Category Archives: Holiness

Trust in God from Genesis 12

In Genesis 12 we have the story Abram.  In my series Walking with God, I spoke about Genesis 12:1-9 because of the great promises made to Abram for following God by faith.  After all, Abram left everything he was comfortable with to follow Yahweh to a place that was still not clarified to him when he began to literally walk.  In fact, he was even able to get some people to go with him!

Genesis 12:1-9 is a great look into what it means to place all of your faith (hope, security, control, physical well-being, trust, and etc.) in an invisible God.  This is a great story since Abram lived in a time of great idolatry.  Yet, he heard God!  He heard God in contrast to those idols who cannot speak.

In Genesis 12:10-20 Abram doesn’t do so well.  In fact, all of that faith that he placed in God seems to be for a fleeting moment.  In fact, this is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to actual faith.  A famine broke out where Abram was.  Here is one of life’s circumstances that simply occurs beyond our control.  However, Abram’s stomach begins to control him because he decided to move on to Egypt so that he, and those who were with him, could find food.

In contrast to the earlier part of this chapter, where I bragged on Abram’s faith, Abram was not told by God to go to Egypt.  Let’s think about this for a moment.  Abram left to go to the land that God would show him and for incentive God made great promises to him and those who were to come behind him.  In my mind, to leave in the first place, I would have to literally trust God to take care of me and my crew.  Yet, that is not what we are seeing here; at least from my vantage point.

Listen, if God was going to do all that He said He would do, then why didn’t Abram simply stay put?  Abram’s earlier trust should have come across his mind.  God had assumed responsibility for him.  He should have stuck it out, but he didn’t.  In fact, he told his wife to tell a half-truth that she was simply his sister.  Abram told her that since she was beautiful, he would be treated well and spared his life because of her.  Wow!  Where did the trust in God go?  He now seems to think that between the abilities of Pharaoh and Sarai that will be saved.

Even more troubling is that he allowed Pharaoh to take his wife to be his wife.  It is good to remember that God is Holy.  John Oswalt once said, “God is Holy! He is Holy for our good and our ill.”  Even though Pharaoh seems innocent, God is just and afflicted he and his people.  This seems to be God’s Holiness that brought ill on Pharaoh.  Further more, Abram is accumulating wealth at the expense of his wife being wife of Pharaoh!  So now we have innocent people being hurt since Sarai was born too soon for women’s rights to help her.  Likely, she didn’t have a choice in Abram’s decision; not to mention what was happening to the Egyptians people for not fault of their own in this situation.

Remember the promises God made Abram?  Since we know the story Abram, who later became Abraham, we know that God promised him and Sarai a son.  Yet, later since God seemed to be taking so long in fulfilling that promise Sarai she offered to Abram her servant Hagar.  So Abram impregnated Hagar and had Ishmael.  Nevertheless, this was not the Promised Son.  The Promised Son was to be born 14 years after Ishmael.

We have to consider how Abram’s decision to go to Egypt impacted this.  Is it possible that Isaac, The Child of Promise, could have been born sooner?  There is no way to know for sure, but consider that God would not want any connection possible between Pharaoh and Sarai.  After all, Pharaohs generally thought of themselves as gods on earth.  And for sure, I can imagine the talk among those in the camp with Abram and Sarai.

If this assessment is possible, then how much impact does a lack of faith have on God’s people?  It seems that we can prolong the good that God has in store for us by not following Him by faith.  In fact, it seems best to remain in the situation that brings you struggle until you hear from God.  Famines that drive us to make decisions irregardless of God are meant to be a time of testing our faith.  We may find that when we continually try to escape uncomfortable situations that we are demonstrating a lack of trust in God’s ability to maintain us in spite of what we face.  How much sooner would those in the camp with Abram have seen God’s power if he remained where he was?  And how much sooner would Abram and Sarai have received Isaac?  Thoughts to ponder.

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Doctrine

What I like about WordPress is that I am able to see how people found my blog.  Most of the time my blog is found it through the search engines.  One of the phrases that seems to show up often is “What do Wesleyans believe?”  Well, obviously we are Christian Protestants in the the Evangelical persuasion and should be thought of as believers who see themselves as part of the Holiness movement.  Therefore, I thought I would post our foundational beliefs along with the Calvinist viewpoint for a bit of comparison.

I will start with what Calvinists generally believe, although there is some variance, taken from the famous TULIP:

  1. Total Depravity: The personality, mind, body, and soul of a person is totally depraved.  Devoid of any ability to will spiritual good toward salvation.  There is nothing in us that can bring about salvation.  We are born with Original Sin inherited from Adam..  Regeneration occurs before faith.
  2. Unconditional Election: God has chosen some for salvation.  He has done so without regard for the decisions of those who have been chosen (Elect).  God elects, chooses, some to everlasting life no matter how hard-hearted.  He also elects others to eternal damnation.
  3. Limited Atonement: Christ died only for those whom God has chosen.  Therefore, those who are elect received salvation through His shed Blood.  Through the Blood of the Cross, Christ has redeemed by cleansing from Original Sin and sin committed before and after receiving faith, chosen ones from every tribe, nation, and language.
  4. Irresistible Grace: The Holy Spirit gives an irresistible urge to be saved to those who are elect.  Basically known as effectually drawing them to Christ so that they come most freely to that which is good.
  5. Perseverance of the Saints: Those who are chosen, or elect, will persevere to the end.  They cannot fall away from the state of grace.  They cannot lose their salvation.

Wesleyans are Wesleyan-Arminian.  Our beliefs were greatly influenced by John Wesley and James Arminius.  Here is what we believe:

  1. Limited Depravity: People are deep in sin, but God has extended His grace to all so that everyone can be saved if they “will.”  Faith occurs before regeneration.
  2. Conditional Election: God has called everyone to salvation, though many whom He has called do not respond.
  3. General Atonement: Christ’s Blood was shed and is available for all.  It is applied to those who respond to His offer of salvation.
  4. Prevenient Grace: God has given prevenient grace to all, which draws them toward saving grace, but the individual is not forced to respond to God’s grace.
  5. Conditional Security: Once saved, a person will always be saved unless by defiant, continued, purposeful rebellion, they refuse grace and choose apostasy.

Here are some useful links: TULIP, Arminius’ Remonstrance. and The Wesleyan Church.

These beliefs are just two doctrinal points of view within the Protestant Church.  I suggest that if you are someone who wants to compare what people believe, then you need to go to their website.  Often mainstream denominations will have their Articles of Religion posted.  However, churches that are autonomous, meaning independant or associations, may not have websites.  This means that you would have to ask the pastor if you could see what they have printed about what they believe.

Often, many assume that everyone believes the same things.  Yet, many times Protestants only agree on a few things.  In fact, I caution you that if you ask a pastor, or someone involved in a different church, what a church associated in a different denomination believes, you should not expect total accuracy.  Sometimes people take liberty in turning what another church believes into something outlandish.

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Right church, wrong church and division

Small churches become aggravated at megachurches because many leave the small church for the megachurch.  On the other hand, megachurches have a way of defending themselves that seems to lash out at small churches who criticize them.  Both groups have stereotyped the other side.  One side will say that the other only entertains, while the other side will say that the other is old and is not a church that people want to attend. This is counterproductive to the Kingdom building that is supposed to be taking place.  After all, people leaving one for the other is not an increase in God’s Kingdom.  In fact, this back and forth between these two sisters has brought much confusion to many believers.  What is more, it has brought confusion to those who find themselves in a place where they are not committed to a church, but may actually be in the process of  looking for a church.  What I mean is that they have heard the echo from those in both camps of this issue.  So this means that they are hearing this discussion between the two sisters, and I would argue it is a negative discussion, which is aiding people who are not committed to Christ choose the church in which they worship and serve at that may not be the Spirit’s leading.  With one side pointing out the imperfections of the other, it seems appropriate to outline those characteristics of what aright church looks like.  There are four universally, historically, marks that someone should look for in a church so that he or she may decide whether or not they have found a right church or a wrong church.

Those who are looking for a church should be looking for distinctive marks that seem to help define church on whether or not it is a right church, or wrong church.  Of course this type of discussion is nothing new.  In fact the Early Church set forth The Marks of The Church, which can be observed from the book of Acts.  You may recall that the book of Acts is a book that describes the birth of The Church as a result of the Holy Spirit coming to indwell those who receive and follow Christ.  According to H. Ray Dunning, in 381 B.C., The Marks of The Church were stated formally for the first time in the Creed of Constantinople” (529).  Four Marks were named in the Creed, Unity, Holiness, Catholicity (which means universal), and Apostolicity.  Dunning further pointed out that these marks are produced by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  “They are not the result of organization or administration but are the creation of the Spirit” (529).  This last statement is another discussion for later, but it certainly should cause one to pause at the role of leadership, and administration, in many Protestant churches today.  Since these marks are understood to be the creation of the Spirit, this means that people, both inside and outside, of the Church, should be able to see these traits as reality.  If these traits are not seen as reality in regard to a group, then it is possible that group may not be a right church.  Here is a little more clarification to aid understanding these marks.

The first mark in our list of four is Unity.  This mark is one that both small churches and megachurches need to consider again.  Remember the discussion in my intro of this article.  Each side tends to point out what the other side believes to be wrong with the other.  Jesus’ teaching to His followers should be applied in this situation, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).  If both sides rightly understood this, then each could be beneficial to the other which would glorify Christ.  Consider a statement that makes a great point, and should be a rule that is kept in mind,  James B. Chapman said, “The Christ in me will never be at variance with the Christ in you” (Dunning 531).  This obviously should demonstrate the unity of Christ’s Church.  These two statements are important for each side to consider because these were made in reference to what leads to disunity, and what should help to create unity.  Christ is not divided against Himself.  The Holy Spirit should be aiding to keep this from happening.  Our goal as those who are part of The Universal Church is that we be united as part of, and by taking part in, God’s Kingdom.  When we work against each other it creates disunity and this means there is no benefit to the Kingdom.

The second mark is Catholicity.  This term is not about being a geographical location, or part of any particular tradition of doing church.  It means that it is universal by embracing Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you (Christians who have been saved by the Blood of Christ and have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them) are all one in Christ Jesus.”  This again seems to be another way of saying unity too (532).  Clearly, this is what Paul had in mind here, and in his other epistles.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit ties us to all who are in Christ.  This means that those who have the Spirit are part of The Universal Church.  This is important because this means that there isn’t a worship style, or a particular way of being the church.  Instead, it is an outer reality, that exists on the basis of the inward reality of the Spirit that makes the church be the church.   After all, there is only one Savior; and He is not divided in Himself.  We are “doing” church right, when we are being the Church through the aid of the Spirit.

The third mark is Holiness.  Holiness, unfortunately, sometimes is understood in a variety of ways.  For example, does one become Holy simply because Jesus automatically gives it to those who He calls His?  Or does Jesus offer Holiness to those who surrender themselves totally to Him so that He they can receive another helping of Grace?  This is a debate without end.  Yet, as a Wesleyan, I believe that Holiness is imparted by Christ.  From John Wesley’s point of view, “Holiness of the Church is attributable because of a real, rather than imputed, holiness” (532).  It should be pointed out that the Church does have within her those who are babes in Christ.  In fact, we are becoming Holy by allowing the Spirit within to mold and shape us.  We also are learning from the Great Teacher, Christ.   This means that each person is walking in the light they are given at that particular point of their new life in Christ.  If this be so, there will be issues each church will have to deal with because of the universal impact of sin in our world.  Further, corporate Holiness also involves accountability within the church.  I recognize that writing this some might say that this leads to judgment and condemnation and more legalism in the church.  By the way, both sides of this discussion have this element to contend with.  On the contrary, I believe it is about motivation.  Holiness that comes from the Spirit is centered on love for God and others.  It is not involved in lording over other people.  Instead it is driven by the heartfelt need to keep a brother or sister from sinning.  This in turn helps to keep the purity of the Church’s witness.  In fact, this is why Covenant Memberships exist in many churches.  This, too, will be a topic for another discussion.  Holiness, as Dunning puts it, is “the conscience of the church” (533).  Moreover, it is time that we Christians understand that we are Saints; and that we should no longer be sinners.  This is the common cry of many Christians today.  It is important that we remember that God still has expectations of us.  Therefore, right churches will remain aware of this.

The final mark in this list is Apostolicity.  This is not to be understood as an office what one can seek.  Instead it is what should be present within the Church through her members.  Members who are empowered by the Holy Spirit who dwells within.  This is the same Holy Spirit who dwelt within the Apostles.  In other words, in regard to Apostolicity, “It is the truth of the gospel proclaimed in the power of the Spirit” (534).  In fact, this is why each person receives spiritual gifts.  These gifts are meant to build up the Church.  If we localize this by saying build up the church, which is part of The Church, then we realize that it is not about one person, or a few, who have the ability to attract.  It is about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who dwells within the corporate Body, and in individuals who make up the Body.  Therefore, it is not really about the greatness of the speaker, singer, or leader.  It is more likely that it is about the greatness of God who is present in His believers and among them as well.  With this type of understanding it easy to see that each person has a gift, or gifts, which they bring to the local church so that they too can help build up that particular church.  In turn, if the church being built up has these marks, then the Kingdom is being built up.  In fact, The Bible said that the Holy Spirit places in you in a church to do just that.

The purpose of writing this is to help those who may wonder whether or not their church is a right church.  At some point, All churches who claim Christ as their Savior must stop acting as if they are the only church who is really right.  Beware of that type of rhetoric, whether it comes from large or small.  It seems more likely that God uses both megachurches and small churches.  As a small church pastor, I want people to know that I understand these marks.  In fact, I wanted to write this because my church is small and can easily be labeled as a church that doesn’t get it.  Therefore, if Christ is in me and in those who attend my church, then it is dangerous when other pastors make blanket statements about churches who are not right or productive, in their opinion, because of a certain tradition that may seem to be out of touch with this new age.  Likewise, it is dangerous when smaller church pastors preach against what God is doing in larger churches.  The damage that is being caused is only to the mission of Christ to make disciples by using His Church.

There are more developed Marks of The Church, for example Mark Dever wrote a book called The Nine Marks of  a Healthy Church.  I have looked though this book, and it looks to be a good read and teaching tool.  However, I elected to stick with what I see as the earliest work on this subject.  I say this because I am aware that there are other variations of The Marks, but each should be developed from The Creed of Constantinople in my opinion.  I believe Dever’s is.  But his is a book, and this is only article that is meant to be basic.

Once one establishes whether or not a church is a right church, and there doesn’t seem to be division of Christ taking place, he or she needs to seek and hear from God whether or not that is the place to serve.  This should be helpful for those who are wondering what a good church looks like.

Works Cited

 

Dunning, H. Ray.  Grace Faith and Holiness.  Kansas City,

MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1988.

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The Church and her fight against same-sex marriage

I haven’t been a good citizen or a good pastor lately because I am on break from watching the news.  I impose these breaks from time to time because it seems like there is a lot of bad news for the world, America, and me.  Add to this that politically, I find myself in a dying breed category.  Politically I’m conservative.  You may be someone who is on the other side of the aisle right now and just felt a strong disdain for me.  Or, you might just feel sorry for me since I’m such a poor misguided soul who just doesn’t get it.  Nevertheless, if you are still reading at this point, I am aware that politicians, federal justices, and Americans are dealing with same-sex marriage again.  Therefore, I felt that it is in order to remind Christians and secularists about what the Bible actually says about this hotly debated issue.

First, I want Christians to step back and examine what their motive is that dwells in their hearts when they post statuses on Twitter and Facebook about same-sex marriage.  I feel that honesty, with what is going on in our hearts, is needed in this arena.  I fear that some Christians really are attacking a group of people who commit a particular type of sin, according to the Bible.   What continues to be forgotten is that sexual immorality is a branch off of Original Sin that everyone, theologically, is born with.  In fact, the self is always in contrast to God.  If sexual immorality is a branch off of the tree of Original Sin, then a branch off of sexual immorality is homosexuality, and, a list that includes sins like adultery, sexual fantasy with people other than your spouse, all sex outside of the context of marriage, pornography, incest, and etc.  These, and others that I may not have listed, are stems off of the branch attached to the tree.

The problem is that we Christians focus all of our efforts to grab the saw to remove the stem of homosexuality from the branch of sexual immorality.  All the while, however, we simply try to manage the other types of sin with less vigor.  In fact, we do not even really get upset when those sins are committed because we understand them; and most of us have committed them.  Therefore, we become compassionate toward those people who struggle with those sins.  And, could I say, that some “Christians” even practice some of those sins regularly.  Here is the rub, pastors will correctly say that we have to work with these poor lost souls.  But, incorrectly it seems, not with homosexuals.  Instead of acknowledging them as those who are in bondage to sexual immorality like most other people are too, Christians begin to call judgment down on them.

This is much like OT Israel who continued to long for The Day of The Lord, but prophets warned them that when that day came it would not be what they expected.  In fact, it would be a day of justice for their injustice toward others.  Yes, injustice was practiced in Holy Israel, where God was “their King.”  They practiced racial hatred even though their Law called for them to care for those who were foreigners among them.  They ignored the poor often, and the list goes on.  The lesson that we Christians, The New Israel, should learn is that sometimes when we start calling down curses, like some disciples wanted to do, and ultimate judgment we might not get what we expect.  We might just get what we deserve.  After all, we never had the zeal to hold people in our churches accountable for those other sexual sins that they continued to practice.  We settled for “loving” them and fighting against one particular type of sin that we personally did not like.

Further, I am shocked at how few Christians really know what the Bible says about this issue and how we are supposed to live in a world where this issue isn’t going to go away.  Some Christians will post that God is fine with this type of behavior, or lifestyle, but upset with those are not because they are “judging.”  Christians continue to misunderstand what judging is.  I make judgments daily, for example, I make the judgment that if I place my hand on a hot stove I will get burned.  Therefore, I do not do it.  In fact, I tell children, don’t do it.  The problem is that some children have put their hand on a stove that was not hot before.  In fact, they enjoy doing that.  Nevertheless, I tell them not to do anyway.  But they think I am judging them because that stove has not burned them before.  Besides, what they do with their hand is their business and I should not care as long as it isn’t hurting me.  Yet, most would say that if I don’t warn them, then I am not caring for them.

I used possibly a silly example, but the point is that I don’t believe that my motive, if I’m judging others by saying that homosexuality is a sin, is meant to intrude on someone’s right to touch a stove.  My motive should be that I know that one day that stove will be on and it will burn the child’s hand so I don’t want the child to eventually get hurt.  In fact, I deeply care about the child, otherwise I would not say anything to the child about the stove.  I would simply sit back and watch the show.  When it was over I would say, lol, I told you and walk away.  Now obviously, I think that according to the Bible homosexuality is indeed sin.  Those who practice it, along with the other types of sin I mentioned earlier, may not be getting hurt now, but they will.  And one day Jesus will return and those who clung to their Original Sin will be sent to a place of judgment.  These will be those who rejected Jesus and His teachings.  They wanted the right to live their lives and touch that stove without people like me bothering them.  And, God will grant that to those who did not want to respond to God and ignored His warning.  So in fact, these will get what they always wanted; eternal life without God.

For those who are secular I want you to know that we Christians are supposed to be showing you respect and love.  If you experience those who do not, please know that they are not currently speaking the language of Christ.  You are right that you should be able to live the way you choose.  We Christians call that Free Will.  From my point of view that is biblical, that is a gift from God to you.  If you don’t believe that the Bible is the ultimate source of truth, then none of this matters.  But, if you do believe that the Bible is God’s communication to His Church, then you need to know that homosexuality is sin.  Plus, as Americans, even if there are people misusing Scripture, or being hypocritical while quoting Scripture, it is their right to take part in the American process politically.

I do ask for forgiveness though when you experience wrong-motive Christians attacking you if you are someone who supports same-sex marriage, or someone who is homosexual.   I want you to know that you would like Jesus, and sometimes His people get a little edgy, but eventually we will grow to become more like Him.  The Christian Church simply cannot support same-sex marriage, but she should not attack those who do.  Christians are supposed to be ambassadors who persuade on behalf of her King.  Jesus is not into coercion.

If same-sex marriage is legalized, then Christians, you and I, are still called to love God and love others.  We will continue to operate as we have since they lowered the age for consensual sex, legalized alcohol, and in some places marijuana, divorce, and etc.  We live in a fallen world.  Do you really think that legislation will fix it?  Or do you suppose that being motivated by love and compassion to disciple others will eventually impact your surrounding community?  I can’t help but think of the Kingdom that was spawned by One Man over 2,ooo years ago who did not condemn, but came to save.

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Thoughts on Leadership in The Church

I don’t believe that this is a popular post especially among my peers.  As I write this, I realize that I have not been able to do anything significant; at least as far as other pastors and church leaders might be concerned.  Yet, for some time I have been troubled by this continuous movement among pastors to focus directly upon leadership.

It seems to me that pastors focus more on reading articles and books on the topic of leadership than they do books that might help them to be better teachers.  Remember, people will follow leaders, but leaders can be different from teachers.  Teaching is important in God’s Kingdom.  Hence, focus on making disciples.  I follow many pastors on Twitter and it is obvious, according to the tweets I see, that many are spending more time reading leadership books than they are theological books.

Let me reign in this argument a little.  Understanding our roles as leaders in The Church is significant.  Yet, this being a subject that dominates our ministries is questionable; at least to me.  Someone like John Wesley, who was a great leader, believed that one of the most important books that he read, a part from the Bible, was Imitation of Christ.  This is a powerful book that seems to deal with transformation instead of demonstrating leadership over others.

In today’s Church, is it possible that pastors are focusing more on delegating the responsibility to care for those in the flock to others in the name of leadership?  This might be a good place to turn around, if you are a pastor, and look at the most read books in your office.  Are the books on leadership worn out more than the Bible?  How about those books that teach about pastoral care?  Theology?

In Mark 6:30-44, Jesus and His disciples “taught” the crowd before the miracle of feeding them.  Significant.  Also, the Disciples were told by Jesus, “You give them something to eat.”  Jesus delegated, with the purpose of “teaching,” to the Disciples to feed the crowd themselves.  The miracle and teaching were meant to teach; not demonstrate leadership.  Nevertheless, there is Scripture that teaches about leadership too.  Yet, it is in balance with other areas of ministry too.

Leadership sometimes gives ministers the hope that great leadership will attract more people to church and motivate them to do the work of The Church.  It can.  Yet, one the aspects that keeps people grounded is speaking the words of life.  When people deserted Jesus, He asked His Disciples if they wanted to leave too, but Peter asked, “To whom will we go, You have the words of life. (paraphrase John 6:68).  They stuck because leaders come and go, but the Truth never changes.  Obviously, Jesus taught the Truth and that was enough.

Some leadership risks are building a church after your image instead of God’s, people looking to you instead of seeking Christ.  I don’t want a church that thinks like Scott Uselman, I want a church that has the mind of Christ.  I don’t want people following Scott Uselman, yes I think I mean that, I want them to follow Jesus Christ.

Leaders tend to fix things, but some things are not meant to be fixed by anyone other than Christ.  Some things are designed teach Christians by the power and influece of the Holy Spirit; not by me becoming a person of influence.

Okay, I am not dumping leadership.  What I hope you have heard is that leadership should not be your only focus in ministry.  Yet, status updates and tweets seem to demonstrate that leadership is somewhat of a subject to show off as a pastor.  If I am out of line, be assured that it is not my intention.  In fact, examining ourselves and our motives might be good spiritual discipline even for a pastor who already knows everything. 😉

I long to see a renewed effort on teaching right doctrine, biblical theology, and focus on transformation instead of trying to develop leaders.  Holy Spirit, would you develop your people for your glory?  Amen.

 

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Filed under Church Health, Holiness, Leadership

Trouble for The Wesleyan Church?

I try to update my blog, that seems to be going the way of “Video Killed the Radio Star,” especially since the advent of Twitter at least once a month.  I also check it several times of month to see how active it is; not very. lol.  I have few readers who are subscribed to my blog and read it when I post.

What I notice in my statistics is that my blog is found most of the time because I am a Wesleyan pastor.  There seems to be a lot of people, I don’t know where, that are interested in finding out what The Wesleyan Church is.  They are interested in learning what The Wesleyan Church believes.  They want to know what the difference between Wesleyans and Baptists are.

Well there are a few differences, but Wesleyans and Baptists serve the same God and share the same fundamental doctrine that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.  Salvation is only found in Him alone.  The other differences are those that people can debate, can debate, can debate, can debate, got old didn’t? until the cows come home.

I think  the trouble that we Wesleyans are having in the 21st Century is that we do not know who we are either.  Simply put, if we did, then those who find my blog because of a search engine would not have to ask the search engine who the Wesleyans are.  We Wesleyans would be noted as those who seek to live Holy lives and are proactive in the face of immorality and injustice.

One question I ponder is why we Wesleyans struggle to be seen as instruments in the hands of Christ?  The first Wesleyan-Methodists, in my opinion, would have been considered a missional movement by our 21st Century standards.  Missional is one of the fads, that I strive to take part in because I follow Christ, that people are writing about in the Christian book culture.  One book title is called The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch.  Sometimes I wonder how Christians forgot to be missional since the Bible teaches it. Is there a chance that many Wesleyan churches have forgotten this too?

I think The Wesleyan Church may need to remember who we really are.  We are supposed to be a movement.  The by-product of our doctrine of Sanctification, our love for Christ and others, is that we seek to become imitators of Jesus Christ especially in regard to the lost, poor, and least of these.  We go to them with the Gospel and seek to meet their needs when possible.  We cannot ignore this biblical doctrine.  I question sometimes if this is something that many pastors want to sweep under the rug.

What may seem to be trouble for us might be our opportunity to spread the Scriptural Holiness message that is missional.  This is good news for the world.  The good news is that people are asking questions about The Wesleyan Church.  We get to answer these questions by living our lives for Jesus; and use words when necessary.

If you are a part of The Wesleyan Church, then you need to make sure, along with me, to live a life that is “worthy of God” (1 Thess. 2:12).  Then people will know what we believe and in whom we believe.  Of course, if we do this, then my blog may be officially dead. 🙂 God bless.

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Filed under Holiness, Living it, Missional Resources, The Wesleyan Church

A reminder to pastors (attendees)

The end of the conference year is coming in The Wesleyan Church.  This is when we audit our books and post the results of our church’s ministry for the year.  For a few, this will be a time of joy because they have experienced much fruit as a result of their church ministries. 

For others, this will be a time of doubt, dread, frustration, and mourning, because they will not have the fruit to show as a result of their ministries.  For many of these ministers they will be challenged to continue on in ministry.  Some will feel a sense of jealousy and their pride will be wounded deeply.  After all, no matter what denomination that you are in, when you see other churches doing well it is easy to feel discouraged.   

Some examples of discouragement are things that are felt indirectly.  There seems to be an undercurrent that is heard, felt, or imagined that they have not performed their duties well enough.  Yet, maybe they have performed their duties as they should. 

The good news that should encourage ministers, from all denominations and church sizes, is that Dr. Joe Dongell reminded us once that we (ministers) are not the Lord of Harvest.  Our duty is to plant and water the seeds.  When God and the people are ready, He will be the One who harvests them.   

Here is more good news from the book of John.  I’ve been spending some time in this book lately and found something that seemed to be a good reminder to all pastors who are not seeing the results they desire.  So I want to share some Scriptures that might remind us that we are taking too much upon ourselves as ministers of the gospel.  Let’s be for real.  Sometimes ministers fight the battle of taking things personal because the church’s ministry success has been tied to them, either by their choice or others’, instead of to Jesus Christ. 

In John 3:22-30, Jesus has become greater than John the Baptist.  This means that if you John the Baptist that you realize that you really are becoming less in your community.  John knew what his mission was; point people to the One who came after him though He is before him.  Also, Jesus’ disciples are baptizing more people than John.  For ministers, this means that the people of your congregation are leaving to go to another church because it is new or there is more action. 

First striking reaction from Pastor John the Baptist when he is alerted to the growth of Jesus’ ministry was that he has joy over it.  Yes, I said that the John felt joy over it.  Now, this is in contrast to the long introduction that I just gave.  Why?  Verse 29a, “The bride belongs to the bridegroom.”  Kind of what Dongell said.  The Church (the people of Christ) belongs to Christ.  This means that if ministers feel discouraged it is time to check our motives for success.  Is about us or Him?  The people in the congregation are not yours.  They have been Ransomed by Someone else.

Second, verse 29b, “The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.”  Ministers are attendees of the Church.  We are friends that Christ has placed trust in to care for His Church (the Bride).  The mark of a true friend is the demonstration of the joy felt when the Jesus does with His people as He sees fit. 

Finally, in verse 29c John said, “That joy is mine, and it is now complete.”  Then He ends with verse 30, “He must become greater; I must become less.”  To be a true friend, we must become faithful.  Yet, not just faithful out of duty, but because we want to be faithful; a faithful friend to Christ.  This means that we are supposed to be attached to success of Jesus connecting with people instead of attached to the success of us connecting to people and receiving accolades for it. 

Discouragement, frustration, and etc, are felt when we ministers do not understand who is responsible for church growth/fruit.  When we feel this way, we need to consider that John the Baptist was just before prison and in the midst of his decline in ministry, but still felt joy and complete at the success of another. 

You might be a small church pastor who needs to verbally say out loud that your joy is complete because another minister is doing well.  After all, we are just attendees who point the bride to the groom.

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