Compromise, is it a sin or testimony?

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Compromise is a word that Americans associate with losing. Most of us, when we use this word, use it in the context of giving up something you wanted to reach an agreement with someone else. The other party is also expected to give up something they wanted to reach a concession or compromise. It’s so ingrained that to compromise means to leave the negotiations as equally unhappy with the results as the other party. What if we are looking at compromise all wrong?

Up until a few years ago I also used the word compromise in a negative way. Examples would be compromising ones morals, abandoning morals once held in favor of  a lower standard. How about compromising their faith? We use that when we see a fellow Christian partying it up or any other behavior deemed beneath the standards of a Christian. Maybe talking about a politician compromising their position in favor of a lesser appealing position for some favor? You could say a person compromised their finances by making a bad investment or not paying their bills.

A couple of years ago we were ministering at a bi-lingual, predominately Hispanic church. The people who started and led the church are from Argentina. The associate pastor is from Ecuador and the congregants were from the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Brazil and other Spanish-speaking areas of Central & South America. The pastor would talk of ” compromising with God “. This left my wife and I thinking ” why would you want to compromise?  “. In our culture that has always been a bad thing. In theirs it’s not just a good thing, but a necessary thing. After a few weeks and some researching we came to the conclusion that, not only did it make sense, they were using the term correctly.

Everyone who preached had an interpreter. If you spoke Spanish you had an interpreter who translated to English. If you spoke English your interpreter would translate to Spanish. With all the different dialects of Spanish in the congregation there were times when things were literally lost in translation. That’s what we originally thought until we thought it through and researched it.

What we found was a perfect example of compromising without sinning in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 9 it is all about compromising for the greater good of those you are ministering to. Verses 19-21 speak specifically to Paul compromising his personal beliefs to better minister to unbelievers in a way as to not offend and do more to push them away.

Chuck Swindoll, in The Swindoll Study Bible, says this; Here we have a little glimpse of Paul’s behind – the – scenes thoughts regarding the spread of the gospel. What he says here raises a question: When was the last time you had a non-believing family over for dinner? Or the last time you went to one of their backyard parties? You might say, ” well, I’m not willing to compromise.” Is that good? Paul didn’t see it that way. He was willing to adapt – but not sin – in order to be around those who were not like him. Why? To bring them to Christ. In our evangelical circles the word compromise is often viewed with a critical eye. But there is a definite place for compromise, and wise, mature, and balanced is the person who gives as much as possible so as not to offend while still retaining the integrity to communicate an authentic gospel.

Paul is telling of his willingness to compromise in order to bring people to Christ or build up & protect a weaker, new believer to the faith. He said that even though he is a free man with no master he is a slave to all people. He stated that when he is with those who are weak he is weak, sharing in their weakness. He states he is trying to find common ground with everyone in order to bring as many to Christ as possible. In Acts Paul talked to the scholars in Athens. He didn’t insult them by telling them they were wrong, he treated them with respect and honor and in doing so he had them listening to what he had to say.

He didn’t stay away from this crowd because they were ” sinners ” or ” unbelievers “. Just the opposite, he met them where they were and used their customs, beliefs and religion to introduce them to Jesus. Throughout the Bible’s accounts of Paul’s life, he met the people where they were. He dined with devout Jews and observed their customs and was educated enough to discuss and debate with them. He dinned with Gentiles who were non-believers and did not refuse their hospitality as long as it did not violate any of God’s commands. He dinned with new believers who were Gentiles ( Greeks ) and new very little about the faith. He had learned much about their culture and could reason with and teach them. He was able to encourage both Jewish and Greek new believers. He was flexible and observant enough to know if something would be offensive and counter productive to his audience.

Paul’s whole ministry was about spreading the good news. He did not engage in behaviour control or modification. Even when mingling with unbelievers he did not try to tell them how to behave. The people he admonished and corrected were those he already had a relationship with, hence the letters to the various churches we call books ( 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians ). He was instead a living example of grace, truth and love.

How can we use this for us today? As Chuck Swindoll asked, when was the last time you had an unbelieving family over for dinner? When was the last time you went to dinner anywhere with an unbelieving family or just an individual? Did you refuse to go to a place of their choosing because there would be ” alcohol their ” or ” secular music and alcohol “? When was the last time you mingled with non-believers anywhere and just conversed with them? Maybe nothing more than good-natured banter or talk about sports or shopping while refraining from gossip or cussing without condemning them through words of facial expressions? When was the last time you went to a coworkers or friends home for a ” house party ” where there would be wine while cupcakes, dishes or makeup was being sold? You can go, have fun, laugh and still not violate your conscience if you have a personal conviction against drinking.

The point is, when was the last time you compromised to the benefit of others for the faith? You may be the only person they see who isn’t a stuck up, judgemental and prudish Christian. You may be the one person whose willingness to go to them and not judge, but accept them, that opens their mind to the truth of the gospel. There’s a saying that goes something like this – don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re of no earthly good. Don’t be afraid to compromise a little for an eternal benefit.

Andy

The meaning of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

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The phrase ” Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness ” is found in the Declaration of Independence. The writers listed these as three unalienable rights given us by our creator that government is to protect. So what did the signers of the Declaration of Independence mean when they penned this phrase?

Life and Liberty are pretty straightforward, or we would like to think it is. In today’s political and social climate in the U.S. the understanding of these two concepts is in question. When coupled with ” the pursuit of happiness ” the meaning is completely lost as our educational system no longer teaches what the original meaning and intent was. Instead, they like to say the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence are living documents that the meaning changes over time.

Happiness comes from the old English word haepic which means equal. In 1725 Francis Hutcheson brought us a political definition of happiness in his treatise ” An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue. “. His political philosophy was that action is best which accomplishes the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers; and that the worst, in like manner occasions misery. Hutcheson’s political philosophy became very popular and greatly influenced the thinking of the founding fathers.

According to the Webster’s New World Law Dictionary the legal definition of the pursuit of happiness is: An inalienable right enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, in addition to life and liberty; the right to pursue any legal activity as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.

Given these two definitions we see that ” the pursuit of happiness ” means the ability to seek equality in a manner that is legal and does not infringe on the rights of others. That brings up the question of what is it to be equal?

Being equal does not mean we are all equal in circumstance, education and finances but we are all equal in the eyes of God, government and justice. We are to have the ability to not be infringed upon by government or others in pursuing life and business. Happiness is not defined as the feeling of being happy. The emotion of happiness is different for everybody and every group. Trying to make one group bend to the wills of another group does not result in happiness but oppression, the very thing America was founded to avoid.

When government fails to protect us in our pursuit of happiness we get situations like we have today. Governments forcing people to engage in activities that are against their deeply held religious beliefs while allowing others to refuse to engage in the exact same activities.

When government fails to protect these rights you get certain groups given special treatment over the majority. Forcing the majority to bend to the minority sacrificing their own liberties.

It’s well past time that we learn accurate history and the founding documents and hold government accountable.

Andy

Is tithing required?

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The tithe is something that has been taught as a must do in the church for as long as I can remember. When tithing is preached on invariably they point to Malachi 3:8-10 as the basis for the tithe. Your abundance and blessing is always tied to your faithful giving of the tithe. So what is the tithe?

The tithe is 10% of everything grown, raised and earned. That 10% goes to the Lord via the temple. In Numbers 18:21-28 we see that the Lord has given the tithe as an inheritance to the Levites. The Levites were the one of the 12 tribes of Israel and the only one dedicated to be the priests. See, the Levites were set apart to perform the priestly duties in the temples. They were not to work the fields or engage in the trades. They were to maintain and keep up the temple. They were to oversee and perform sacrifices and the other religious ceremonies of the day. The tithe was put in place to support them.

Now when speaking of the tithe we have two other tithes not preached on that are tied to the tithe. One is the tithe on the tithe. So the priests were commanded to bring a tithe ( 10% ) of all the tithes to the Lord to be put up in the store house. Then we have the 5% tithe on anything valued. Leviticus 27 talks about valuation and what amount of money shall be given when something is valued. So to be totally in keeping with the Levitical Law ( the laws God gave Moses for the Israelites ) everything valued you have to add a fifth and give that to the temple also. So to be in 100% obedience to the tithe you not only give 10% of everything you earn, grow and raise, but pay the added 5th to everything you have that is valued and dedicated to the Lord, including people.

Then there is the first fruits offerings commanded once every three years and the year of jubilee that is to be obserrved by all those under this law. So to be fait and true to the law you have to give a first fruits offering on everything every three years and when the year of jubilee comes around you have to forgive other believers of their debt and return any property you seized or bought as payment for debt.

So here we have the laws of tithing as set forth in the old Levitical Law. Now we know we are no longer under this law because of the sacrifice of Christ. We are under the law of grace, love and liberty being led by the Spirit as Paul tells in Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Timothy, Hebrews and James. To keep going back to the law, as laid out in Leviticus, is to have an affair behind Jesus’ back. After all, we are in a marriage with Christ through our redemption by His blood. Going back to the Levitical Law is telling Him that He isn’t enough and you want to flirt with Moses and his law, but not fully commit. It’s like a married man having a side chick.

Why would you want to be under condemnation of that law when you can have the liberty that comes with Christ? Nothing comes from the old Levitical Law but guilt and false condemnation from not upholding ALL the law. It also brings a false guilt when you are having hard financial times and literally can not pay the full 10%. Because you were flirting with the old law you now can’t give with joy like we are instructed to. Instead you give with guilt and dread coming into disobedience of the New Testament command to give cheerfully as laid in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7.

So what does the New Testament tell us about giving? First lets take Mathew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 off the table. Jesus wasn’t trying to commend them for their tithing as some suggest. Just the opposite is true. He was condemning them for keeping the law of tithing while failing to keep to keep other equally important laws. In Hebrews when tithing is talked about, in every instance it is in regard to Old Testament figures under the Levitical Law.

The New Testament does lay out instructions for giving. In Mark 12:40-43 Jesus watched people giving. He noticed the rich giving great sums that were no loss to them. The one who stood out was the widow who gave everything she had. She was the one who made a true offering. This tells us that our offerings should cost us something. This example was laid out by David when he was going to make a sacrifice and the land owner said he would provide the threshing floor and the animals for the sacrifice. David said no, it should never be that the sacrifice not cost me, for it doesn’t cost me it’s not a sacrifice. We see that principle in play with this widow.

Secondly the New Testament tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 we are told to give what we have already decided in our hearts and not to give reluctantly or under compulsion, but God loves a cheerful giver. How do we know what to give then if it’s left up to our heart? If you are under the law of the Spirit the Spirit will guide you in what to give. Set that amount in your heart and give cheerfully. If you are reluctant about the amount you know the Lord told you to give, pray about it before giving until you can do so without reluctance.

What about churches who have campaigns once a year to raise money or to get commitments from the members? These churches are trying to budget so they know how much money after they pay their debt to use for ministry and salaries. Now I don’t have a problem with salaries as even Paul talked about supporting those in full-time ministry. I do have a problem with churches going into debt and being slaves to the lender ( another biblical principle. ). It’s also an indication that they are trying to budget and spend with more worldly financial wisdom and less faith. If you know the Spirit is leading you to give a certain amount over the year and you have no reluctance about it, then by all means commit that amount.

Why do so many pastors preach on the 10% tithe? Two reasons, either they are biblically illiterate or they are taking the easy road instead of teaching you the truth. Both are equally dangerous and unacceptable. I’ve had some admit that it’s just easier to teach the 10% then to try to teach being led by the spirit. The question is, if you commit yourself to only 10% because of bad teaching, what kind of blessing are you robbing yourself of? If you are stuck on the 10% and you truly can not afford it, but insist on giving it because of bad teaching, you are willingly putting yourself in a financial bind.

Under the New Testament and the laws of grace, love and liberty your provision and blessings are not solely tied to your giving. They are tied to your obedience and devotion to Jesus. Giving is certainly a part of that and still commanded, but not the whole equation.

I challenge you and encourage you to study scripture to verify everything your pastor or favorite radio and/or T.V. preacher teaches. Like I’ve said in the past, they are human and their beliefs are tinted by their life experiences. It’s human nature to regurgitate what you’ve been taught if it sounds reasonable instead of researching it yourself.

Don’t allow yourself to be robbed of what God has in store because what He asks you to do is different then what your pastor has preached about.

Andy

Who are the spiritual giants?

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When I think of spiritual giants my mind first goes to people whose names either have gone down in history or will go down in history. Names like Martin Luther, George Whitfield, Charles Spurgeon, Reese Howell, Billy Sunday, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, Francis Chan, Franklin Graham, Heidi Baker, Damon Thompson and Gladys Alyward. I’m sure you could add names of people who are well known that have made multi generational impacts. Sure, these are spiritual giants, icons of the Christian faith, but there are others we overlook.

Each of have people we look to in our local church as giants of the faith. You know the ones, the people who are always busy going about church functions making sure no hole is unfilled. Maybe it’s the person who always has the “church” face on every time you see them at a church function. They always have a word of encouragement, a bold proclamation, they are confident speaking to a crowd and called on to pray. We tend to look to them for spiritual guidance and a godly example.

The problem is we often never see these people outside of a church function. We often never catch them “off guard” out in town. When we do it’s not uncommon for them to disappoint us with their actions and attitude. We tend to put too much expectation on them as they are just people like us. Just because they put on a great game face does not mean they are a spiritual giant.

My wife recently had an encounter with a couple out in town that are considered to be stalwarts of the faith. It was a surprise encounter for both parties. They spoke for a few minutes and my wife shared some health struggles we are having with our daughter. The wife, in an off-handed manner, said we’ll pray for her and walked off while the husband never said a word nor acknowledged her presence.

Now, understand that we are more of a contemporary & charismatic persuasion. We are fans of bold prayers, bold faith and enthusiastic worship. We have had reservations about churches that are more reserved and traditional, appearing to be more concerned with appearance and programs being adhered to on time.

Later in the day my wife had a phone conversation with a friend who attends one of “those” more traditional churches of a main line denomination. She was relaying the news of our daughters health challenges and this friend stopped and said we need to pray now, on the phone then before hanging up apologized for being drowsy from an outpatient procedure a couple of hours earlier. She then spoke to another lady who leads a home school group our daughter is in and this lady told us, again, that she wants to bring us a meal and her church is praying for us.

In this one day the Lord taught us a lesson on spiritual giants. They aren’t always the ones who stand out and are pointed to at church as beacons for the faith. They are the ones who are quite about their faith, but firm in their convictions. They don’t compromise their deeply held beliefs, but aren’t afraid to mingle with others of a different persuasion. They are the ones who go about their day-to-day life with humility and character that no man can say anything bad about. They are not necessarily the loud charismatic ones, but often are the humble prayer warriors that won’t hesitate to intercede on your behalf. They are the ones that don’t cut you down for your failures and faults, but accept you and encourage you to be a better person. The aren’t concerned about behavior control or modification but your coming to know Jesus and letting His spirit do the changing.

If we allow, God will constantly teach us lessons. Some are profound while others are obvious. I encourage you to consider who the people are that you consider a spiritual giant and remember that they are just people and people will let you down eventually. The performance and work are not obvious indicators of spiritual maturity, but stead fastness is.

Andy

What if ………

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” What if? ” is the single greatest question to cause inaction in mankind. More people have robbed their self of a dream,  and very likely their destiny, due to the what if’s in life. They dream up an idea, start to plan on implementing that idea then start asking the million and one ” what if ” questions and talk their self right out of the dream. They get so bogged down on the bad ” what if’s ” that they completely lose sight of the good ” what if’s “.

Some examples of this are switching jobs and start with ” what if I get let go on the probationary period? “. What if they determine you are better suited for another position that pays better?

A person plans on switching careers and wonders ” what if I don’t do well enough to make it? “. What if your success is beyond your imagination?

Someone is contemplating marriage again but gets lost in ” what if this marriage fails too ? “. What if this time around the marriage is exactly as you dreamed it would be?

When making changes, whether it’s growing a business, purchasing new technology, moving, changing careers, any change at all you sit down and do a pro & con list. You do a formal or informal risk v. reward study. You project profit & loss potential then determine to move or not move. At times the risk so out ways the reward it makes sense not to move. Other times it’s even or greater potential for reward and it doesn’t make sense not to move. This is where so many get bogged down and can’t see past the risk.

Every successful person and business has made moves that were failures. They didn’t get where they are without failing somewhere. Many went bankrupt at least once. Henry Ford bet everything on something everyone told him was ludicrous and would fail. Despite this he knew he could and he did, eventually after failing numerous times and losing almost everything in the process he was successful. We remember his success, not his failing.

For some people the decision is a spiritual nature. You know in your spirit you are to do something but you get bogged down in the what if it fails? What if I’m wrong? What if no one comes? What if I can’t do it? Israel had this dilemma when they sent spies to the promised land. Of the group that came back only two said they could do what God told them to do. The rest were frozen with the ” what if we can’t ? “. That turned into we can’t and the ” we can’t ” turned into missing their promised destiny.

This makes me think of all the times we had to contemplate these questions. I look back at it and see what we would have missed if we let those questions immobilize us into inaction. The cost of inaction would have been much greater than the cost of action was. As a matter of fact the rewards have been great in their own right.

When I was about seven months out from discharge I was a bit stressed. The thought of civilian life was pretty daunting. I didn’t know if I would be able to adjust or make enough money to survive. At five months out I had to make a decision and decided to get out. I knew we would get married and I determined in my head that somehow I would make it work.

When we first got involved in inner city ministry there were a lot of ” what if ” and many of those questions had pretty unattractive answers. When we got involved with another inner city ministry at the same time we were involved with the first others thought we were crazy and had plenty of ” what if’s “. Some of those were what if you get attacked? What if you get mugged? What if the car gets stolen? What if someone kills you? Our response was, what’s the worse thing that could happen? We would go see Jesus. For us the question was ” what if we don’t go? “. What if no one tells those kids they are worth something? What if we don’t go and no one loves them for who they are? What if we stay home and no one speaks life into them? What if we don’t and miss God’s next step for us? The cost was greater to not go then it was to go.

When we reconciled our marriage the what if questions were there as well. What if things fail to work out? What if I imagined God’s promise ( although if you talk & listen to Him you will know His voice. )? What if the kids refused to accept her? What if my refusing to be obedient not only robbed me of the blessings of a very good marriage, but it robbed the kids of an intact family and denied them the opportunity to see God fulfill a promise He made to them. Again, the cost of doing nothing was far greater than the cost of moving forward and taking the risk.

When we moved to Texas the lingering question in the back of my mind was ” what if we’re wrong ?”, ” what if we can’t make it and are forced to move back ?” among others. Then it came time to step into a busier time of ministry and the questions persisted, ” what if we fail ?”, ” what if etc….. ?”. When it came time to make a career move, again the what if you don’t do well came up. When we moved to the Hispanic church people planted the ” what if ? ” seeds of doubt over that decision.

What the ” what if’s ? ” that we worry about are nothing more than seeds of doubt being sowed in your mind. If the enemy and other people can hold you back to their level of mediocrity they will. Ignore them and live a full life. Make those big decisions with boldness. Take those risks that others think your crazy for. By sitting back and letting the questions of doubt rob you of moving forward you will relegate your life to a series of mediocre, non life altering and not impacting anyone or anything.  Refuse to settle for being a footnote in a family tree. Be someone others are willing to follow. You never know whose life you will change by taking the risk.

Andy

 

 

 

Do teens have anything to contribute?

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It’s almost a national pastime to criticize teenagers. The older we get the more screwed up the generations behind us are. We complain about the music, we complain about the pointless T.V shows and movies, we complain about the absurd fashion trends, we complain about the new technology that they embrace and anything else that’s different we complain about. You would think that teenagers are nothing but screwballs who wouldn’t know a good thing if it hit them in the head.

The question is, are teenagers just that, screwballs or do they have something of value to contribute to society? The truth is they have as much or as little as the older generations allow. As long as we mentor, disciple, instruct and value them the more they will have. If we criticize, belittle and marginalize they will become angry, cynical adults….like you. If we hear and ask questions about what they have to contribute you might be surprised at what you find. If you shut them down every time they have an idea that involves change they become resentful, surly and jaded by people who have become the very thing they hated in adults when they were teenagers.

I contend that our society expects too little from our youth. We put an emphasis on entertainment and sports expecting them to conform. Yet we don’t know what God has planted in their spirit. When they tell us we tell them they are too young or too inexperienced. We need to move out-of-the-way and let them follow God.
Youth, don’t let an adult discourage you from what you know God has called you to. Don’t let an adult place a “plan” on you that is not what God has planned. Below are examples of youth who shook off societies norms & expectations to do great things.
– Joash was 7 when he became king of Israel.

– Azariah was 16 when he became king.

– Josiah was 8 when he became king.

– David was a boy when he killed a lion, a bear & Goliath. He was also a boy when anointed the next king of Israel.

– Mary was a youth when she gave birth to Jesus.

– Apostle John was believed to be about 14 when he dropped everything to follow Jesus.

– Joseph became head over all of Potiphar’s house.

– Naaman’s servant girl told him where to go to get healed.

– Jeremiah was 17 when he was called to minister to Judah.

– Samuel was about 13 when God called him to minister.

– Timothy was a youth when he took over the church in Ephesus. It was 14 years before Paul instructed him to not let anyone look down on his youth that Paul took him on his missionary journeys.

– Joshua was Moses’s assistant since youth and ultimately led Israel into the promised land.

– Johnathan Edwards (not the senator) had mastered 3 languages by the time he was 13.

– Charles Spurgeon was a pastor by the age of 16.

– Bob Jones, founder of Bob Jones University, was a Sunday School Superintendent by 12 years old. At 13 he preached a sermon that resulted in 54 salvations. At 16 he was pastoring 5 churches that saw 400 new members in the first year from new professions of faith.

– Vance Havner sent sermons to the newspaper at 9 years old, was licensed to preach & delivered his first sermon at 12 and was ordained at 15.

– Billy Graham first preached at 19 years old.

-Virgil Smith was 13 when Hurricane Harvey blew into Houston. He saved 17 of his neighbors on an air mattress.

-17 year olds Thomas Edwards, Richard Dickason, Liam Connor and 15 year old Declan Connor rescued over 50 people in a fishing boot during Hurricane Harvey.

-18 year old Easha Khare invented a battery that can be charged in 20 seconds while still in high school.

-17 year old Kenneth Shinozuka invented socks for Alzheimer’s patients to alert family when they get out of bed. This resulted in his inventing the SafeWander button.

-The River in Tampa FL has an incredible ministry teaching children and youth the Bible, how to put a sermon together, how to pray and baptize and lead people to Jesus. They then take the youth and children to the inner city and allow them to the preaching, witnessing, praying and baptizing. They have seen hundreds saved, baptized and healed in just one year. All at the hands of the young people. The adults teach them, disciple them, mentor them and get out of their way.

-There are countless 18 & 19 year olds in EMS and the Fire Service serving their communities, living a life of sacrifice.

-The military is made up of tens of thousands of 17-19 year olds who volunteered to serve the country.

Teenagers, I challenge you to look up the lives of these people and see what God awakens in you. Don’t settle for societies normal.

Parents, if the organiztions and youth groups you have your youth in are not challenging them to great things it’s time to move them. A youth group that wallows in the mediocre is death to the spirit of someone who needs more and knows there is more.

Parents, teachers, pastors, youth & children’s pastors, do you want to answer to God for talking one of these out of their calling just because it’s extraordinary? Just because it different then your life, just because it’s not what you would call the American dream will you stand in the way? God’s plans will make your plans look foolish.

Andy

 

 

 

Women Pastors

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I’ll tell you upfront that this will be controversial. There will not be a grey area, it’s going to black & white. Those that realize they disagree, please read the whole post before throwing accusations and comments. The title is simple and to the point on purpose. Women pastors, preachers, clergy etc. are a controversial subject that has split churches and congregations. There has been some incredibly stupid arguments for and against. To be upfront with you I believe that women should not hold these positions. Not that they aren’t capable, not that they are not equal to men, but that they were not created to.

The main arguments I hear the most often to justify women in these positions are as follows;

  • The Galatians 3:28 argument that we are equal is in error when it comes to this point. They took the verse grossly out of context to justify a thought. One must read v. 25-29. Then you will see that scripture is speaking of your position with Christ. We are all equal in the eyes of God. You are either clothed in righteousness and a co-heir with Christ or you are not. If you are, all God sees is a righteous child.
  • Deborah judged Israel so women can pastor a church. In Judges 4 – 5 it mentions Deborah as a judge. It also mentions that because the men wouldn’t do what they were supposed to they would receive no glory because a woman would defeat the enemy. God’s plan from day one was for men to rule and steward everything God put in their possession. When they neglect their duties things go awry. In this case God put Deborah as a judge over Israel as a rebuke, shaming the men for advocating their responsibilities. A simple study of the culture in that time will reveal this.
  • The women Paul commended and praised for their hard work in the church surely tells us that women can lead a church. No, they did not hold authoritative positions to include teaching men. They were instrumental in the running of the church in other areas.
  • We feel that women can, and should, do everything a man can do. After all, we don’t live in the stone ages. The problem starts with “feel”. Feel is an emotion and decisions based on emotions always cause problems. When we justify something due to feelings we nearly always compromise truth.

The reasons why I say women should not be in these positions is equally straightforward. Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:12-15, counselled the church on the subject. This is extremely unpopular today and much time has been spent trying to explain it away as not being relevant for today.

Problem one is women are not permitted to teach men because Adam was created first. When Adam was created he was given dominion and authority over everything. Everything received it’s identity from Adam. Eve was created last as a help-meet. That’s a hard one to explain in todays culture, but to make it simple it’s much more than a helper and companion. The popular term “soul mate” doesn’t even touch the significance nor the importance of this. You can not have two leaders. The term too many chiefs and not enough indians comes to mind.

The woman was deceived first. Why was this? It’s a good question that I have not found the answer to in scripture. I can guess that she was deceived due to the enemy playing on her emotions and emotional decisions tend to cause a lot of trouble. This is just conjecture though.

Trying to explain this away as not relevant for today raises the question, what else in the Bible isn’t relevant? If this no longer applies does making Jesus your Lord and savior no longer apply? What about honoring your father and mother, does it no longer apply? What about marriage that’s acceptable according to scripture…oops, we already threw that overboard. See how easy it is to discount more and more passages once you start tossing the ones you don’t like? It’s a deadly slippery slope.

God is a god of order. Everything has a purpose and a plan. He is the head, he appointed man to be His second in command here on earth ( see Ephesians 5:22-33 ) and the wife is second to the husband in authority. She is his equal in the eyes of God with a different position with different responsibilities. If you have a woman running the church she will be running the house. Again, you can not have to leaders. The idea of co-leaders is absurd and is a concilation to the sore looser. It doesn’t work, it never worked and never will. The two leaders will overshadow the organization with their disputes and disagreements creating chaos.

The woman being deceived brought about a curse. Part of the curse is the woman shall desire her husband’s position, but he will rule over her ( Genesis 3:16 ). We have women everywhere insisting on taking the mans position as if they have something to prove. Why would they want to take the man’s part of the burden from the curse as well as their own? It makes sense only in that it’s part of the curse.

Just the way 1 Timothy 2 has been explained away as not relevant for today causes much confusion. We lament that our men will not lead, they will not take the appointed position in the home or the church. Numerous studies show that women truly want a man who will lead in a Godly manner. We blame it on the culture and secularism. We blame it on the women’s liberation movement, behavior modifying drugs like Ritalin and anything but the church.

The truth is the church has caused the problem. In its desire to be culturally relevant, appeasing the “un-churched” we have shown our boys that the Bible isn’t that important. We don’t really believe what it says, despite what we say. We say we believe the whole Bible then allow women to preach and hold authority over men, then say that part of the Bible doesn’t apply any longer. Kids are not stupid and they grow up to be skeptical adults who say if that’s not relevant then the parts about being in fellowship with other believers, tithing, not being drunk, not having sex before marriage is not relevant either.

We tell them to lead then put women in leadership over them from the earliest days of Sunday school. We send them to VBS to be led by women. We send them home to a house run by a women with a submissive husband. We send them to school where the teachers are predominantly women and celebrate when women are ordained and lead a church. Then we wring our hands and wonder why men won’t lead. The answer is right here, you have shown them they really don’t have to. The Bible wasn’t serious about that.

Women do have a very important and vital role to play in ministry. Ministering, to disciple and mentore younger women. Titus 2 tells women to teach and instruct younger women. Women have a unique gift for hospitality that men just don’t have. There are many functions in the church that would be a disaster without the womans touch. Women are great comforters for the sick and the elderly. Women have a heightened sensitivity to spiritual things that a wise man will consider. Women can relate and speak a language that other woman understand. She can phrase things in a way that I can’t that will make sense to another woman. Whereas my response most likely will be unintentionally brash and offensive due to my not understanding the real issue.

What about women like Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore? They have women’s ministry, that’s their target. I’m not getting into the theology of what they teach, but the target demographic is women. As such there is no problem with their ministries. If men chose to put their selves in a position to sit under their teaching that is on them.

A question was posed on Church For Men on Facebook. The individual stated that his wife was a Presbyterian minister in California. She pastored a small church then moved on to a larger church. He felt isolated as the pastors husband and emasculated. He feels that he can’t discuss it with her as the pastor because of their relationship. When the natural order of things, as God placed them, is upended to appease feelings and secular culture the toll is high. In this case the toll is emasculated men who will not stand up to their potential, their calling and their anointing. Thereby creating a crisis in our culture, families and churches.

There’s much more I can say, but at over 1,500 words I’ll resist the urge. Understand that I’m not saying women who have taken positions in the church that put them over men are bad. Simply misguided and their pastors are at fault. The more the church strives to be relevant and hip to the prevailing cultural trends the less relevant and influential it becomes. Foresaking the truth for popularity only undermines ones credibility.

Andy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A motto for the new year.

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I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone claim a saying or a motto as their own. They say that they live their life by this motto or that motto. A number of them are not really motto’s as such, but some are. Going into the new year a good motto to live 2018 by is ” Forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead “. What better way to live in the ” today ” and press towards the future then to shed the weight of the past!

How many people have things in the past that continue to hold them back year after year, decade after decade never letting them go? How many do this willingly and how many suffer this because those around them won’t let them forget? The only way to look forward is to not look back.

We’ve all made mistakes, but those mistakes don’t define us. They are lessons and experiences that shape and mold us. They make up the life experience that we view the world through. The only thing that defines us is us. You define yourself, no one else does unless you give them permission.

A few quotes about looking to the past and looking at the future:

” Remember not the former things, neither consider the past. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! “.

” Don’t long for the good old days, this is not wise “.

” Let your eyes look straight ahead and your eyelids look forward. ”

The point with these is the past is like a marble placed in a jar that is tied to a tree. You are the monkey that wants that marble, you stick your hand in the jar to grab the marble. Now you made a fist to hold onto it and can’t get your hand out of the jar. Your stuck there unable to move on until the hunter ( life ) comes along and knocks you out. Yes, holding onto the past is that silly.

You notice how when life is knocking you down those around you sympathize? You notice how when you are starting to turn things around those same people start criticizing you, telling you that you can’t do it, you’re not good enough? They are like crabs in a bucket. One tries to get out the others try to pull you back in. Those people are not our friends. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Part of forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead is forgetting the people who were part of your past. It’s better to be momentarily lonely while you build a new life then to be surrounded by those who will keep reminding you of your failures.

That short time alone will be one of the best gifts you ever gave yourself. It will remove all the clutter and noise from others that have kept you from the quiet times that teach you who you really are. So many people don’t know what they really like and dislike because they have been following the crowd they run with. You might be surprised at what you like and don’t like.

Now, all the quotes so far have come from the Bible. Imagine that! Wisdom that makes sense today from a book compiled from letters dating back thousands of years. The first quote was from the Apostle Paul and is found in Philippians 3:13. The next is from Isaiah 43:18-19. Then Ecclesiastes 7:10 and finally Proverbs 4:25.

A few more words of wisdom from the Bible about looking to the past. In Luke Jesus said that anyone who has put their hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.  When you think about this it makes sense. If you keep looking back, how straight will your path or plowed row be? It won’t be straight at all. It will be curved and meander all over the place. You will completely miss the mark you were aiming for. It’s like driving a car while only looking in the rear view mirror. It won’t be long until you run off into the ditch or hit someone else.

Some people will keep telling you that you’re a drunk or a druggie. They might say you’re a whore or worthless. They may say your financially irresponsible or once poor you’ll always be poor. They may say you’re a liar and a cheat. They may tell you that you’re an adulterer and don’t deserve it. Those are the ones you need to get rid of. If you are a follower of Jesus you are made new. It tells us that in 2 Corinthians 5:17 ” Therefor, if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation; old things have passed away, behold all things are new. “. Another way to say it this, anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, a new one has begun!

This means you were an addict, but not now. Look to the future!

You might have been an adulterer, but not now. Look to the future!

You might have been a liar and a cheat, but not any longer. Look to the future!

This is why I have a problem with 12 step programs. They are good intentioned and have helped millions, but they always throw your failure in your face everytime you go to a meeting and stand up saying ” Hi, I’m Tom and I’m an alcoholoc “. That’s living in the past defeats. If you are a child of God, a follower of Christ Jesus you are made whole, made new, no longer an alcoholic or whatever addiction it is. Not to say the struggle might not still be there. It might, but you are not that thing anymore.

Any New Years resolution you make will ultimately fail or be tainted by the past as long as you are willing to hold on to that marble. Let it go and build the new life, the better future. Despite some consequences from the past that may still be with you, you are not defined by that unless you want to be.

Grab 2018 by the horns, put away the things of the past and look to the future!

Andy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your New Year

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You all survived Christmas. Some of you, like us, will celebrate Christmas today. We all have an eye to the new year that is just a few days away. The looming question everyone asks is, what are your New Years Resolutions? Often people are put on the spot with no clear resolution and make one up on the fly. Once it’s out the mouth, it’s in the head and in some weird way it becomes a defacto resolution that we will most likely break.

That’s the thing with resolutions, we set our selves up for failure when making them. We start with something like getting out of debt this year, I want to be my high school graduation weight or pre-baby weight, I want to finish a degree, I want to break the 350 LBS mark on the bench press, I want to run a marathon and the list goes on and on in regards to resolutions. We don’t prepare ourselves to succeed, we don’t lay out a game plan on how we’ll do it. We just try and fail, then feel bad about ourselves.

Some of our resolutions are unrealistic, but sound good. It sounds great to say I want to be out of debt this year. If your $200,000 in debt and make $50,000 a year it won’t happen. Loosing weight sounds great, but if your 250 LBS and want to get down to 120 LBS you’ll most likely fail without a well placed plan. These are great ideas and should be pursued. If these are your resolutions, don’t give up, just lay a realistic plan that is achievable.

Maybe you want to read the whole Bible this year. That’s great, pick a reading plan and stick to it. If you commit to a plan it’s easier to keep your focus day after day instead of picking the book up and after a week your still in Genesis, get discouraged and don’t complete it. There are numerous plans on line and with apps like YouVersion. Maybe you want to read a number of books but get overwhelmed by the number of pages. Set a plan to read a certain number of pages a day. If you want to read a 300 page book a month read 10 pages a day and you’ll have a spare day. 10 pages really isn’t that much and before you know it the book is done.

Many make resolutions that someone else made. They are comparing their self to someone else. You are actually encouraging yourself to be someone you are not. You will never find fulfillment, success or peace trying to make accomplishments, meeting goals and fulfilling resolutions based off of someone else. They have a different purpose, different calling, different means and opportunities and different talents and gifts.

The way to be successful is to know your talents and gifts. Make your first resolution to honestly identify your talents and gifts. Once you’ve identified those determine how those fit into your current career. Maybe they don’t fit at all and you can set the course to make changes to better fit them. Making that transition may require setting a couple year plan on how to get out of debt.

Another way to be successful is to not compare yourself to anyone else. Compare yourself today to yourself yesterday. Are you a better person? Have you grown in any area? Have you grown spiritually? Have you added another day to your sobriety? Did you come another day closer to being out of debt? Did you get one day closer to breaking the bad eating habits? Often times the day-to-day successes are much easier to manage, cope with and ultimately lead to the year and multiple years of success. Don’t get lost in the long-term goal. Set the long term goal and focus on the short-term goals that will get you to the long term goal.

I wish you the best of luck in the new year with what ever resolution you make.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays and much success in 2018.

Andy

R.E.D This Holiday Season

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The R.E.D movement has been around for a few years. It’s predominantly been known as R.E.D Friday’s, Remember Everybody Deployed or Everyone Deployed. As we are in the middle of the holiday season we should remember everyone deployed on a regular basis.

According to the Visual Capitalist we have 200,000 troops deployed to 177 countries. This number doesn’t count the number of Sailors and Marines on ship as they are not in a specific country. It also does not count the number of troops stationed in places like Guam, Hawaii, Alaska & Puerto Rico as these are part of the U.S. It also doesn’t include troops stationed across the country from where they are from and will not be home for the holidays nor the reserve and National Guard troops on active duty deployments with in the U.S. to places like Washington D.C or the Southern border region. Most likely this number also excludes military personnel stationed at the 294 U.S embassies and consulates ( 294 locations according to Mic.com ).

The point is we have a large portion of our military that will not be home for any part of the holidays. A few are fortunate enough to be stationed close enough or have the finances to get home for a few days leave or a 96 hour pass. The rest will spend the holiday season away from home, away from their families, children & spouses. All though they all volunteered for a million different reasons, it still does not make being away from home easier.

Some are in hostile areas like Iraq and Afghanistan or areas with a better than average chance of hostile intent. A good number are in South Korea & Japan where they are under the uncertain threat of North Korea. Others are with the U.N in Bosnia, yes we still have peacekeepers there. Their celebrations will be dampened or very limited due to cultural sensitivities or mission demands.

Regardless of where they are, it’s not home. It’s different and foreign. Even with their brothers and sisters in arms, even with the celebrations and partying, even with the comradery and high morale voiced in letters, emails and phone calls, it’s still not the same and it’s lonely. They will always look on these times with fondness because they are with those they have a strong bond with. A bond that is often stronger than the bond between siblings and parent and child. They will reminisce with fondness and longing for those times to the dismay of those around them that didn’t experience the same things. But, at the end of the day, when it’s lights out and they are alone with their thoughts there is the feeling of loneliness and a sadness of what is being missed ” back home”. It’s a time of year when depression sets in easier and deeper.

This is a time when care packages have a special significance and will always be remembered with great fondness. When the little things like new socks or a new movie will be envied by those who haven’t received their package from home yet. Some never receive a package from home making this time of year that much harder. It’s often the little things that most of you would laugh off that is gold to them. Things like stateside Copenhagen for instance. That’s like the gold standard and it’s OK that you don’t understand it.

In showing your appreciation for our troops this year, keep in mind that just because they aren’t in a hostile environment it doesn’t negate the fact that they are not home. Keep them in your mind as you pray for them this holiday season. Be mindful when you see a charity like M.O.M’s putting together care packages or Truckers for Troops and the USO. Ask your relatives who are stationed and deployed away from home who in their unit doesn’t receive anything and get a few people together to send a package. You have no idea the morale boost that comes with something as simple as having your name called during mail call.

To you serving away from home, I remember the feeling and won’t forget. Stay strong, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Semper Fi!

Andy