The crook who forsook the assemby

In my observation, when paid ministers, aka “hirelings” (ref. John 10:12-13) make accusations from the pulpit, they are often guilty of the very thing they have accused the congregation of doing. Psychologists refer to the phenomenon as “projection”, or more commonly “blame shifting”. Of course that doesn’t account for the spirit(s) behind the accusation about which Jesus said the religious rulers were speaking for their father, the devil. Scripture says Satan is a liar, the father of lies (John 8:44), and the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10).

So when a hireling resorts to accusing the sons of God about whom scripture says there is NO condemnation (Romans 8:1), is their behavior any different than when the religious leaders did so in Jesus day? And what of the hireling’s minions, aka “members of the congregation” who more often than not, mindlessly parrot the hireling’s accusations? Are they not also acting on behalf of their father, the devil in accusing the brethren? It is well to remember that Jesus runs off the accuser and He does not condemn (John 8:3-11).

forsookOne favorite accusation among hirelings is “you are robbing God”, which stems from a deceptive application of Malachi 3:8. The manner in which God was being robbed is outlined in Nehemiah 13:4-13, wherein the wicked priest Eliashib allowed Tobiah, a Molech worshiping Ammonite, to plunder the temple storehouse thereby robbing the Levite priests of the tithe, which was theirs by law. When the Levites did not receive their portion of the tithe, they abandoned their temple duties and took to the fields and pastures to raise food for their families. Thus, robbing God had to do with robbing the priesthood who ceased their temple service.

If as the law of Moses teaches the tithe is brought to the temple for the priests, where now according to the new covenant every believer is a priest and living temple, then all believers should share the tithe (if the tithe were still applicable under the new covenant, which it is not). Accordingly, hirelings are modern day Eliashibs and Tobiahs who are robbing believers of their inheritance in Christ Jesus! No wonder John 10 speaks of hirelings, thieves and robbers, who come to steal, kill and destroy in the same breath! Continue reading

Where do you go to church?

When Christians meet for the first time, the question most often asked is “where do you go to church?” I dread that question more than any other because the people who ask are usually shocked by my answer. I hope by the end of this column, to show the reader just how silly the question really is.

wheredoyougotochurchSince the time of Christ, the question has been asked in many ways. There was the woman at the well who asked Jesus about worship on Jacob’s mountain or in Jerusalem. Jesus’ reply made it clear that where we worship is no longer relevant, but who and how we worship (John 4:21-23). On another occasion, the disciples stopped a man from working miracles because he was not a member of their church. Clearly angered, Jesus said “don’t stop him – if he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally” (Mark 9:38-40).

So if where is not important and there are only the 2 sides in the conflict between light and darkness, can there be more than one church (Mark 3:25)? Continue reading

Lord, teach us to pray!

While waiting for my wife, I watched a man hobble out of the post office to his car, laboring over each step while leaning on a cane for support. With so many elderly in this community, it is fairly common to see people who are struggling with failing health. My heart goes out to them and often I find myself quietly praying for their healing and comfort.

prayerAs I prayed for the man at the post office, the Holy Spirit impressed me that I was relying on human sight to pray for people suffering from obvious physical conditions. With that in mind, the Holy Spirit prompted me to consider how my praying might change if I could see a person’s spiritual needs and respond with prayer for them.

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Worship Services

Among the things that continue to grieve me since the Lord first called me out of man’s traditional church, is the observation of how seldom believers ever question whether or not common church practices are even of the Spirit and the Word. For example, most churches refer to the Sunday service as a “worship service” and hold to the notion that “worship means singing” hymns and choruses. Rarely have I seen the idea challenged; believers simply accept the modern worship model as handed down from our forefathers as Biblical and correct.

comeworshipFor the sake of examining the modern “worship service” and in particular singing as worship, let’s lay a Biblical foundation for discussion.

  • In the OT, the temple was a stone building in Jerusalem. In the NT, the temple is us (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19, 1 Pet. 2:5).
  • In the OT, the priests were the sons of Levi and Aaron. In the NT, the priesthood is us (1 Pet. 2:5, :9, Rev. 1:6, 5:10, 20:6).
  • In the OT, the Spirit did not indwell the people, He resided in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. In the NT, the Holy Spirit has made His home in us since the Resurrection and Pentecost (Jo. 20:22, Ac. 2:4)

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Preemptive grace

Washing the disciples feet has often left me wondering whether Jesus intended a greater lesson for us than to simply marvel at His servant-hood as is common in the annual celebration of the last supper. In fact, when Jesus had finished washing their feet, He asked:

Do you understand what I have done to you? (John 13:11)

FootWashingIn trying to grasp the significance of what He did, it is well to remember that Jesus remained with the disciples for 40 days following His resurrection. Surely Jesus could have found the time to wash their feet then, rather than on the night of His betrayal. Mere hours before His arrest, trial, flogging and crucifixion, Jesus must have been in emotional agony. Yet, Jesus concern was for the disciples who would be wounded by His death and scattered by the persecution that followed. Jesus knew they would be overcome with guilt and shame for denying Him and therefore potentially reluctant to return to Him. By washing their feet before they deserted Him, Jesus laid the groundwork of grace and prepared the way for the disciples to be reconciled to Himself. In so doing, Jesus reassured them of His love and the forgiveness that awaited them when eventually they did sin against Him. Continue reading

The Restaurant Revelation

My mother went to be with Jesus on May 22, 2003. Following her stroke the fall of 1999, dad devoted his life to mom’s full time care. As happens far too often, most of their friends left them. Since her care routine did not permit for morning outings, they could not attend church services and were quickly forgotten. Rather than accept isolation, dad began taking mom out to an early supper several times a week, which was no small effort on his part. Dad washed, clothed and fed mom and lifted her several dozen times each day and night, from bedroom to bathroom, wheelchair to recliner, in and out of the car.

momRestaurants provided mom with loving human contact, which was a healing balm for her spirit and helped to prolong her life. No matter how many times the wait staff came to the table, she greeted them with a cheerful “oh, Hi!” and one-armed hug. They remained with mom as long as it took her to order, which was in itself an act of love and grace since the stroke left mom unable to speak except for a few nonsensical words. The kitchen staff even helped to take care of mom, by cutting up her meat, customizing meals and coming out to greet her, where many more hugs were given and received.

Among the many cards and letters my dad received following mom’s death, were several from the restaurants they enjoyed. All were deeply touching and conveyed love and admiration, but one in particular set me to pondering with the observation: Continue reading