Posted by: whereintheworldismike | September 30, 2015

Lead the Church Now! 2

He is the youngest of six children. Almost immediately after his birth, his father lost his job and their family went overnight from middle class to a lifestyle of extreme poverty. This boy often heard family members and friends of his parents loosely comment, “This boy is so unlucky—look what has happened to the family since he was born.”[1] Needless to say, this powerful man of God grew up and struggled for years with feelings that he was to blame for his family’s loss and pain. If he had not worked on his issues with the Lord’s strong help, he would not have such great influence having been used of God to accomplish so much for the Kingdom of God.

The new pastor was a “rock star”—a very gifted communicator with a charismatic, winning personality. The church faithful widely saw his coming as ushering in a new generation of dynamic growth amidst widespread apostasy. The sudden blow knocked the wind out of everyone who heard—he had succumbed to one of the temptations that always comes with increased influence. The hurt and even damage to faith of many will last for years. Pastors as well as flock need close community that can provide the shelter of real accountability and support during the inevitable assaults on a leader’s character and credibility. We in the Church must not “eat our wounded” but provide a path for restoration for the truly repentant.

We hear of pastoral failures almost daily. We can count on the fact that the news media will trumpet from the rooftops any significant missed step by church leadership if the public footprint is big enough.

It just confirms the common perception of the general populace, that Christians may talk a good game but are often shown to be mere hypocrites.

One of the clearest but most neglected teachings in the New Testament is the distinction between salvation and reward. All who rest on the foundation, namely, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11), will be saved. This is more than intellectual assent but includes heart devotion and a commitment to live under the Lordship of the King of Kings Jesus. Such are assured of heaven. That is given to us; it is a free gift (Rom. 6:23). But not all who are saved will receive a reward” (1 Cor. 3:14-15).

The great Apostle Paul stated, But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). “It was the reward that Paul was after. He could not bear the thought of seeing others get a reward, then he himself be rejected for this reward, crown, or prize. However, he knew this was possible. He dreaded the shame of being openly rejected for this prize more than anything. That is why he concerned himself with keeping his body under subjection even after preaching to many and establishing churches all over the then known world.

The problem is that we are most naturally inclined to ask, “If I have Christ what else do I need?” Remember the inspired reminder, “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). How we live does matter. We have to serve somebody, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you’ve got to serve somebody” (Bob Dylan).

The inspired Word of God repeats an outlandish promise that we can ask for whatever and receive it (Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24; John 14:13; John 15:16; John 16:23). The key here is that what we ask for glorifies God and flows from a fruitful life. If we pay lip service to God and then live for ourselves, we should not be confident that we will receive what we ask for in prayer. In a sense it is easier for our brethren who live in dire circumstances rather than the relative wealth and ease we find ourselves enmeshed in.

I have been told by several of our country leaders who face overt persecution often: 1) they have repeatedly seen God act in response to prayer, 2) As hard as it is, some pray for more persecution because as they say, “the church always grows when we are persecuted”, 3) God’s care becomes personal when imprisonment and beatings are frequent. Sometimes serendipitous warnings protect and “all clear” heard lets them know life can go on.

It’s time to draw near to Jesus through interactive prayer, be changed by the encounter, and then live fruitful lives continually receiving what we need to do His will.

[1] DeVisser, Adrian. Journey of Grace: Finding Emotional Healing in a Broken World. 2014. P. 9. ISBN9781938624940 (print version).

[2] R.T. Kendall. God Gives Second Chances: How to Get Up, Dust Off, and Be Used Again by God When You Fall (2008). P. 33.


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