Determined or Narrow-minded?

Paul writes a facinating comment in his letter to the Philippians. As a Master Builder (apostle) he writes of himself: “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death…” (Amplified Bible)

To some, I am sure, Paul would appear to be very narrow-minded. To me it is apparent that he was single-focused. He knew what he was called to do and the role he was to play in the early Church. He dropped everything else that was just excess baggage; he removed anything that was contrary to God’s will; he released the good so he could focus on the best. Jesus said that anyone who placed his hand to the plow and then looked back was not fit for service in the Kingdom. (Luke 9:62) He placed his hand to the plow and did not look back. Ever!

But his focus was not specifically the ministry or the calling that he had received supernaturally from the Lord on the road to Damacus. That would, in most cases, be our focus. However, Paul writes and says that his focus – his determined purpose – was to intimately know the Lord whom he followed, served, and worshipped. That should be the true and only focus of all who follow the Lord.

Long ago I learned a truth – so long ago that I don’t remember if the Lord showed it to me directly or if I read it somewhere. It is based on Mark 3:13-14. It states that He called the 12 to Him who were to be called apostles and then “they were to be with Him that He might send them out to preach…” They were to BE first and then DO afterwards. They were to develop an intimate relationship with the Lord first – and then, out of that intimacy – they were to go out and minister in His power. The truth I learned early on was that “ALL MINISTRY ARISES OUT OF RELATIONSHIP”.

So, my determined purpose, single-focused approach in my Christian walk is the become intimate with the Lord – intimately acquainted – so that I know His Word, His voice (“My sheep hear My voice”), His will, His plans and purposes, His still, small voice… Then, from this relationship I can go out under His direction and minister according to His will.

This is not just for those called to one of the five-fold ministry positions (Ephesians 4:11). It is a calling on all believers. When a believer acknowledges their sin, repents with godly sorrow, recognizes and trusts in the fact that Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for that sin, and receives forgiveness so is born again – they are given a gift. Romans 6:23 states that “the gift of God is eternal life”. John 17:3 defines this gift that we receive: “This is eternal life, that they may truly know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent.” The gift is an intimate relationship with God the Father and with Jesus.

The word “know” in the Greek is the word for intimatcy or intercourse. So, we can have an intimate and close relationship with God (it’s a gift but you have to unwrap it) just as a husband and wife have a gift of intimacy in the marriage bed.

So, the first calling on all Christians is to to become intimate with the Lord. To ‘be with Him’. Then, as we hear His voice and know His will we can go forth and be faithful workers in His Kingdom doing His will as He leads us.

Then, on Judgment Day, we will hear: “Well done good and faithful servant”. We will not hear: “away from you you perverse and evil generation, I never knew you…”

Listen to the full three verses…
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

NOTE: “I never KNEW you” refering to an intimate relationship and the gift of eternal life.

Paul was not narrow-minded; he was simply single-focused and had a determined purpose. Not to build a ministry or the Church but to know Him who died for us while we were yet sinners.

That should be our focus and ‘determined purpose’ as well.

It’s about time don’t you think…

I think the Church today needs real disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ (true converts) who are willing to go anywhere and do anything the Holy Spirit tells them.

I think we need to take seriously the words of the Lord. He tells us we are to go into all the world and make disciples – assumes we are one ourselves – and teach these new disciples to “obey everything I have commanded you”. Well, we better know what it is He has commanded us to be and to do – and we need to be in the process of “becoming” and in the position of obediently following His commands (doing) otherwise it is ‘do as I say and not do as I do’.

It is time for the believers in North America to find out what they truly are suppose to believe as Christians and disciples of the Lord.

It is time to stand up for those beliefs and be willing to challenge our society with the truths of the Christian gospel. It is time for disciples to become bold (in the Holy Spirit) and to stop being intimidated by those in the world who speak with confidence and often with boldness and, in reality, speak nonsense and non-truth deceiving many about the spiritual world, the coming judgment, and life after death.

It is time for God’s people to be bolder than those who worship and serve either self, the world or the devil (or all three).

It is time to stand tall believers as true disciples of the Lord.

It is time to tell others of the night and day difference Jesus has made in your life. The Bible states: “You are the ones chosen by God…God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you.” (1 Peter 2:9 The Message Version)

It is time to remove anything and everything that prevents us from fulfilling the Great Commission – which may mean giving up the good for the best. The best? Simply doing what the Lord has told us to do. Like Him we must “be about our Father’s business of seeking and saving the lost.” (Luke 19:10).

It is time!

So this guy phones me and …

Just about supper time last night and this guy phones me. I knew who he was as he is in a class I teach on evangelism in another city. After the normal polite necessities he tells me he has just been visiting my web page for the first time and reading the first prophetic article on the Church in North America that I wrote 5 months ago when we launched this site. I thought, that’s good – someone actually reads what I have invested my time in writing.

He states that he agreed with everything I wrote and then, near the end, came upon the phrase “so the Lord would say” and then a paragraph that sounded like I was speaking for God. I was. It’s called prophecy. He admitted that this was not within his paradigm and wondered if I could help him understand.

This is neat – I mean this just floats my boat. I love it when a believer is so hungry for God that he is willing to take time to ask questions and think outside his normal parameters. I was taken a bit by surprize because this type of believer is rare and I had not met one in a long time.

The conversation wove in and out covering a number of topics – prophets, apostles, misuse of ‘thus says the Lord’, abuses in the Church, concern about what is being taught in the Name of the Lord. We touched on a lot of great topics in a short – too short – 15 minutes. He said he was being very cautious as he wanted to be sure it was scriptural – actually in the Bible.

I was thrilled. I mean – a thinking Christian who wants to question what he is being taught and check things out to both his set of basic Christian beliefs and biblical standards. As well, he is open to new things as long as they are biblical and don’t contradict the basic tenants of the faith. Exciting.

I assured him that he had the obligation and responsibility to check everything I was saying to the Bible and to test everything he hears to the Word of God which is, afterall, our only authority and the inspired Word of God.

I wonder if this is the joy that Paul felt when he found a group of people who listened intently to his teachings – revolutionary by any standard – and then went home and checked it out comparing it to the scriptures. He mentions the Bereans and holds them up as an example of what one should do when listenings to teachings and teachers of the Word. The Bible states in Acts 17:11 “…they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

A preacher / teacher’s dream come true. Someone seriously searching for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Someone hungry for more of God and all of God. Someone willing and eager to learn. Someone who asks questions and checks out the answers.

I’m having supper with Kevin and his wife Mary on Wednesday to chat further. An apostle’s greatest joy – a hungry and teachable disciple of the Lord Jesus.

The Church of Oprah

I am a listening to XM Radio due to the poor quality of regular broadcast stations in my area and the long hours spent in the car driving. On the dedicated XM station where Oprah and Friends occupy 24 hours a day on the airwaves there is now a church service. It is broadcast from The Church of Oprah.

Starting the 1st of this year Oprah has been spreading a false gospel and a false Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4) and thus false hope. I have listened to a few broadcasts over the last few months simply out of curosity as to what is attracting hundreds of thousands of listeners daily.

A friend of mine sent me an e-amil recently about his take on the show. In his observations he includes a few of the lessons and objectives of the overall 365 lesson course…

For example, Lesson #29 asks you to go through your day affirming that “God is in everything I see.” Lesson #61 tells each person to repeat the affirmation “I am the light of the world.” Lesson #70 teaches the student to say and believe “My salvation comes from me.” By the end of the year, “Oprah & Friends” listeners will have completed all of the lessons laid out in the Course in Miracles Workbook. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual mindset—a New Age worldview that includes the belief that there is no sin, no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything. A Course in Miracles teaches its students to rethink everything they believe about God and life. The Course Workbook bluntly states: “This is a course in mind training” and is dedicated to “thought reversal.”

Now, the concern I would have is that many who state openly that they are born again Christians are listening intently to her daily broadcasts and are believing everything that she is endorsing. They are buying in to the New Age teachings which include the following:

* There is no sin. . .
* A slain Christ has no meaning.
* The journey to the cross should be the last useless journey.
* Do not make the pathetic error of clinging to the old rugged cross.
* The Name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol… It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray.
* God is in everything I see.
* The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.
* The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your sanity and your limitless power.
* The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation.

We could say that these Christians simply lack discernment.

However, maybe what is lacking is the teaching of sound doctrine from the pulpits of churches in Canada and the United States of America. Maybe these so-called Christians simply attend church to have their needs met by others or to receive a weekly warm fuzzy leaving thinking that everything is alright with them and God. So, maybe the problem is not in what Oprah and her new church is teaching – but in what the local churches in North America are not teachings. Maybe we have tickled ears for far too long and it is now time to return to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Apostolic doctrines held precious by the saints over the centuries. Maybe it is time for the Church to stand up and be the Church once again. That will take changing what we focus on (buildings, budgets, and bodies) and will take guts because our message is one of declaring the sinfulness of man, the coming judgment and the need for recognizing our personal sin, repenting with godly sorrow, and humbly accepting the Lord’s forgiveness. No self-help, feel-good gospel here. No ‘just say a sinner’s prayer and everything will be alright’.

It is time for the Church to be the Church and like a ‘voice in the media wilderness’ cry out “repent, repent, repent”.

For more on this growing and very popular teaching as propogated by the Church of Oprah – go to: http://youtube.com/watch?v=JW4LLwkgmqA

Then, come back and leave a comment….

If it looks like a duck

An apostle is a strange duck. They think differently than the average believer. They function differently than prophets. They lack the patience of the pastors. They certainly teach as well as five-fold teachers and often it is hard to distinguish between an apostle and an evangelist as apostles love to talk to others about Jesus and the need to be saved from judgment and Hell.

An apostle is a strange duck. Apostles look past outward appearances (buildings, bodies and budgets) and look to foundational issues such as character, honesty, integrity, and purity. They look past the outward veneer and peer into the hearts of people (especially leadership) and see such issues as offences, bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentment that need to be dealt with. They are deeply concerned about the lack of fruit in the lives of Christians and whether Christians are really rooted and grounded in love.

An apostle is a strange duck. They are concerned with the doctrines of the Christian faith. What it is we are to believe – the basic beliefs of the faith “once deliverd to the saints (Jude 1:3). Heresies and apostacy are deep, daily concerns for them. They weep over the Bible illiteracy of today’s Church. They spot and confront false teachers and prophets and bring incorrect teachings into the light, exposing them for what they are. They often appear to be really picky and somewhat negative.

An apostle is a strange duck. They examine the DNA of local churches. They need to know the historic roots of a local assembly – who birthed the church, when and why? Then they want to know why the DNA has changed since the foundations were poured and who it was that brought the change – either good or bad. They are interested in the roots and the foundations – because they can see what God wants to do in and through the local church and yet it is not happening. So, they want to know why the church is stuck where it is at and what is preventing the sheep from being healthy. Because if the sheep are healthy the church will grow – healthy sheep begat more sheep.

An apostle is a strange duck. They tend to tear down so that they can then build up. They see that what currently exists will not be able to hold what the Holy Spirit is about to do. So, they are used by God to tear down what is (even when it is still good and has been built according to God’s plans for the past)so they can build what needs to be. They go right under the ground dealing with foundational issues – pushing out walls, tearing out cement, erecting new and bigger foundations. Afterall, you can’t build a skyscraper on a chicken coop foundation. So the foundation must change.

Yup! Apostles are strange ducks. However, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck – accept it, you probably have an apostle in your midst attempting to do what the Lord has begun to call them to do – as Jesus reestablishes this office and ministry in His Church.

Apostle’s blog

A warm welcome to my newest adventure – a daily blog. I’ll am using this space to comment or blog on varying subjects – everything from items in the news to current events in the Christian world – all from the point of view of a functioning apostle in the Church today.

You are invited to ‘jump in’ and leave a comment about the content being talked about. However, your comment will not appear on the blog right away. We have a delayed posting system so that we can read your content to be sure that it is appropriate and honours the Lord Jesus whom we serve. This delay is usually no more than an hour or so. Thanks for understanding.