministry.
. . . in the closing words of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus told His disciples, “ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth has been given to me!” (emphasis mine). In His prayer to the Father in John 17:2, Jesus said, “For you granted [me] authority over all people”.
Paul says in Colossians 2:10, “. . . you [we] have been given fullness in Christ who is the Head over every power and AUTHORITY”. So all authority comes to man from God, the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son. Thus, Jesus Christ has AUTHORITY over ALL authority. For example, in Matthew 10:1, “He called His twelve disciples to Him and gave them AUTHORITY to drive out evil spirits, and to cure every kind of disease and sickness”.
The children of today’s young adult generation will be the source of the leadership for the people of God. That generation will also supply the leadership for the people of God. That generation will also supply the leadership for governments, the educational systems, and all other institutions of the world. We must be aware that the present generation of the PEOPLE OF GOD – THE BODY OF CHRIST – has an immense responsibility. We must determine who will train, or disciple, these kids: Society? Our educational systems? The State? No. None of these!
In another one of his great letters to the churches, Paul told another body of believers they needed to have a mind-transformation. In Philippians 2:1-4 he said, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being LIKE-MINDED, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Not only are we to take our mind off the world, but we are to “save the mind” by getting our thoughts off ourselves and onto other people around us. Paul, using the same language, tells Titus to “encourage the young men by being SELF-CONTROLLED. In everything set them an example.” (Titus 2:6-7a). It’s the same Greek language Luke used when he reported that “Legion”, having been delivered of the many demons, was”clothed and in his right mind.”
Headlines of the day: “Mt. St. Helens Erupts Again!” “One Million Ethiopians Face Starvation!” “Soviet’s Expected Wheat Crop of 230 Million Tons Reduced by Weather to 180 Million Tons!” “Daily Rate of Abortions in the 1,000’s!” “U.S. Dollar Declines Again on World Market!”
Now, there is one more thing: believing that we have a great High Priest, an intercessor – Jesus Christ, seated at God’s right hand. We hear Jesus say something like this, “Now, Father, you hear what Jay is asking; release it to him, in My Name.”
If we pray the way Jesus told us to, we will pray to the Father, “in Jesus’ Name.” “The Father will give you whatever you ask IN MY NAME,” Jesus said (John 15:16). But then He says, “In that day you will ask IN MY NAME. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No. The Father HIMSELF loves you because you have loved Me AND HAVE BELIEVED that I came from God” (John 16:26-27). What is Jesus saying? I think He is trying to get our identity with the Person of God, the Father settled into our spirit, by clearly defining to us who He is as He relates to the Father, and who He is as He relates to US.
In working with so many young-adult Christians who lacked a lot in living a disciplined personal life, we have come to appreciate more and more the short Epistle of James. In this short letter, he shoots straight at the target in a way few other writers of Scripture used. Some of his jibes are uniquely different, and often, the words he uses show up nowhere else in the Bible. One of these unique words in the original Greek is “dipsuchōs”.
No other writer of Scripture uses this word, but James chose to use it twice, both in 1:8 and in 4:8. It is a combo of “dis” (meaning “twice”), and “psuchē” (“a soul”). In other words, a DOUBLE-MINDED MAN is a TWO-SOULED man.
Psalms 23, a passage this city boy has read 1,000 times, now takes on a new reality for me: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…..” Out of all the gods on the face of the earth, Jesus is the only true God fit for the job of being a shepherd. A few of us at The Inn have realized that taking care of lambs is not like playing catch with your dog. Rather, being a shepherd requires an intentional and large investment of time and effort.
I cannot recall the number of times I have watched this short video. It has become, and probably will remain, one of my favorites over the years. The Christian will always wrestle with the balance between faith and works, I believe it to be a necessary wrestle in order to continue growing in both of them. The Christian life is to be a life of obedience, but it is an obedience that comes forth from faith.
Take ten minutes and enjoy this clip. May our doing always be from a place of faith. There is no greater power in this life for long-lasting, pure, natural Christian labor than the love of God.
May it serve you as it has me over the years!!
Of all things I am most grateful for teaching me to see Jesus in the Old Testament. This week (April 14th-22nd) is Passover week, the first of the yearly holidays commemorating the story of the Exodus, where God freed Israel from the slavery of Egypt. Passover is one of seven holidays appointed to remind Israel of the work of God. These holidays are His-story, God’s means to reveal Himself to His people. First to the Jews, but also to all that would believe.
I am the Lord…
During every Passover celebration four cups of wine (or juice) are used throughout the seder meal to symbolize four distinct promises made by God to Moses and the people of Israel (Exodus 6:6-7). These four promises are true today for all that believe in Christ. They are promises that Christians should know and claim, temporary promises to Israel, eternity promises for Christians!
#1 The Cup of Sanctification
“I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” -Exodus 6:6
The Exodus of Israel begins with their slavery. Israel had grown mighty in numbers, so mighty that the King of the Egypt feared them (Exodus 1:8). It was within this time of slavery that God revealed Himself to Israel.