Baptism at Singles Retreat - 147 Baptized!!!

*******************Baptism at Singles Retreat 147 Baptized!!! ***********************

* Sharing times in the Word and looking for growth. Let's Commune Together!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The school of life even requires tests!

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 3:10 These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.

Application: What does it mean to be tested? Sadly, far to many times the only testing that goes on is head knowledge. Be sure, that is important! Anyone that is going to be involved in ministry at a leadership level needs to know the Book. Our knowledge of the Word of God is essential in enabling us to properly guide and give counsel. However, our God is always concerned with the whole person. An individual that has a lot of head knowledge but who's character has not been proven can do a lot of damage as a leader. This is why good discipleship is so important in the Body of Christ. Spending time with each other, learning about God, keeping each other accountable, always proves the character of the individual. It takes time to observe maturity, and that is why in leadership there should not be individuals that have little or no life experience to go along with their head knowledge. The Word of God is the validator of Truth, not experience, though experience is where the practical application of truth takes place and we see Godly wisdom in action. This is why both must be in the formula of developing leadership. Leaders need to know what You desire Lord and how to help others put it into practice. Only through time in growth can those skills be developed and proven. 
Even many churches today only look at education degrees when considering calling a Pastor. That is why there are so many local Churches in trouble and splitting in our communities. If they raised disciples and groomed them to be leaders they would have Pastors from their own local Body that have years of proven character. Far to many times elders at churches are appointed for the wrong reason, popularity, family power in the church, politics, their alive and no one else will do it! You deserve Lord to be offered the best from all of us, which includes the leaders we follow! We need to invest the time and effort to seek the young men and women that are willing to be trained and tested, not haphazardly appoint unproven, or unwilling individuals into leadership just to fill gaps in our Church. Father, teach us to proactively look for those that the Holy Spirit will use as leaders, help us choose leaders that are really following You, not their own reasoning’s, or logic, even if it seems to make sense. 

Meditation Questions: When you feel confident to give counsel, what is that based on? What is the danger of allowing experience to be the standard for what is true? Is there a problem with head knowledge only? What is it? What is the best way to test leaders? If you have someone leading you into a difficult situation, what do you them to possess? What happens when your experience is not validated by Scripture? What do you do about that? Is faith based on subjective truth or objective truth?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A leader with no credibility is only a leader in title!

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 3:8-9 Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, 9 but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

Application: " Not double-tongued" - this speaks directly to our credibility. Once again we see the importance of a clear conscience! This passage challenges us in specific areas of life that, if not watched over, could lead to the defiling of one's conscience. Notice: Dignity - brings a serious tone to a person's life. This is not being a snob; instead, this is never losing the conscious awareness that we are never outside the battle. Whether in ministry, fellowship, family time or even vacation, we never lose sight of the fact that we represent Jesus Christ 24/7.  Can people trust and count on the integrity of your word? If we are sharing with them “the Way to life with God”, how can they believe us if our word in other areas is not trustworthy? " Addicted to much wine" - interesting that Paul chooses wine on this issue of moderation. Moderation is the real issue here, being mastered by anything other than God is a bad thing. Wine is the perfect example because it takes very little to loosen the self discipline for anyone. But we need to be careful not to over look  or blow off the point of this statement because we may not drink wine, it could be sweets, food, exercise, TV, you name it. The issue is do we control it or does it control us? 
Lastly, "fond of sordid gain". A major stumbling block in the Body of Christ today sometimes considered “one of the acceptable sins” in this age of televangelism! If I was searching for truth and was watching a lot of the "superstars" in the church today I would believe they care a lot more about money than God. It is a sad commentary on the church today, though not surprising. The enemy has always looked for ways to get the tares in among the wheat. This shows us why it is so important that we leave no question in the mind of others that we share the Lord only because we love Him, and desire all to know of His wonderful offer of a relationship with all that would come. There should be no question of any other motive. I have been a ministry for 31 years now, more than half of that as a self support missionary, Never, and I mean never have I had to be concerned over my needs being met. As I share the Lord with all I know, asking for nothing in return, He has supplied all my needs. We need to focus on who we are, and let Him focus on how we live.

Meditation Questions: When you give your word, do people write in down in INK, in PENCIL or they don’t write it down at all? What does that say? How do you represent Christ in all you do? Is there anything that has mastered your life? Habits? What are you doing about those? How much do you think about money? Do you use the “things” in life or just collect them? What’s the oldest “techy” thing you own? How new must all your stuff be? By what you own, is it clear you own it or it owns you? Which statement do you think you live: Money is to have and God is to use, or, God is to have and money is to use?  

Monday, January 2, 2012

Leadership is an inward thing!

Scripture Read:  1 Timothy 3:1-7  It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Application: In Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, in Book 3, Chapter 8 “The Great Sin”, there is an incredible chapter on pride, worth the time for every child of God to read. It is only a few pages long, but has a lifetime of wealth in it. I highly recommend it. Nothing is more dangerous than pride and Paul knew that and here warns about what I call “Harvesting before maturity”. Paul states that an elder should not be “not a new convert”, why? When someone very young in the Lord is lifted into a position of prominence and authority, it can very easily go to their head and they can be lifted up in pride, which Paul describes as the sin of Satan. When we think “we’re all that” a fall is just ahead. Young believers need to learn the danger of their flesh, learn they can fall and be restored. Even Apollos in Acts 18:24-26 had to learn temperance: "Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived in Ephesus.  He was an eloquent speaker,well-versed  in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and with great enthusiasm he spoke and taught accurately the facts about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak out fearlessly  in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately”. Apollos had to learn to show love and follow leaders and submit to those in authority over them. This is healthy and leads to a natural growth that makes them better leaders later. 
The last issue Paul brings up is very important if the Body of Christ is to have the impact on the world as the Lord desires. An elder needs to have “a good reputation with those outside the church”. Although, this is true for all believers, it is most important for the elder. Many leaders in the church can become callus to the world because they are around believers so much. They can begin to focus only on how to help their flock and treat unbelievers like they are second-class humans! Nothing is farther from the truth or the heart of our God, and nothing is more desired by the enemy. If an elder has a bad reputation among unbelievers, a very important bridge has just been torn down. Remember, if you have an unbelieving friend and are loving him toward Christ, when he comes to church and sees an elder with a bad reputation he has experienced or knows about, because he is a terrible neighbor or some other such thing, you will not see that friend return! We must remember we represent Christ to those that do not know Him, we may be the only Bible they ever read! As God calls us into leadership, we will see many blessings, but we must be conscious of the truth from Luke: Luke  12:48… From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Meditation Questions: Are you in a hurry to become a leader? Why? Do you see the movement of time as a way to become prepared to do what God has made you for? When someone below in position, disrespects you, what do you feel? What does that show? If your name is left out of a recognition of something you were a part of, what do you feel? What does that show? When others are honored and you are not, what do you feel? What does that show? What would those that know you, but don’t know Christ, say about you?