The Believers Bite Galatians 5:15

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15 But if you bite and devour one another,
watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Galatians 5:15-16

Tonight we enjoyed a fruitful discussion in God’s Word.  Drawing our thoughts for the lesson from the 5th Chapter of Galatians, we allowed the 15th and 16th verse to run the first leg of tonight’s’ teaching.  In our discussion about becoming better evangelist and witnesses for Christ, we find ourselves working on self that we might be more effective in efforts for Christ.

But first a pit-stop.  Paul addresses in this chapter an important part of Kingdom, its citizens.  He writes to handle issues that have arisen in the church, and with a stroke of the pen, corrects bad teaching and bad behavior. full burger

For today’s discussion, I presented to the group the illustration of a freshly prepared hamburger.  It exist whole, without a bite.  The burger, fully in tact consist of many layer, and holds in it a varying level of content.  In this, it is placed into our hands to handle as we choose.  Now of course, our flesh and stomach need and are designed to consume, but today we took our discussion to the Spiritual.

The first question asked was:  “How is a burger consumed?”

The answer of course is “One bite at a time!”  These bites can vary in size, ranging from small to large, they can come from any angle, can be taken in a short amount of time, or a long amount of time, but with each bite, that which was whole begin to disappear.  Paul wrote a warning to the Body of Christ, “if you bite” he warns, soon you will “consume…one another.”

The next question asked was: “Who have you taken a bite of?”

This is an important question.  As we hit the neighborhoods to bare witness bout Christ, we have found that many people have met Christ, but remain at home because they are suffering from the wounds of a bite!  They accepted the Gospel, but couldn’t get past the offenses committed by His church!  I know, they are immature! That’s what you are thinking!  They have a fake faith built on man, and your faith is built on God.  They don’t have enough Word in them?  Right?  Get over yourself I say!  Mature or Immature, healing from wounds takes time, and some bites are just fatal!  Infection set in, and death follows.  And yes, you would probably say that its their fault, right?  It’s their fault they are offended, right?  They should simply forgive and move on, right?

Paul warns us, bites take away from us and lead to consumption.  Someone are simply being eaten alive by those who are in the fold and not walking according to the flesh.  People have perished in our ministries, and some who survived, are holding on to life by a thread.  This brought out a sad reality; many of the people entering our churches are half eaten. halfeatenburger

That’s right.  Those entering your church from previous church homes are sometimes lead to new fields, and other times are escaping hurt and looking for healing and peace.

Why is it you ask that a person can leave after one offense?  Ahh, you said they were immature, but the reality is that many of them were suffering from prior bites, and are just trying to keep from being completely consumed.  And then we foolishly judge them for protecting themselves, and label them to protect our own ignorance.  Our bites are often made worse by those who are not remorseful.  Yep, its that important that we treat each other right, because each person is in a different state, and have different experiences, and your encounter with them can be the difference between them growing in Christ, and dwelling at home alone.

In this day of social media and technology, our encounters with people are weighed even heavier in that many people have grown accustomed to experiencing the world via a video and even a blog.  The human factor is being removed and replaced by imogies and virtual reality, thus limiting the room for error in our encounters with one another.

Paul says while some suffer from “bites” others are “devoured”.

Have you devoured anyone? 

emptyplateThis word frightened me!  The thought that there could be one within our ranks who doesn’t fall from time to time and bite someone, but that in one or two encounters, shows a complete lack of restraint and concern for another and eats them alive in one or two sittings!  How is it that we can destroy those God has sent, stitching the bond of peace afforded to all of us through the blood of Christ and the unity of the Spirit!  Our lack of restraint towards one another can cause those in our midst not to question God’s existence, but if God exist in the place they have become a part of.  Let it not be said of you that you chased away someone that the Spirit draw-ed neigh because of your unwillingness to pursue righteousness and kill the flesh.

How many people have you devoured?  Who’s at home licking their wounds?  Who’s exploring different horizons?  Who’s falling away from the faith because of you?  Sadly, only God knows.  The reality is that most multiple offenders are just being themselves and don’t realize or acknowledge that they are “biters” dare say I “consumers.”  Shame to say, this “consumer” mentality exists in the house, as we jockey for position and protect our territory, and fight for a light that is the glory of humans, which is the glory that fades.  We shine our light not to lead, but to blind people with judgement, and are eager to condemn others, while pardoning our wickedness and justifying our actions.

Paul says, don’t “gratify your flesh”!  Yep, there is nothing good within us, and every once in a while, the desire to bite happens.  The old man fights his way back in the picture and begins warring for control of your limbs.  He plants thoughts in your mind as to how you should respond, and how you should act, what you should say, and how it should be said, but Paul says resist!  “Walk by the Spirit” he says.  Control that which remains dormant in you by continually submitting to the God that is in you!   Just because you have the thought, doesn’t mean you have to follow its suggestion.  It’s just that, a suggestion.  Unwise counsel given from an unwise source, whom desires to wound as many as he can from fire within the camp.  The devil hinders the growth of the Kingdom through those of us who continue fulfilling the desires of the flesh, allowing the old man to once again lift his hands in victory.   Yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit and allow His guidance to keep you from biting and devouring your fellow brother and sister.  Kingdom depends on it!

 

#PastorJDO3

 

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Build up the Kingdom!

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So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And what you heard me say in the presence of many others
as witnesses entrust to faithful people who will by

competent to teach others as well.
2 Timothy 2:1-2

Paul writes this letter to Timothy as instructional and encouragement for a young minister.  This letter as with the others are very important as it models something captured in verse 2 of this second chapter.  Mentor-ship, or Discipleship as we call it in the faith has a very important role to the life of the church.  It could be argued that the demise or death of the ancient church or has been a lack of not only evangelism, but discipleship which has left our church without A. Leadership B. Mature Saints  C.  Members.

Paul says to Timothy this important tidbit, which will also be key not only to the growth of the ministry, but will aide him in being an effective shepherd and leader.  Paul advises him to “entrust to” “competent” (some say faithful) people.

For the Men’s Conference at our home church, this passage was used to direct a message to the men of the Kingdom of God.  The message, God’s Kingdom needs men who the Gospel can be entrusted to, and men that will be competent to teach others.  This is a call to discipleship and evangelism.   soldiearmor

Though the passage is not gender specific, I felt the need to challenge the men to study to show themselves approved.  To press forward the Kingdom agenda by challenging men to grow in the faith that they might be deemed by their Pastor one that can be entrusted with the Word of God and Kingdoms Agenda.  The growth of God’s Kingdom will hinge on the amount of disciples that are willing to commit to Kingdom purpose.  We are calling for and crying out for the heads of houses to take a step forward to lead their families and to press to return to being leaders in our churches, rebuilding and fortifying our families and modeling the structure intended to combat the agenda of the world to unravel our family structures.  We don’t need undependable men, we need men that can be counted upon!  And not just financially.  We have run into a generation of people who feel money solves problems!  Money doesn’t spread the Gospel, its the Faith of those that commit to sharing God’s truth that draws people near via their testimony and fever for the truth communicated through the Gospel.  Transferring money into an account will not save people in other countries.  Someone has to open up their mouth and declare truth that the Gospel might be heard and faith might be achieved by conviction of the Holy Spirit.  We need committed men!

Furthermore, we need “competent” men.  I love how this is written.  Paul says to people who “will be competent”.  This is true in two ways.  1.  We need people who are Competent Now!  2.  We need people who will be Competent in the future!

First, we need men who have already been diligent as a soldier.  Our churches are hungry, desperate even, for men who have sought righteousness and sought to fortify themselves with the learning and applying of scripture to their lives.  We need men who have decided to dedicate themselves to walking daily with God, not chasing the things of the world and identifying themselves with worldly possessions.  Paul says find some people who “will be competent.”  We must find men that are dedicated to applying the Word of God to their lives like Balm!  We must be saturated in the Word such so that it flows like the anointing and favor we pray for!  That it becomes such a part of us that we teach by living, not by speaking!  Our lives should be so aligned with God’s Word, that our life is just the Cliff Notes, and our Mouths serve as study guide.  We need competent men!

Second, we need men we are willing to become diligent warriors.  Our church needs an infusion of men who are willing to get serious about their faith!  We need a generation that will cast down their nets, dock their boats, sale their possessions and follow Him!  We need men who will but down the magazines and log off the website, crack the spine of the Bible or Double Tap the App and immerse themselves in pressing towards the mark that has been set for us!   We need men furthermore that will submit to leadership.  This is key in both circumstances, but even more so in this one.  These men must be willing to be prepared by their Shepherd to become the vessel they are capable of becoming for the benefit of the Kingdom.

In both scenarios,  we find Paul telling Timothy that He must search for these people and model the example that Christ set for the Apostles, and the one that Paul imitated with he and others.  Yes, we also need men that are willing to be Mentors!  We need men who will engross themselves in not only reaching the mark, but will prepare others as well.  Our Lord took the time on earth to select some men that he found could be entrusted with the Gospel and would be Competent in teaching others the truths He gave to them.  The spread of the Gospel hinges on this.  Developing others that can be carriers of the Word, and not being the sole authority or carrier of truth ensures that the Kingdom will continue to grow and live beyond the days you have been given.  There are people that the preacher/pastor will never meet, that are beyond their reach and life experience, but that are accessible to those that sit under the weekly/daily teachings.

BodyLogoIn conclusion, I think it interesting that many of our fraternal organizations have practiced a principle that our churches might need to take a hold to.  Its Numbers verses Men!  The value of our churches is not in the numbers, but in men, in real discipleship!  Lord forbid that our Greek and social organizations uphold a standard and the church find its knees weak, compromising intake and  wavering on membership requirements, declaring all active despite their walk and actions.  We too must build and uphold the standard God set, not excluding those from entering, but holding all accountable who enter to the standard of the Most High!  To answer the question, “Yes we need to build up the Kingdom!”  But building up the Kingdom is not about numbers and buildings, it’s about the members in the Kingdom being stronger.  If we will continue this model, the future of the church will not only be great in numbers, but stronger in mirroring the image of Christ.  Having strong believers is a premium, more than having a large numbers of weaklings.

#PastorJDO3

 

…We used to be Just as Annoying as the Jehovah’s Witnesses…

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Today I was blessed to have a conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness while our networking for my home church.  It was refreshing and confirming on many levels.  In the dialogue, I asked him about church home and salvation, he said he “I recently returned to being Jehovah’s Witness….”, and that he worshiped at a Kingdom Hall and gave the location.   I asked him, “Why did you return?”His answer was detailed (could write many other blogs, but chose to write just this one) but simple,

“Each Saturday, they go out to neighborhoods from 9 to 12 noon, and knock on doors just like Jesus said to do when he sent out the 70.”

I smiled!  I thought to myself, “We used to be just as annoying as the Jehovah’s Witnesses! (This is not an insult, but a tribute to one, and shame to another and a call for “soul searching“)”.

I thought about the days of our early church bodies, in which we had groups that regularly went out to knock on doors and bare personal witness about Christ and the change that He has made in our lives.  I felt convicted!  The door knockers we send, flyers we mail, media we invest in, all fall short of the power and effect of the personal testimony.  “Why did we stop?”

The last time I felt this way was in Virginia, when I purchased a Final Call and a Bean Pie from a Muslim man on the corner (Yes I PURCHASED ONE OF EACH!)  As I sat there watching him back in the 100 degree weather, I wondered how many Christian men I could get to stand outside in full black suit, a white shirt and black bow tie, and counted 2 maybe 3 (I wasn’t one of them).  I would have requested that we make a short set to wear!  I thought then, “What has happened to us?”

We used to be soldiers!  We were warriors!  We wore out the soles of our shoes fighting for souls for the Kingdom!  There was a time when we weren’t on the corner just to raise funds for our ministries!  There was a time when people heard that morning knock and thought it was us, but some where along the line, we either lost our zeal or decided that we didn’t want to be a nuisance, offensive or yes; annoying.  Or maybe we developed an intolerance or grew allergic to rejection, or didn’t feel qualified or prepared for defending our faith?  Maybe we have just become too prosperous?

I’m just not sure!  But I do know one thing, We Need to Be Just As Annoying as the Jehovah’s Witnesses!  People need to get sick and tired of us knocking on their doors, ignoring the no solicitation signs on the neighborhoods, interrupting our Saturday cartoons, College Football, Car Washing and Yard Work!!!!  People need to run inside and hide behind their couches, knowing that the People of God are going to swing through and ask them the question, “If you die tonight, do you know if you will spend eternity with God, or burn in hell’s fire?”  “Do you know Jesus Christ? “Have you believed His death accepted His blood provision for your sins?”

I know this doesn’t apply to every ministry, but it applies to some.  I am aware that times have changed, and that people are different, and that we must adjust our methods.  There are many things we can argue need to be changed about our modern ministries, but our personal witness will never be one of them!

(Knock Knock)

#PastorJDO3

Race; The Final Frontier

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One of the most popular televisions shows to grace the screen, was the great Star Trek. She show captured the encounters of the crew of the Starship Enterprise which explored space, encountering new places, people, perspectives and predicaments. Each week, the smooth music would come on, accompanied by melodious voices, and the vocal accounts of Captain Kirk which spoke, “Space, the final frontier.” Since then, we have seen many space explorations, and gathered much data about the world that surrounds us.

After the recent shootings in South Carolina at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, it is time to began looking at the Kingdom of God, and to address the final frontier left to explore; race. Yes, Race; The Final Frontier.

Now, I know what you are thinking! We all love each other. Yes, we truly do. There are many places where all races worship together. Yes, there truly are, but there is a reason that Sunday mornings have been labeled as the most segregated hours in the world. Though many churches have broken the barrier, there are still many that hold on to race as a dividing factor, not excluding people with laws and regulations, but not ministering to and or meeting the needs of those that do not look like the majority, preach messages that are discriminatory in root and deed, take stances that are more political that prophetic and or not friendly or receptive to those who walk through their doors, and thus they never feel safe behind their walls.

Rendering of a waving Christian flag with accurate colors and design and a fabric texture.

Rendering of a waving Christian flag with accurate colors and design and a fabric texture.

This is a church issue, not aimed at once race or color, we must all open our eyes and our hearts, and treat each other like a brother. Honestly, we act like distant cousins three times removed. We will attend a rally together because its like a family reunion, but as for each week, we choose to go our separate ways, and make decisions as islands that present messages that are opposite to what our words say. Our deeds are far from inclusive, our words remain exclusive, while the Gospel that we preach stand opposed to our actions and vocals. Think it not prophetic that Gods command was to go to “all nations“. And that Pentecost occurred not only when the people were “all together in one place” but when there were visitors from over 10 nations gathered as well. Not only where they gathered, but the Holy Spirit made them speak in the language of the persons they encountered.

Jesus was a barrier breaker! He stood above the foolishness of segregation and discrimination, eating and serving everyone, reteaching the Kingdom of God to man by redefining us all as brother and sister, and neighbor. He served as an agent to bring us together, not section us apart. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit brought unity. He aided in teaching all things, and bringing not just power, but peace, enabling us to think and to act as Christ did for the sake of bringing glory to God and people into the Kingdom. We are to be unifyer!

Of course you ask, what does this have to do with the shooting? How does this relate to the 9 lives taken? Well simple, we are to go forth and make disciples. On both levels, whether this man is a non believer who needs to be introduced to Christ, or whether he is a man filled with prejudice, we as a church have to be carriers of the message of Christ, which was filled with love and truth. Though our past presents pockets of genuine hatred, and has left us soaking and stewing in a pot of hurt, distrust, and stereotypes I still believe there is a Balm! There is a balm that can and will heal if and when it is applied.

Thus, Race; The Final Frontier! Once and for all, we need churches that will join this journey of exploration! We must continue until churches are just churches. We must press forward until there is no Black church, White church, Hispanic church…….. We must get to a day when there is church. A place where it can be said they are “all together in one place”. A place where people will say, they are “all together on one accord“. A place where it can be said “they had all things in common“. Yes, a place where it an be said, “they are completely one” so that the world can truly “know that you sent me”. This place, that was God’s intent.

It is time for the Kingdom of God to set out on a mission to “explore strange new worlds”. It’s time for us to seek to further understand each other. We must make the effort to study the differences, and to appreciate the many facets of all cultures not to correct them and to show them our way of worship and praise, but to see how others interact with the Lord and in some cases, bring home what we have learned in an effort to expand our forms of expression to the Lord. We must cease to see ourselves as having the sole ownership on right, and to acknowledge that what we see as civilized or orderly, might be perfect for another possibly even to you.

It’s time for the Kingdom of God “to seek out new life and new civilizations”. It is the season for Kingdom, not for church! The Kingdom is beyond a building or a Non-Profit Organization. Kingdom is about seeking uncharted areas and establishing those who have yet to meet the King of Kings! It is an effort to cover the globe with disciples of The Most High! Its a planting effort, that includes established portions of the Kingdom, to pool resources to establish new places for people to gather, and not just efforts to build membership for oneself.

In sum, we must “boldly go where no man has gone before”. We must work to show the true love and oneness of God, being willing to change our perspective of those from a color to a Kingdom! When we move to acknowledge citizenship, the foolishness of skin tone will be a thing of the past. Our Kingdom can advance and lead the charge that breaks down environments that encourage and breed hatred, as opposed to ones that sit silently in support, not addressing those outside and inside our walls that harbor these un-Christlike thoughts! We must stand united not just in word, but in deed, standing against injustice that happens to anyone. Our voice must be unified, and not one that trembles with fear. Truth is truth! “I will hold you accountable for their blood“, I believe God is screaming from the heavens, for all those who know what is right, and watch those perform sinful unjust acts. God holds those of us, not just in the pulpit, who know that we are in error accountable for what we know, but also for sharing with those who are still acting in ignorance. If you know, It is time for your to speak up! And be bold about it!

#PastorJDO3

Scriptures featured in bold and italics in blog.

Kingdom or Medom…Kingdom Killers

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Recently I read a blog that inspire much thought (3 Little Letters). In short, it talks about three letters, S.D.G., that Bach would begin and end all of his compositions with; which translated means Glory to God alone.

I replied to this post “…even in our desire to be used to do great things for the Kingdom is a little self that must be shown the door.”

One of the many travesties I have witnessed in my own existence is the effect that ego and self have on Kingdom work. Upon reading this blog, I was taken back to my youth.

I had the privilege of being a part of a body of believers that was being used to do great things for the Kingdom. Buildings being erected, ministries booming, over flow filled each week, pulpit filled with sons on the ministry, front row stacked with leaders, other rows stocked with supporters. I have also had the displeasure of returning to the same place and finding the life has turned into ruins.

Later in life, I was privileged to attend a once great congregation, surviving on its rich history, name and tradition.  Sunday after Sunday, we watched as great preaching, yielded diminishing numbers, produced frustrated members, resulting in fights, power struggles, and rebellion.  All who attended could see that there was life in Christ, but didn’t find life among the congregation.  Able to sustain itself through the monetary contributions of a few faithful,  it continued on, with vacancy after vacancy in the pulpit, leaving the church in a constant state of unrest.

Shamefully, much like the God’s people, these congregations were restricted to wander, while the dinosaurs became fossils, to be dug up and studied by archaeologist whom were fascinated with congregations with such life became extinct.

Well, reading this blog yielded one word; EGO!  In both situations, one could make a strong argument that the churches became more Medoms than Kingdoms.  What began as a venture to bring pleasure to the King of Kings, became a Ego driven campaign for power, positions, popularity and prosperity.   Egos have no place in the pulpit or the pew.  The Bible says plainly, fall follows pride, and humbles those who are proud, choosing to exalt those who keep Him as the focus.

There is an “I” in Kingdom, but there is no “Me” or “My”.  The Kingdom does not belong to us; it is entrusted to us!  The “I” in Kingdom is merely the role we play to bring about heaven here on earth and not any sign of ownership despite our names on buildings, programs and signs.    Appropriately, found in the word “King” is the “I”, helping us see that we must remain in the King and submit to His will in order to continue seeing His Kingdom prosper here on earth.  We must remain committed to bringing Him glory; appreciative, but not consumed by the many cheers and applause given or accolades of those few confused that attribute the work of God to us because it came through our hands.

My prayer after reading the above blog  and writing this blog, is in life, Ego is always answered with Glory to God alone.

1 Corinthians 10:31