Debt of Love

Courier – Love God and love people. Jesus said that these were the greatest law. I have alot of trouble with the latter. Some people are simply difficult. They’re total opposites and I have a hard time figuring how to love them. Sometimes I think that others will have a much easier time reaching out to them. The problem is that If I’m to really love God, I have to really love people, all people.

I’ve been reading “Bring ’em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for Those Wounded by the Church.” There are many names for them, the chronically wounded and needy, the un-churched, the happy athiests. God’s law of love requires that we would love the best and worst of them as we would ourselves. There will always be some people who are inexplicably mean and almost unlovable. Yep, you’ve got to try to love them, too.

1 John 4:19-21, tells us that, ” 19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Kinfolk. I may have trouble loving people, but my heart is with my family. I have alot of family out there, hundreds of brothers and sisters in the faith. I don’t know all of them and just like family, I might not get along with them all. Sometimes I’d rather ignore some of them here and their for their annoyance of me or for ignoring me. (Funny thing, if they’re ignoring me, how would they know that I’m ignoring them in return?) This isn’t the way that the family of believers ought to act. Our love ought to come from God and pour out through us into the lives of people around us, saved or not.

A poor reward, Indeed III

The Prosperity Gospel and Word of Faith Movements are two of the largest teachings taking Christiandom by storm. In its wake, many Christians are wondering how to deal with the damage. Both teachings promise that by either monetary faithfulness or vocal faithfulness you can attain wealth, health, and whatnot. They have found many a Bible verse that could support what they have to say, but do not have much overall reguard for the Bible’s point on the matter. Richness of faith is better than richness of posessions, it is easier for the poor to have richer faith than the wealthy.

When I say it’s a poor reward, it is. If you get everything you ever wanted on Earth, where does that leave you? Most people have lost about a third of their retirement wealth, hundreds of thousands have lost their employment status, and so many have lost their homes. Natural disasters, man-made disasters, and thieves can do a lot of damage to the things we posess. In the natural course of time, our things will eventually break down. If your reward is the greatness of your wealth and all that you own, it is a poor reward.

What bothers about these movement is more of what they don’t teach. When we undergo discipline it isn’t because we didn’t give enough or we said something incorectly, its because God wants us to be faithful no matter how bad things get. I was taught that if we don’t get it the first time, God will be more than happy to repeat the lesson until we do learn it. Because it is at that point where we do move on and become more mature in our walk.

While researching the basics of both movements, it was mentioned that they were both heavily taught by most big name televangelists. Some were worse about it than others, but elements of these teachings were present in their sermons. The biggest danger in Christianity is to stop following Christ and to take up after other Christians.

We just aren’t told how rich faith itself can be. We’re told what it is, how great it is, and how people got themselves into the hall of faith. I’m telling you, Rahab isn’t in that list because she prayed and she prayed and was given a fortunte 10,000 gold pieces. The people aren’t in there because they gave everything away to get it all back and then some. Moses isn’t in there because he took half of the royal treasury and gave it to the ministry of his favorite preacher. Joseph isn’t in there because he prayed for three months and got a much needed coat. Jacob, Issac, and Abraham didn’t name and claim horses and houses. Noah, Enoch and Abel aren’t in there because they gave away nearly everything and prayed until God rewarded their faith with whatsoever they desired. So what remains then, if you get your reward on Earth?
 
Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

What do we hope for? Jesus’ return more than anything else.  What are we certain of? Jesus, even though none of us have seen Him. Now that, is a great reward.

A Poor Reward, Indeed II

Word of Faith (also known as Word-Faith or simply Faith), is a teaching movement kindred to many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and individuals worldwide. The basic doctrine preached is that of salvation through Jesus Christ and what that “Salvation” entails. It is based on Jesus of Nazareth’s teachings concerning the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven and the state man can receive through the atonement and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This state of new being or creation (Found in the Biblical passages 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15 (Spirit, Soul and Body) can be received only through faith in the Word of God.

It diverges from traditional Christian denominations in that it emphasizes speaking, stating, or confessing verses found in the Bible, called the Word of God. The belief is that if one believes the Word of God and confesses it then the believer shall receive what they confessed. This act of believing and speaking is described by Jesus of Nazareth in Mark 11:22 and 23. The term itself “Word of Faith” is derived from the Biblical passage Romans 10:8 which speaks of “the Word of Faith that we preach.”

“What I confess, I possess.” becomes  “Say it; do it; receive it; tell it.”

The Word of Faith teaches that complete healing (Spirit, Soul, and Body) is included in Christ’s atonement, and therefore is available here and now to all who believe. Frequently cited is Isaiah 53:5: “By his stripes we are healed.” and Matthew 8:17, which says that Jesus healed the sick so that “it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the Prophet, ‘Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses’.”

Because Isaiah speaks in the present tense (“we are healed”), Word of Faith teaches that believers should accept the reality of a healing that is already theirs. Accepting this healing is done by confessing the verse or verses found in the Bible declaring they are healed (i.e. Word of Faith). It is not an act of denying the pain, sickness, or disease, but an act of receiving the gift mentioned in Isaiah 53:5. According to adherents, sickness is an attempt by Satan to rob believers of their divine right to total health.

Word of Faith teaching holds that God wants His people to be financially prosperous, as well as have good health, good marriages and relationships, and to live generally prosperous lives. Word of Faith teaches that God empowers His people (blesses them) to achieve the promises that are contained in the Bible. However, most Christian theologians view these teachings as heretical.

The recent trend is to include financial success within the definition of “prosperity” but not to limit it to financial success. Thus, good health is “prosperity in your body,” and a good marriage is “prosperity in your relationships,” etc. Financial success as a definition of prosperity would not be considered incorrect, merely incomplete.

Within the Word of Faith teaching, a central element of receiving from God involves “confession”. This doctrine is often referred to as “Positive Confession” or “Faith Confession” by practitioners and “Name it and Claim it” or “Blab it and Grab it” by detractors.  Noted Word of Faith teachers have argued that God created the universe simply by speaking it into existence (Genesis 1), and that humans have been endowed with the ability [power] to speak things into existence. Thus, making a “positive confession” (by reciting a promise of Scripture, for example), generates power which enables things to come into fruition. This teaching is interpreted from Mark 11:22 and 23.Word of Faith preachers have likened faith to a “force”.

Likewise, according to Word of Faith teaching, “negative confession” can yield negative results, and hence believers should be conscious of their words. This is argued on the interpretation of Proverbs 18:21: “Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and they that love them will eat the fruit thereof”, also Numbers 14:28 “…saith the Lord, as you have spoken in my ears, so will I do” among other scriptures.

– from Wikipedia

A poor reward, indeed

Comic Sans MS – Prosperity theology is a religious teaching that God desires the material prosperity of those he favors. Material prosperity in this theology emphasizes financial prosperity but success in relationships and good health should also be expected. This material favour may be preordained, or granted by God in return for correct faith significantly evidenced in the “faith”, attitude and obedience of the adherent. It been the target of debate within the Christian community.

Other terms have been used interchangeably with prosperity theology such as prosperity doctrine, health and wealth, etc. but it is perhaps most commonly referred to as the Prosperity Gospel.

Prosperity theology is not the same as Word of Faith theology, though most, if not all, Word of Faith teachers hold to some level of prosperity theology.
Following are some Bible verses used by Prosperity teachers to support their theology:

Deuteronomy 8:18 – “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (New American Standard Bible).
Malachi 3:10 – “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.'” (New American Standard Bible)
John 10:10 – “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.” (King James Version)
3 John 2-4 – “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers”
Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Biblical criticism includes:

1 Timothy 6:7-10 – “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Matthew 6:19-21, 24; Luke 16:13 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Luke 18:22-25 – “. . . it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
1 John 2:15 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
1 Timothy 6:3-5 – “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”
Matthew 19:21 – Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
1 Timothy 2:9 – “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
Proverbs 22:16 – He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

– From Wikipedia

Priceless

Century – What is the value of a life? Any life? Would the value of a guilty man’s life be worth less than that of an innocent? Would the value of an old life be worth any more than a young one? Just what is your life worth?

It’s one thing that is easy to note about most movies. When it comes time to pick and choose, women and children are to be saved first. The elder will often give up his life to see the youth live. In the real world, things are not as clear-cut as they should be. Fortunately, the cost has been paid for all lives.

Jesus was by all counts innocent, but he recived the death sentence in a travesty of justice. Thanks to that very same travesty of justice, we the guilty, get our sentences commuted and our shackles removed. That is, until the court date. As I recall, there are two possible dates that we will appear before the court. One is with all the living at the end of the world. We will be divided into one of two groups. The first group will have their innocence recognized. The second will pay the price of their guilt and be sent away very far south.

The other court date is among the deceased. All who have ever perished will stand before an immense white throne and will be judged according to their deeds. Those whose names are not found in the Lamb’s book of life will also go very far south. As for the others, they will walk freely in the grace and kingdom of God. If you miss one court date, you’ll be at the other. It’s not possible to skip out on both.

The value of a life is the blood of the Son of God. This price has been paid for every life on earth that was, is, or ever shall be. It covers over the sins of guilty and it makes them innocent. It will do the same for an old life as it would for a young life, it would make them both new. This is the price that was paid for your life. 

Seriously, God?

Candara – (Thanks for all your help comming up with names for the new puppy. We agonized for hours over all the choices and now we’ve come to a decision … Presenting our very own Jericho!)

Male #3

 

Isaiah 8:11-22

Fearing God is two-fold. Fear as in genuine quaking in your boots and fear as in an intense love only for God. I’m afraid that people don’t have the fear for God that they used to. In this passage, it refers to the genuine quaking sort of fear. Why should we be afraid of our God and His track record? He flooded the world when he could only find one righteous man. He sent ten plagues upon Egypt. He allowed his own wayward people to go through devastation and discipline, eventually scattering them among the nations of the world. He raised up kingdoms to destroy other kingdoms and has destroyed their gods and idols. God does not change, it was always his plan to send Jesus as a perfect sacrifice.

Yet, it seems people choose that place and say from here on, things are different. ‘God won’t send plagues or cause war among men.’ These people cannot explain the book of Revelation. They say that its symbolism was fulfulled with Nero or that it was written in such a way that it can’t be understood today. The Old Testament is his track record, Revelation is what He will be up to very soon, and most of us aren’t afraid.

This suggests that not many of take Him seriously as a God, the God, our God. I hear stories of terrible things that are done in the names of various false gods and how zealous others are for their false gods, but the battles that we as Christians choose are more of defending our causes than our own Causer. We’ll follow the good news of prosperity and words of faith movements. Look, things are pretty bad out there. Did we seriously expect that all of America would live in righteousness until He came back? If we are to follow Jesus, we have to want what He wanted. Sure, some of us can have our causes, but let us not forget to focus on the sinners who need the Great Physician’s care.

Ministers

Cambria – (We’re keeping one of the puppies and we’re having a tough time comming up with a good name for him. His is an American Boxer. His father’s name was a mafia name and his mothers name came from a song, Bugsy and Molly, respectively. Nothing seems to fit, and we’ve tried: Mugsy, Louie, Roman, Jesse … and most other name we could think of. What are your ideas for a two-syllable name?)

Just like there are parts to a body, the parts of the church may have different jobs that are no less important. While you can walk on your hands, that is what the feet were designed to do. While toes can learn to grip things, fingers were made to do just that and more. Some churches will emphasize one misistry over another, but a healthy body and a good church will have a balance some of them or all of them:

Seek and Save The Lost Ministry: One of the ones that are usually emphasized. Pastors often tell their flock that it is their job to witness to everybody unsaved around them.

Missions Ministry: Also emphasized, it’s primary focus is to go to places where  few Christians are and to tell the people about Jesus.

Service Ministry: Sometimes an outlet for putting the youth group’s energy to good use, it is not as emphasized but is found in many churches. Members are asked if they need help that the group might be able to manage. They’re supervised as they pull off everything from landscaping, to moving, to general cleaning, and maybe even small building projects. Sometimes service projects are carried out oversees in a sort of service/missions ministry.

Meals Ministry: Also in many churches, this ministry usually provides a week of dinners to the house of a member who is ill or has gone through surgery.

Sunday School and Wednesday Evening Ministry: Almost a church standard, no two churches operate this program the same way. Sometimes they throw in breakfast or dinner, but not always. It’s main purpose is to teach the Bible.

Babysitting Ministry: Most every church has set up a place for the kids to play during church services. It is one of the many behind the scenes jobs that allows members to worship without much interruption.

Music Ministry: Also in most every church, these are the guys who will play either modern songs or beloved hymns during church services. Their music alone can bring in people or repulse them. It’s one of the more difficult ministries as most every musician expects much out of themselves and each other as they play for the people and for God.

Youth Ministry: This program may not be emphasized, but it should be treated with care. The youth are the future of the church and Christianity. It deals with helping the youth as they grow to deal with the problems that face them. Helping them to understand the Bible and how it applies to them personally. Teaching them that it is honorable to follow God’s instructions in a world that allows the opposite.

Elderly Ministry: I’ve seen this program in few churches, but we would do well to remember our brothers and sisters in the faith who can’t leave home or retirement center to join us. Why not spend an afternoon letting them know that they are remembered and missed?

Bring Them Back Ministry: Once we left the old church, the pastor visited once to ask what was going on. Since then we’ve heard nothing. Too many churches allow people to walk out the door and don’t follow up to see where the problem lies and if it can be resolved. There are Christians who are too hurt by the church to want to attend any church. Let us not neglect their fellowship and hope that somebody would care enough to come after us should we be in their shoes.

Prayer Ministry: Sometimes in the form of prayer lists or prayer chains, the needs of the members are brought attention to all and prayed for. Sometimes a ministry of people who pray are brought together. These warriors are ready to bring before God any concern you might have.

I’m certain that there are more ministries, I just can’t think of any more off-hand. At any rate, there is a ministry that fits you somewhere. Just what has God laid on your heart? The young children? The youth? The elderly? The lost? The absent Christians? You were made for a ministry, something that would bless you beyond reasoning to be a part of. So next time that you hear one ministry emphasized over another, ask yourself which one is just for you.