(Taken from work on my current doctoral dissertation)
Our first part of Concerns for Un-Biblical Worship centered around the improper perception or perspective of who God is. The second part focuses on the object of our worship no longer being directed toward the God of the Bible but rather on man.
1 Peter 4:11 cautions us that “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Concerning the exegesis of 1 Peter 4:11, the context is in regards to preaching. This is an aspect of the ministry that cannot take away from the attention given toward God. Preaching, spoken by man, must give glory to God through Christ Jesus. The word “oracle” here is logion. “This word refers to God’s written revelation. The ministry of preaching must be confined within the bounds of God’s inspired Scriptures. And this should be done according to the power, ischuos, which God supplies. The supreme aim in preaching is to glorify God through Jesus Christ. When Christ is proclaimed in His power and glory, then God is glorified.”
Many preachers approach the pulpit lacking a sense of reverence and humility, but instead, as if the gift and calling bestowed upon them was of their own volition, preach with the subtext of God, but implicitly (or at times explicitly) claim the power as their own. It becomes a stage to introduce and showcase the wonderful talents, skills, knowledge, and intelligence, masked by the intent of preaching the Word of God for the purpose of the congregation’s edification, when in fact, the preaching is done to excite, motivate, inspire, and direct the emotional appeal of the lay person toward the one preaching, yet done, “all in the name of God.” When the preaching is given so that the attention is directed toward a fallen person, in need of a Savior, as opposed to the God who saves him, it is no longer Biblical.
How often do we come across preachers who bask in the glory they receive from their congregation members after preaching? Unfortunately, there are those who step off of the pulpit looking forward to the admiration given to them by their respective laity. It is what fuels them, inspires, motivates, and encourages them to continue “preaching” to others, as opposed to the sincere desire to bring glory to God by preaching His Word and edifying God’s children.
(Picture taken from http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/thumblarge_314/1222459336H79UV3.jpg)
 Isidro Annotated New Testament, p.454
It is simply unbelievable, (yet believable) that there are those in this world who sincerely claim to be followers of Jesus Christ and believers in His Word and yet apply and teach it in only a way that bears subjective reasoning. Too often have I read, heard, and seen of pastors, preachers, and other church leaders who claim that their revelation comes directly from God Himself.
News flash: There is no longer any DIRECT REVELATION.
God reveals Himself to us in His Word, not through dreams, visible manifestations, or audible voice that “speaks to us,” and that “our spirit hears.” The idea that God has selected some to exclusively hear His Word while the rest of us are kept in the dark has us inching closer and closer to that other world religion that has its leader speaking Ex Cathedra. Why can you hear Him and not I? Are you more selectively chosen, more of a light, more of a salt than I am? What makes your salvation greater than mine? Have I not accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior? Have I not been born again? Have I not been imputed righteousness? Do I not also believe that salvation is by grace through faith in Him, not of ourselves, lest any man should boast?
Why did God choose you, not me? Sounds more like a reformed faith to me rather than some selective relevant, revelation of grace.
If anyone claims to be a believer in Christ, follower of God, and obedient to the Word of God, yet claims direct revelation, the most basic, fundamental argument that they are making is this: “I need to hear directly from God because HIS WORD, THE BIBLE, IS NOT ENOUGH.”
For anyone to make this implicit claim does not believe in the veracity, inerrancy, and complete inspiration of the Scriptures. God has given us everything we need to know in His Word. This “New Covenant” does not revert back to the “Old Covenant” when God dealt audibly and directly with His followers through voice and anthropomorphism. Again, defining this as a “New Covenant” in any manner subjects it to a post-modernistic opinion that it is your own subjective truth, that this is what you believe the New Covenant is.
I understand it appeals to the masses. I understand that it brings more attention and glorification to the one claiming it. People appeal to the emotional aspect of faith, hoping to create an experience of tears, goosebumps, and “Spirit-moving/slaining.” I also can claim that God spoke to me and garner hundreds if not thousands of followers by following it with miracles that are spoken “in the name of Christ!”
But I’ve read, heard, and researched others who have claimed the same thing, as if they came in the name of God only to divert from the truth of apostolic theology. And I know of one more who will come, sit on the throne of God, and commit the abomination of desolation, claiming to be God Himself.
Are these modern day individuals so far from them? Haven’t the apostle’s spoken out to the churches in Asia Minor, Ephesus, Corinth about the false teachers that have come, not only from outside the church walls, but those who will come from within? Who is keeping these people accountable, especially when others reach out to them, feeding and stroking their ego, believing that they are truly preaching and teaching the apostolic theology of the Word of God?
It’s hard enough to fight against the principalities and powers, against the various other denominations and ideologies that teach that Christ is not God, He is not Savior, and that there are other various means to salvation and to God. Now we have to fight against those who claim to be His children as well, but distort and interpret the Word of God only as they see fit?
As the apostle John told the church, we truly are in the Last Hour.
(Photo taken from http://www.cowichanfamilylife.org/counselling/images/anger2.jpg)
I suppose it’s time for some reflection. It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything on In Deed In Truth and it’s not for lack of content. I’d even hate to pawn it off on lack of time. But reality is reality. Can’t fake the funk.
It has been a ridiculously insane 2 months. The beginning of autumn was a progressive, forward thinking, looking toward new and exciting developments, time of the year. On August 7, 2009, we welcomed our second daughter into the world. The last 3 months has been filled with diapers, wipes, breast milk, screaming newborns, screaming older sisters, and not nearly enough time to cultivate and nurture the marriage between a husband and wife. Up’s and downs. In’s and Outs. Kriss and Kross… don’t it make you wanna jump, jump.
Not only did the Lord give me another beautiful baby daughte, but my secular full time job maintains its consistent demands as well as the church in Pasadena, CA. Unfortunately, many things had to take a back seat and the last 6 months has forced me to prioritize big time.
I’ve tried to maintain the level of activity with Events For Christ, but my family, church, and work has demanded more of my time and attention. As much as I wanted to keep EFC going and growing, it was just far too difficult. But things are starting to slow down and get into a nice rhythm. EFC seems to be back on my radar and I can’t be more excited. Thank you to all those who continue to encourage us with your support for Events For Christ
Not only is EFC back on my radar, but a brand new ministry movement has pushed itself to the front of the line. The Road to Peace is a new ministry that the Lord has placed on my heart and I’ve obliged to undertake. Starting with a rally this month, a conference in January, videos, pictures, books, t-shirts, sponsorships, collaborations, and the sort spewed about, needless to say, not much else has found its way into my schedule. I have a team of 4 individuals with another 4 consultants. It’s God’s providence that He doesn’t allow me to feel how big this may get. We are the US division. We already have a South African contingent. Sometime in 2010, we’re hoping to be able to travel internationally and bring this movement overseas. (We’re looking into penetrating the Philippine market starting in 2010 as well.) Big ideas. An even bigger God.
Speaking of the Philippines, a little birdie told me that there’s a need for my presence in Forest Hills, Cebu City, where the main organizational ministry is located. As vice-chairman of EL International Church Inc, it’s important for me to be in the midst of all the goings on of EL International. Lord willing, we’ll be opening our elementary school next year, continuing the construction of the building, attending to the details of the library, and adding more components to the computer lab. Not to mention the 7 additional congregations that are currently planted. There’s a congregation in Valenzuela city, PI that is still without a pastor but diligently worships and serves weekly.
As busy as I think I am here in the US, I know that things are 100 times more arduous and hectic in Pinas. It helps me keep things in perspective.
My older sister warned me earlier this week of the work load that I’m carrying. From her viewpoint, being the sole provider of my family and carrying everything else is unhealthy and hazardous to my heart. A myocardial infarction might be in my future. I pray that it’s not.
All in all, as busy as my days, nights, weeks, and weekends may be… as overwhelmed as I may potentially feel, I’m having fun. I’m doing what I love to do, which is serve the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I don’t feel like I’m wasting any of my talents and gifts because I’m just focusing on giving it back to Him. It brings joy to my heart.
And as long as my daughters rush to the door every time they hear me and usher me into my home with open arms and wide smiles, welcomed to a family based on love and support, God’s goodness is revealed to me every single day.
And I challenge God…Can it really get any better?
(Picture taken October 2009, Keilah Naomi at Finkbiner Park in Glendora, CA)
A while back, I remember having a conversation with someone at an event. Our conversation was going quite well and we were discussing many issues of the ministry. Mid sentence, he stopped me from talking and asked me if I could take a picture of him and the speaker for the evening, that had just so happened to be within proximity of where we were. At that moment, our conversation ceased as his conversation with the other person began.
What am I to think? Obviously what I was saying wasn’t nearly as interesting as what he could be talking about with the other person. In retrospect, the look on his face as I was speaking made it look like he had mentally checked out and was just looking for an opportunity to ask me to take this famous photograph.
I can’t fault him for his actions. If you want to talk to somebody, then you want to talk to somebody. I just hope that I’m never the cause of a cancelled conversation.
Coming in a day and age where there is so much exposure, self made, man made with an ease of publicity, anybody at any time can become popular on many levels. Want to show your face? Youtube it is. Got something to say. Podcast. Afraid of exposing your face or voice? Get a blog. Anybody, anywhere can come out of nowhere and rise to prominence and fame. (Daniel’s little horn anyone?)
But just as everybody is going in one direction, hoping for that recognition, I’ve been spending the last few years, trying to stay away from the pull of popularity. (Even at this moment, this blog is read only by my family and a few friends. Though this entry may make me seem hypocritical, I assure you, my intent for this blog is not for popularity. In due time, it will be a vehicle meant for more theological, educational purposes).
As carnal human beings, there are insecurities that lie in wait. When others begin to feed our insecurities, the more we crave it. When others shower us with praise and push us toward celebrity status, it’s hard to remain humble. The enemy takes hold of any opening, and we begin down a slippery slope.
As a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, we should all be defined by service. I work, do the things I do, sacrifice, and toil because I want to serve. I want to serve because I was bought at a price. I want to serve because greater love has no man than this, than a man serve (lay down his life for) his friends. I need to serve… because Christ served me by dying for me. This act of service shouldn’t be done with attaining worldy rewards in mind.
Other pastors, preachers, teachers, speakers, evangelists, theologians, and clergy leaders may love the attention, crave it, and possibly handle it better than I could. Kudos to them. However, let’s not be mistaken. I’m not saying that ALL attention is bad. I just don’t want any additional attention that might tempt me to think of myself as anything more than a servant of God.
I’m not walking that path. Give me the path less travelled by. Let me walk the road marred by sacrifice and tears. Let me trod the trail that evidences no sign of celebrity compromise, blinded by the flash of photography.
And let me walk it with Christ leading me.
Picture taken from http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/paparazzi.jpg
I’ve always known that a true, successful leader is not defined by what they accomplish, but by what their followers accomplish. For more than a decade, I’ve been placed in positions of leadership. Is there such a thing as a natural born leader? I’m not sure. I’m leaning more to the notion that a leader is made, not born. All I know is that as a leader I’m still learning. And I’m confident that I’ll still be learning for decades more to come.
There are many leadership hats that I must wear. As a husband I must lead my wife. As a father I must lead my daughters. As a pastor, I must lead my congregation. As a project manager I must lead my team. There are many people to lead.
The difficulty comes in how to lead all these different people.
How I lead my wife is different from how I lead my daughters. How I lead one member of the congregation is different from how I should lead another member. How I lead one employee is different from another.
Every person is different. Every person has different buttons, different motivational hot spots, many insecurities, many talents, many strengths, and many different ways that they follow.
They are also detracted from certain types of leaders. How in the world am I supposed to figure out how each person is to be treated?
One person needs affirmation while another person needs scrutiny. Another needs structure while yet another needs freedom. People will all react differently to how I approach them. I’ve learned that there is no “cookie cutter” leadership. One leadership style will mesh with one while resent another.
So what must I do? Observe. Adapt. Understand.
To emulate the greatest leader ever to grace this world with His presence, Jesus Christ based His entire ministry on love.
I can talk to people differently, motivate them differently, criticize them differently, push them differently, educate them differently, instruct them differently, and overall lead each person differently.
But I must love them all the same.
Picture taken from http://www.chromasia.com/galleries/0701052111.php
Yesterday, in church, we studied the topic of loving one another as a commandment. There were many things that we discussed and many thoughts crossed through my mind. There was one, however, that we didn’t expound on too much, but stayed with me for awhile, even until now. I talked briefly about it with a few church members and one visitor, which evidences to me how I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Jesus Christ gave us the greatest commandment when He told us to love the Lord God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). As men and women, we strive to accomplish this. I’ve noticed many people giving their all to the Lord, hands raised to the heavens, singing their hearts out, constantly praising God and expressing how much they love Him. They reiterate it through their prayers, their songs, their verbal testimony, their preaching, and their social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and whatever else we get into. They really do love God.
But what about the second that is just like it? To love one another as oneself (v.31)? It’s interesting how people will be more than willing to show how much they love God and follow that commandment, but when commanded to love others, there’s no evidence of obedience.
What? Are we defined as Christians by how much love we show to God through our worship and church services? Isn’t it ironic that in order to show how much we love God, we do it, not by putting on a public display of adoration, but rather through genuinely loving others?
I’ve seen self-proclaimed Christians who will worship and sing, preach and teach and tell everyone how and why we should love God. But these same Christians will then ignore others who are unlike themselves. They will be unwelcoming, lacking the warmth of love when visitors enter into their church or their territory. I’ve seen Christians, attending other Christian events, (not their own) and lack respect by talking and laughing throughout the entire performance, displaying no sense of reverence for the message being brought forth. I’ve seen Christians who will love only those who love themselves. What good is that? Luke 6:32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”
Are we only choosing which commandments to follow? Do we have it in our minds that it’s sufficient enough to love God and neglect loving others? Do we think loving God and not others is good enough to pass as Christians in this world?
As Christians, sometimes we do well to love God with all that we have. But to love God with all that we have means to follow that which He has commanded us. If we really love God like we publicly display we do, then shouldn’t we also love, not unconditionally, but volitionally? Shouldn’t we choose to love others because Christ loved them enough to die for all of us? If we really love God, shouldn’t we love others enough to serve them?
Greater love hath no man than this… that a man lay down his life for his friends. Not martyrdom. Service. Greater love hath no man than this… that a man serve his friends.
Christ served us by dying for us.
For all those people who love to tell others how much they love God and willing to do anything for Him, are we willing to love God enough to love others? Enough with this, Pharisee-ical, Laodicean, hypocritical Christianity where we will only follow the commandments that we want to follow.
So looking around, who’s really a Christian? I’ll believe the one who will genuinely love others…
… rather than the one who says they already do.
Picture taken from http://gallery.photo.net/photo/5023830-lg.jpg