Archive for July, 2011
As we sat there, listening to Yousef, I must admit that I was impressed with the amount of carefree spirit he now possesses. He says he is unconcerned about whether he lives or dies. He believes, as should all authentic Christians, that his life is in God’s hands. Because of that, he just does not care what might befall him. He has stated that he travels the globe, yet does not see his family. That makes sense because if he did in fact, become a Christian, then he would be treated as if he did not exist and if the chance was ever there, he would be killed because he has left Islam and become an infidel. In fact, he has become worse than an infidel because Muslims would say that he once knew the “truth” (Islam) yet left it for something inferior; something that is a lie.
Islam will not stop until they are forced to do and the difficult for civilized people is that Islam is prepared to go to the mat for what they believe? The question for us is, are we?
There is enough evidence through manuscripts, comparative readings, reason, and history to
demonstrate that the Byzantine Text‐Type should not be discarded for its value in determining
the original writings of the Apostles. It is my opinion, not dogmatic however, that the King
James and the New King James are sound
witnesses to God’s Word, and can (and should) be
used by serious students of the Christian Faith. I believe that anyone attempting to study God’s
Word will benefit more from the New King James, if only because of the changes to the archaic
language, and for its diligence in providing notes on the variations in the differing texts. That is
not to say that the New King James is superior. It is not. No translation is perfect, and it is
incumbent upon the reader to search the Scriptures as the Bereans did to find out the truth.
Radical Muslims call me an infidel because I am not Muslim. I have now also been called an infidel by people who worship the KJV of the Bible. They would say they do not worship it, but simply revere it. I disagree. With the amount of vehemence, they are either worshiping it or simply protesting way too much.
Discussing politics is not my favorite subject simply because it seems that there is way too much politicking going on and it angers me. Politicians are too concerned about scratching each other’s backs in order to garner votes for their pet projects than doing what is actually best for this country.
The other day, my brother-in-law had to put down his cat. The only other choice was to bring it home and watch it die, which would have been unnecessary and inhumane. Whenever some animal or human being dies, I
am reminded that we did this to ourselves. In Adam and Eve, absolute free will was brought to bear on a perfect Creation and the choice was made to go against the perfection that God had created. The result has been absolutely
devastating and it continues today through those who refuse to see things God’s way.
Fortunately, may God be praised, His will reigns supreme though many refuse to recognize it that way. God’s will is and will be accomplished, whether we like it or not. All I can say to that is AMEN!
The book of Zechariah is fantastic in so many ways. This fourteen-chapter book is filled with evidences of God’s faithfulness among the nations, specifically with respect to Israel. He not only speaks of things that have occurred in our past – from the perspective of 2011 – but also speaks through Zechariah to point out things that will occur in the future from 2011.
TEASE: Self and the ministry. Sounds like it couldn’t happen, but we all know differently, don’t we? I’m Dr. Fred. Stay tuned for Study-Grow-Know!
Thanks for joining me today. I’m Dr. Fred and you’re listening to another broadcast of Study-Grow-Know, where it is our goal to help you study to grow through knowledge of God’s Word.
As I have repeatedly pointed out since the beginning of this series, SELF can and often is a very potent cocktail that many of us have a hard time fighting against. In fact, without the Holy Spirit, it would be impossible to gain the victory over SELF.
We have seen how SELF can affect all areas of our life, money, politics, attitudes, the type of groups and causes we become affiliated with and so much more. For the unsaved individual, SELF is the center from which all decisions are made. For the saved individual, SELF continues to battle for supremacy and without constant submission to the Holy Spirit, SELF will gain and maintain that supremacy.
Can SELF even go so far as to demand its way in the ministry? Absolutely. We’ve all heard of self-centered individuals who have some type of ministry who promote it as if their lives depend upon it. For them, it probably does, but what is the actual purpose of any ministry?
The answer to that is that anything the Lord calls us to do is for the purpose of glorifying HIM. God has no interest or desire in sharing His glory with another and that’s from Isaiah 60:1-2. Yet, as often happens, when God calls someone to any type of ministry, it may not be that long before SELF begins to seek its own, clawing its way to the top.
How is this done? SELF can be extremely secretive and surreptitious. It hides its true motivation because if we see that, we will do what we can to negate it.
The ministry is for one purpose: to glorify God. If so, then the question to ask is why do we – as His children – feel so responsible for the way things LOOK?
In other words, as often CAN happen, God may choose to place a person in some type of ministry. In short order, the person may begin to feel as though they are responsible for the expansion of that ministry. They may begin to believe that they have to do what they can to make that ministry grow, instead of simply trusting God and allowing Him to lead. It can actually become a deadly trap.
Many pastors have left one church for another solely because the church has not grown fast enough for their likes. They see the success of their ministry in quantity as opposed to quality. This is clearly not the way God sees it.
Christian authors tend to see success in the same way. As I have mentioned before, I have written just under 30 books. Not long ago, a person approached me out of the blue to write a chapter for one of his books. He is well known in certain circles within Christendom. He was going to act as editor of the next book, with various authors each submitting individual chapters. After he approached me, it seemed to me that this was the Lord’s leading. We went back and forth a few times via e-mail and it was decided that I would write one of the chapters consisting roughly of 5,000 words. As you can imagine, I was excited and set to work immediately. Once completed, I sent the draft to him.
He responded that it was good and I should send the actual Word doc to him for his editor to have. I had sent the draft in with the proviso that anything he wanted changed would be fine. He should just let me know.
We communicated further and then eventually, he stated that due to the many things going on in his life, he would literally be incommunicado for a number of months. Certainly, I understood. The book he was putting together was supposed to come out in October, 2011 or so.
As you can imagine, I was excited. This would greatly expand my area of ministry. The Lord was obviously leading. But was He?
A few months later – around July – I opened up a newsletter and saw a book from this author/publisher. I didn’t necessarily think anything of it until I took a close look at the title and contents and realized that this was the book that my chapter was to be part of, yet the name of the book had changed. Excitedly, I scanned the names of the authors and the chapters…and could not find my name. There must be some mistake, right? I did more research and found that my chapter was not to be found. So what did this mean? It meant that the man who had sought me out had apparently decided that he no longer wanted to include my chapter and simply dropped it.
As you can imagine, I was severely disappointed. I had been expecting my chapter to be included in the book and the last I heard was that it was going to be. Since then, there was not a word that the chapter would not be included. In fact, there had been no communication at all and to date; I have no idea why my chapter was not included in the book.
My disappointment was real and I took it to the Lord. The question I had to ask myself was this: why had I simply assumed that the Lord was leading here when I had been first contacted out of the blue? Looking back, I had not even taken the time to pray about it. So in the end, when all was said and done, God is the One who opted to not have my chapter included in this man’s book. God has his purposes and just as Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, God’s purposes in that situation were far higher than anything Joseph or his brothers could comprehend at that time. In fact, it was nearly twenty years later before Joseph realized why God had done what He had done.
My point is simple. If I have a ministry at all, it is God’s ministry in and through me. To act as though the ministry He has given me is truly my ministry is to negate God’s continued work in and through me to make His purposes happen.
I can write book after book and naturally want them to sell in tremendous numbers. What if God does not? If I am not tuned into His frequency, then I will be met with disappointment. It has taken me a long time to literally “let go” of my book sales and leave them in His able hands. The sales are His responsibility. My responsibility is to write them. His responsibility is to move them.
I’m sure that when the human authors of various parts of the Bible wrote what God wanted written, they were not concerned about making sure that everyone read their words. By this I mean that their job was not to become the literary agent after they wrote their part of the Bible. And by the way, I am not equating what I write with the fully inspired Word of God. There’s no comparison.
If we look at many places in the Bible, the prophets of old who spoke were often ridiculed and even killed because of what they wrote. Today, we Christians want fame and we measure that fame by numbers and the way people react to us. If they like what we’re doing, then we must be fulfilling God’s will, right? Not according to the book of Acts.
What pastor does not want to pastor a large church? He believes that he is teaching the Word of God; so naturally, he wants as many people to hear that truth as possible. What happens though, if God has decided that the pastor in question will preach to a small group of people for years? This small group of people will become well-equipped saints, people who are then able to spread the Word of God very clearly in word and deed. The pastor though may be tempted to believe that he is not successful because of numbers.
There are many pastors who lead extremely large churches. Many of these so-called Mega-Churches have 10,000 to 40,000 people every week! Such success, we think! These pastors must be doing something right! Not necessarily. They could be, in fact, simply scratching the ears of the people who listen to them week after week. Maybe they are preaching an extremely watered down version of the gospel, or no gospel at all. If you remove the sin and damnation from the gospel for those who are perishing, what you are left with is love, love, love, and who does not want to hear about love?
God does not judge by externals and the temptation of people is to do just that. We judge ourselves and our ministries by the way things appear on the outside. If my books sell like hotcakes, then God must be in it, right? If a person is very busy as a conference speaker at Bible conferences, he must be right smack in the middle of God’s will, right?
When I was an actor, I soon realized that it was all about networking. The more people you know, the greater your chances of getting your foot in the door for that movie or play, or this other one. Networking is what makes Hollywood what it is for the average person. Even then though, it is extremely difficult to break in because Hollywood is also filled with so many charlatans. They are out for your dollar.
Is the ministry that much different? Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t that much better. It’s almost as if we believe that God can’t do anything unless we network, or take out huge ads about the books we right, or hobnob with those who are “successful” in the ministry.
We are getting ready to relocate out of California. We are not really clear on what God would have us do beyond that, frankly. However, I am certain that He will tell us as we need to know. If He told us now, the chances are great that I would try to make things happen my way, not His. So for our benefit, He holds off letting us know all of His plans so that we don’t run ahead of Him and also so that Satan cannot go ahead of us and try to keep God’s will from occurring.
It may be that God will have us plant a church. I have never really been open to that until recently. I have not wanted to pastor a church, but what if the Lord wants me to? Do I say “No thanks, Lord”? How do you say “no” and “Lord” in the same sentence? What if the church He wants to me to plant and pastor is destined by Him to remain small for as long as I pastor it? What then? Do I see myself as a failure because of that? I do only if I look to numbers.
Maybe our relocating from California to another state is merely a way station on the way to the fulfillment of His will. What if He is moving us out of California to simply and temporarily locate to another state only to determine that He is ultimately relocating us to some third world country where we will live in abject poverty until He takes us home? Do I rebel at the thought, do I complain that it is not “successful” enough for me, or do I agree that His will is supreme and needs to be obeyed unconditionally?
The reality for me is that SELF has all sorts of ways of making us think that God’s will is this or that, when in reality, His actual will is in another direction altogether. I have spent sleepless nights wondering for instance, why some months my books seem to hardly move, while during other months, they seem to fly off the shelves. I have actually tried to figure that out so that I could do something that brings consistency to my sales.
What I have finally had to admit is that God is in control of my book sales, just like He is in control of everything else. I did not like hearing that at first, but then I noticed that I don’t need to be emotionally involved in it. He will provide and He will move those books as He sees the need to move them. It is the same with everything else He does in my life.
If I preach somewhere and only one person is moved by it, is that “successful”? Absolutely, by God’s standards. If I write a book and ten copies sell, but out of those, nine people love it, are moved by it, and gain a closer relationship with God because of it, is that successful? Without doubt.
SELF has its standards for success, and rarely if ever are those standards in line with God’s standards. Most of the time, SELF wants to be puffed up and to be the center of attention.
I have even thought about this: what if God is having me write the books I write so that they become successful AFTER I am gone from this life? If that is His plan, is that all right with me? It had better be, because if it is not, then I am asking for trouble.
What if after the Rapture occurs, people who have attended church but never received His salvation find out about some of my books and begin voraciously reading them, is that a good thing? You bet it is even though I will not be receiving the royalties and will have no knowledge of it because I won’t be here.
At the same time, because of the lives that will/may be changed because of reading my books after I am gone, the Lord is obviously using the books that I believe He prompted me to write in order to bring those who thought they knew Him but didn’t, into a real relationship with Him. Am I still “credited” with that so to speak? Yes, and because of it, He is glorified.
How many men of God were not really known until after they passed from this life to the next? They wrote truth. They wrote things that fully glorified God and yet God chose to not really make those works known until well after they had died. He likely did this for a variety of reasons and a large one probably had to do with keeping SELF at bay. Had the individual’s books become famous during that person’s life time, SELF might have easily pushed its way to the top, grabbing the spotlight from God. God knows what is best for us and what is best for us is to remain in the background, something we do not like.
There were times when Jesus had virtually no followers besides His twelve. Everyone deserted Him. On the night He was illegally tried and then crucified, He was virtually alone. All of His followers had scattered. On the cross, even God the Father turned His back on God the Son for a period of time. Jesus was truly alone. By all human accounts, His ministry was an abject failure, yet it was the most successful ministry that ever existed! In fact, His ministry is STILL ongoing through US! We need to remember that. It is His ministry through US, not OUR ministry for HIM!
How about John the Baptist, was he successful? Without doubt, yet to look at the man and to see how his disciples went from following him to following Jesus might cause the average person (and even many Christians) to say that John was not successful. Yet, he fulfilled God’s will for his life as the one who came crying in the wilderness to prepare the way for the Lord!
Was Paul successful? Of course he was, in spite of the fact that he at one point said that everyone had deserted him (cf. 2 Timothy 4:16). Most of the time, it was just Paul and Luke, who traveled with Paul as his physician.
SELF is so insidious. It is so sneaky in its designs. It refuses to give credit where credit is due and will stand in God’s way at every opportunity. SELF should always be repudiated, but the problem is that SELF is often extremely difficult to see in ourselves. We believe our desires are so altruistic, but are they? We think we want God glorified, but do we?
When we pray for His will, we need to mean it. We need to stop looking at circumstances as if they are an accurate reflection of what God considers to be successful or not. SELF will always makes us feel that we are not successful enough, that we have not tried enough avenues that we have networked enough. The truth of the matter is that if we truly want God’s will, we need to stop looking at externals to determine whether or not we have found His will and are walking in it.
There was a time when I fancied myself a speaker at this conference or that. Certainly, if the Lord opens the door, that’s fine. But I am not going to try to make it happen at all. He may have other plans that I cannot even see yet.
SELF is something that needs to be rebuffed at every turn. It needs to be ignored. It needs to be rebuked. The first step in doing that is to redefine our understanding of “success” in ministry. SELF has no business trying to help us serve God, because SELF will ultimately turn that service over to itself.
If we allow it, God will direct our steps. Whether we like the way those steps look is not the issue. The only issue is whether or not He is directing our steps. If SELF is directing our steps, we may be tempted to think that the success we are experiencing is from God. We need to get passed that to embrace the fact that it is good enough for us to be way in the background, directing all the attention to our Lord, our God, and our Savior. SELF won’t allow that, but that is what God wants and deserves. Whom do you serve?
So what about you? God has shown His love by becoming fully human (while retaining His deity) in order to fulfill the Law that neither you or I could fulfill. Because He did everything perfectly, He was found worthy – worthy – to offer Himself as atonement for your sin and mine. That was His love at work. Have you received or rejected it?
In the future, God will send judgments to this earth and people will still continue to reject God. It does not seem to matter what He does because people will find a way to reject Him. If it were not for the fact that He has called some, no one would receive Him. It is because at every turn, free will always rejects authority and ultimately, that authority is God Himself.
In the wake of the massacre in Oslo, Norway, once again, the issue of Christians and Christianity comes to the fore, simply because the individual in question who perpetrated such a heinous crime against humanity stated that he is a Christian. He also pretended to be a police officer during the commission of his crimes, but no one buys that. Apparently, it’s easier to believe that an insane individual who could unblinkingly kill people at random, could also be a Christian.