Agreement and Disagreements

Agreement and Disagreements

I have been thinking lately of a few scriptures that I think have been misused and misapplied to disagreements among brothers of the faith. I think there is a real difference between mature men in the faith disagreeing and someone sinning against a brother.

Matthrew 18:[15] Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. [16] But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. [17] And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

This passage gives the process of how to deal with an notable and significant offense among two brothers. First, is this offense something large enough that it cannot be removed in your personal time of prayer by releasing it to The Lord? Have you even prayed about it? Are you really letting something small become a mountain? Sometimes we just need to “man up” and know that things happen unintentionally. Let it go and release it to The Lord. By doing this you allow the Holy Spirit to mature you and you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your brother.

Second. If it something that you feel must be approached then you are to go to the offending brother. Not to accuse but to to arrive at the place of reconciliation, forgiveness and healing.

Third, if the offending brother is not approachable then after a season of time bring others into the communication. Again, not to harass but to bring reconciliation, forgiveness and healing. At this point it is also to expose error which could bring division not only between you and him but he and the body of Christ.

There are more steps that I think should be approached carefully but I want to go on from this to where I am seeing some misuse of this passage. It seems that this passage is used by individuals in roles of authority to reprimand those who serve with them or below them for calling out concerns with leadership decisions. God does lift men into leadership roles to help the body. These offices should be revered and honored. Loyalty should be afforded at every junction possible. But here is where I am concerned about leadership. It has never been the individuals right of leadership to not be open to the critique of his fellow brother. No man is set in a position to live and rule empirically over the body of Christ. Especially in a democratic form of church government. If that is the chosen form of government of the church body, then honor the process. Men are chosen among their peers to serve their peers as the ministry serves the church. These individuals are special for the season of their service. This is not because of the position but because of the confidence placed in them by their fellow members. Since they are placed in leadership by them, then leadership should be administrated to help find the will of God for the church, with them and not without them. Leaderships challenge is to move others to the place God is calling them to go. That will be impossible without consensus, clarity and communion.

The Apostle Paul challenged Simon Peter publicly in Galatians for his public hypocrisies. He did not go privately because Simon Peters errors were public and too significant not to call out so that others would not practice the same actions. This was not for reconciliation, forgiveness or healing. This was for correction to the body of Christ where Simon was leading.

Galatians 2:11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. [12] Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. [13] The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
[14] When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

Simon Peters response is not noted in the passage, but we can assume he humbly fell in line with his brothers correction. Why would he not fall in place? His brother in the Lord, his fellow servant and laborer for the gospel, was telling him the truth. Paul was concerned with the greater good of the Church and the truth of the Gospel. Truth and righteousness was more important than any one man’s feelings or role. This was an issue that was central to the Gospel and demanded attention.

I personally do not believe administrative, organization structures or any other human form of government would have been on Paul’s radar nor on the Holy Spirits mind. I think we even today are too concerned with those things that are merely tools rather than tasks mandated by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. If those who are having to live with the administration are happy then be happy and vote among yourselves those forms in place. Let God get glory out of the Gospel and don’t allow the Gospel to be hindered by administration or lack thereof.

What if Simon had quoted Matthew 18 to Paul? He would have been in error. He would have been marginalizing a man God had made his equal. He would have been making a mistake that would have been detrimental to the body of Christ. Never demean, defame or demonize your brethren because of disagreements. Contend for the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to bring unity and communion.

Leaders, we do damage to our God given leadership roles when we place ourselves in a superior role to our brethren. A position is not ours to use as a place to shut down dialogue and debate. Allow others to contend in a biblical way with the operation of the Church. If as a leader one still feels that God is directing down a certain path, then do it with the blessing of both those who agree and disagree. But never use the scripture to make those God has raised up and used as men who sin or stir strife. Godly men want the best for the Church and it’s leaders. Even Paul and Barnabas separated in their physical work but continued in the work of the same Gospel message. Disagreements arise and as time passes those disagreements vanish and are forgotten.

To shun others because one is insecure with others questions is below the office of the leadership one have been chosen by their brethren to serve in.

Never use the scripture that deals with offenses among believers to be an obstacle to opposition of ones organization or administration. A brother sinning against a brother is different than a leaders leadership among ones peers. Sin separates us from God and each other. The Blood of Christ unites us and administrative differences should never sever brothers from each other. We might not can work together but we can walk and worship together. We may not care for each other’s leadership style, organization or administration but that is not equivalent to the bond of the Blood of Christ among us. May we all be hid behind the cross and never place anything if front of it!

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What others think

I am always amazed at how easily it is to believe what someone you don’t know says about a person. How can you forget how long you have known someone and how much you know about that person and believe negative inferences spoken about them?

Some people live afraid of what others will say or think about them. I have chosen to live and act without consideration for what others think or say so that I can be what I think I am and who I want to be.

Ministry Promotions and Elections should be determined my The Lord and not our Politics.

Ministry Promotions and Elections should be determined my The Lord and not our Politics.

Psalm 75:1 We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is *near.
We* recount your wondrous deeds.
[2] “At *the set time that I appoint
I will judge *with equity.
[3] When the earth *totters, and all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep steady its *pillars. Selah
[4] I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
and to the wicked, *‘Do not lift up your horn;
[5] do not lift up your horn on high,
or speak with haughty neck.’”
[6] For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes *lifting up,
[7] but it is *God who executes judgment,
*putting down one and lifting up another.
[8] *For in the hand of the LORD there is *a cup
with foaming wine, *well mixed,
and he pours out from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall *drain it down to the dregs.
[9] But I will declare it forever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
[10] *All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
*but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.

While serving in a District office position several years ago I was approached with a question that made me think. The question was this, “How would you feel if you were voted out of office?” To be honest it took be back that it was even a subject of concern. My response was not meant to be cavalier but serious. I responded, “No one can vote me out. The body would simply be voting someone else in office.” I was elected to serve a two year term and each term a vote was to be taken on the office I held not the man who held the office.

Maybe I am missing something but I think too many times elected people fail to realize the position always belongs to the organization and not any one individual or group. The body has the right and responsibility to elect whom they feel should serve the organization. It seems like some have mistakenly thought when elected, that they were given the position until they changed their mind and heart about holding it. When elected to serve the body we should serve with humility and grace. Never are we to hold an office but to let the office hold us. We should serve the body with our heart and hold the position with an open hand and not a clenched fist.

Will it sting if ever we are not returned to a post? Of course it will! The flesh will always reject a challenge. But after a few days we will get back on track. The call on our life is not to a place, position or power but to Christ. Our call is to yield to the leadership and Lordship of Christ. There is no difference in Christs eyes to the positions we hold. He is looking to see if we are holding Him or something else.

So when a body of believers vote on those to serve in various places we should cast a ballot for that person whom we feel God is directing us. We should never vote against anybody we should vote for somebody. The body is responsible to elect the best qualified individual to serve the organization. That qualification is made by the Holy Spirit with everything else being secondary. We should not be divisive in our elections but prayerful and sincere. We should never cast a ballot lightly for people’s family and future will be affected. We should never feel pressured by friendships, alliances or threats when we cast our ballots.

The question should be asked, “Whom is The Lord placing His hand on and the Holy Spirit directing for me to cast my vote?

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born *I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet *to the nations.”

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Judas Steers

Judas steer

Why’d they leave that one cow? Ain’t it good for meat? I asked my grandfather.

That there’s a Judas, a Judas steer, he answered.

He explained that a Judas steer (or just “Judas”) is a special member of a herd. The herd usually has one cow or steer that is “trained” or calm enough to lead the rest of the cows into the slaughterhouse without help of human “encouragement.” I can imagine that if I were a cow, I wouldn’t go readily into a building reeking of death. However, if I saw a trusted member of my herd going in first, I might be more easily persuaded. After all of the herd had been led into the slaughterhouse, they would extract the Judas steer and return it to the farm for future use. It is most obviously named after Judas Iscariot, the apostle of Jesus Christ that betrayed the “Son of God” with a simple kiss, revealing Jesus’ identity to the awaiting Roman guards who would arrest him and later crucify him. These cows could easily see the inside of a slaughterhouse up to a dozen times before being killed themselves, unaware which trip in which they would lead their fellow cows to their death would be its last.

The “Judas steer” was the one who helped the cowboys lead the other animals to their destruction in the stockyards. The terms dates from the 1800s cattle drives.

Copied

I hate to say it because it is disparaging of people, but sometimes crowds are like cattle. They don’t like discomfort or something that causes them to be anxious. Cattle will normally resist the unfamiliar unless there is another cow that they trust leading the way. Cowboys driving a herd to the stockyards will always look for the Judas cow. The reason is that that one cow’s leadership is enough to get the cattle to follow.

The truth is as men of God we must not follow others to our destruction. We cannot afford to allow others to lead us into places we are uncomfortable. There are several Judas steers around us today. Most of them have no idea they are influencing others to make the wrong choices. They may be young and not realize they are being used by others. It can be people who have motives of moving up in life. That in itself is not an impure motive. We always have to put principals, truth and integrity above our desires.

It is hard to pull away from the pack. It is never pleasant to disagree and descent from leadership. Even good people become poor leaders. We can love people but loathe their leadership. No one because they are in leadership deserves blind loyalty. The responsibility of leaders is to give clear, concise and credible leadership. Never allow yourself to feel that you must follow them or their followers to be a Christian. If leaders make you feel that way then they are not godly leaders. You are not an enemy if you disagree and make new paths. But you will be destroyed if you follow the wrong people following the wrong leaders!

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Questions

Questions

If it is not missional and has no real mission then why? If it is scattered and without focus then why? If it has no clarity and clear instruction then why? If the people in charge are unkind, double-tongued and irresponsible then why? If where you are being led has no paths, no goals and no signage then why? Why would one trust in someone or some organization that all the variables and parts don’t add up?

What is it that you are following? What is it about the leadership that keeps you from asking the right questions? What is it that makes you think that doing the wrong thing will eventually become the right thing? What has to happen before you will be open with your concerns?

When will it be enough? When will you draw a line and determine that you will not cross it? When will you find your voice and articulate your thoughts? When did you lose your principals and courage? When will you return to you and what you believe in?

Who have you become in the process ? Who is it that you trusted and have a problem trusting today? Who have you moved away from that you thought had changed only to realize it was you that had changed not them? Who will you be when the end of your life has been reached? Who will care that you were here for the years you walked this earth?

Where will you be after these questions? Where will you find the truth? Where did you leave the path? Where would God take you if you were trusting Him? Where will you find the courage to answer the questions and turn around?

Where will we be if somewhere we don’t answer the why, what, when and who’s of our lives?

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Fight the Good Fight, Finish the Job and Keep the Faith

Fight the Good Fight, Finish the Job and Keep the Faith

2 Timothy 4:[7] I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

The Apostle was coming to the end of his time on the earth. He had some reminiscing of his life and it was put in a nutshell in 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Not much more can be expected of a life well lived. Today we have the ability to live deeper, longer and higher than Paul in that we have modern technology, tools and travel at our disposal. But side by side most of us would fall far short of the success of Paul.

When God sets before us a work to do I hope when our time is served we fought the good fight, finished the job and kept the faith that was given to us.

1. Fighting the Good Fight!

To do the work of God you will always have to fight. It is a struggle to do the right thing. The biggest issue will be to fight the good fight and not just any fight. I have been amazed through the years at the men who fought everything that challenged them but it was the wrong fight. Sometimes that is because we are fighting with ourselves as to who we are and what we are suppose to do. There are just too many fights some people get themselves into to ever win the good fight. You can never win the good fight if you are fighting the wrong fight. It is not people we should be fighting. It is not issues we should be fighting. It is not even evil that we should be fighting. We are fighting for the purpose of Christ to be established in the world we are living in. We are fighting to know what it is Christ wants done. We can’t be fighting ourselves and others and ever fight the good fight. The fight is to work the works of Christ while we can and where we can and however we can.

2. I have Finished the Job!

It is not enough to start something and leave it unfinished. Your responsibility is to see the task finished. Christ on the Cross when He was about to die said, “it is finished!” Not His life, but the work He had come to accomplish. Death was not taking him until He finished. No sir, He had set His face steadfastly, firmly, stubbornly to finish His work. It drove Him to walk, work and witness until he had established His Kingdom in the earth. His part was finished but He handed off to us, the Church our part to finish. Paul said, “I fill up that which remains of the work of Christ!” He had to finish his part and so do you and I! Our task is to finish the task. We are to take the commission of Christ seriously. We are to obey the commission even to our detriment. We are to take the message of the Kingdom to every end of this world. [18] And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

“Matthrew 28: [19] Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

We cannot come to the end of our time as individuals or as the collective Church and not have finished the task. We dare not waste the sacrifice of Christ on the selfishness of self-centeredness. We dare not waste the blood of the Martyrs, the plodding of the pioneers, the suffering if the missionaries on the laziness of those who snooze on the job. I certainly hope that when our shift is done we have finished more than we left unfinished.

3. Kept the Faith

This is not something mystical like wishing and speaking wealth and things into your life. It is not the comical way people profess their walk as people of faith. Proven by the homes they live in, the cars they drive and the clothes they wear. Sir, you are no more than a clown in the rodeo of life. One day one of the raging bulls of this world is going to gore you and leave you busted.

To keep the faith is to keep the truths and standards of the revealed Word of God. Men of God have been handed and delivered the truths of the Kingdom. These are eternal truths that change lives but the truths do not change. Here we have a key to the success and significance our lives have when we have run our race. Have we been true to the truth? Have we lowered the standards that God has raised? If you have changed the truth and lowered the standard Christ has given His Church you are a traitor to His work. Non of us have the right to change the truth or lower the standards of His Word. Culture, fads, leaders, organizations must heed the truth and honor His standards. When we work from the other side and make the truth and standards fit other people and ideas then we void the power of the truth and the strength of the standards.

The honor of a man of God when his work is done is not what many think. You will have no eternal honor because of the positions you have held, titles you earned, friends you made, buildings you built or races you have won. The greatest honor to a man of God is that he fought the battle, He stayed the course and He upheld the standard and lived the Truth!

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Fear is a Liar

Fear is a Liar

My friend, Pastor Jeff Calhoun snapped a pic somewhere that got me to thinking. The words were, “Fear is a Liar!” Fear is a horrible liar! The opposite of “fear” most people think is faith. But that is not true. The opposite of Fear is love!

1 john 4:18 [18] There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

So if fear is a liar and the opposite of fear is love then the way to destroy fear is to love. Think about it a moment. How can you fear someone you love? How can you be afraid someone is going to hurt you when you know they love you? How can you worry if someone is going to take something from you if you love? It is impossible to be hurt intentionally by anyone who loves you!

But if someone is causing you to fear then that is indication of one of two things. Either you do not love them and need to be perfected in love to remove the fear. The other thing is you know they do not love you and you know that, by how they make you feel.

You can deal with how you feel about others by loving them. Love of this kind is not an emotional love. This type of love is a commitment brought about by a decision based on obedience to Christ. I will love others not because they are good to me or are lovable people but because Christ commands me as His Disciple to love others. I may not even like them or trust them but I choose to love them and treat them as Christ would treat them.

I cannot change how others treat me. They can cause me to fear and be apprehensive of them, something I have no control over. When others try to manipulate you, being a Christian does not make you their whipping boy or door mat. You are not a rebel because you act like a man. Nor are you less than a man if you are not coward by their actions. You may choose to love them but at the same time be wary of them. You cannot change others by acclimating to their whims or manipulations. Sometimes the best way to love someone is stand up in their face and force them to see themselves. I choose to love you but I also choose to love you enough to tell you the hard truth I see in you.

Yes fear is a liar and love is the truth! I choose the truth and refuse the lies.

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Real Eyes Realize Real Lies

Real Eyes realize real lies

“Real Eyes realize real lies” was on the front of a young ladies tee shirt in Lafayette, Lousiana. I was captured by the truth of the statement. People that lie are hiding behind their fears. People that lie that have no fear are evil. That is right evil. It does not matter that they are in the church or outside the church. Lies are demonic!

If those lies are because of fears the lies can paralyze you. It may that some person or organization is trying to keep you from stepping up and not showing them up. Step up and their lies are exposed. It may be that lies are told to intimidate you so that your brilliance is dulled. You could never shine brighter than the liars lest your brightness reveal their stupidities. If you live with the lies you will find yourself unhealthy and sickly. Your spirit will war with your flesh. Something in you says, “something is wrong!” But you cannot put your finger on it. Get alone with God in prayer and in the Bible. If others do not line up with the Word and the spirit then draw the line. Always follow The Lord and His Word and courage will manifest itself. You must identify the truth or you will never find your true identity. The truth can be painful even to those who expose it. But not as painful as a life chained by fear.

If the lies you are believing is a thinking system then expose it and move on. Examples may be that you trusted in a system, organization, a plan that is not reaping the results you thought. Maybe you thought a Masters Degree would get you the better Church or job. But you find yourself frustrated because no doors are open. Maybe you trusted in a church but the practice is not what you understand from the scriptures. Maybe it is leadership you once looked up to and now find those same individuals with shadows. It could be that you are just a timid person that finds decisions difficult to make. So you follow the crowd letting others make the decisions. But all the road signs are leading you to the wrong destination. As one man said, “If ten million people believe on a bad idea, it is still a bad idea!” Don’t drink the koolaid prepared in the secret kitchens of others. Again get in the Word and pray for the truth. Once you know the truth decide to follow it. You do not have to take large steps. It may be that all you do first is stop following, turn around and eventually find your path back to what is right. Once you do this, the courage of that decision will give you the answer for the future steps.

Fear is a horrible master! Don’t allow fear to make you his slave. God called you to be free. Close your ears to the jeers and move to the truth. Yes, Real eyes, realize real lies! Real men follow truth and never the lies!

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Get a Life

Get a real Life!

So many in our day have made non realities their realities. It is as if the things that are not real have become what is real. They have made fiction their non-fiction. If they see truth they reject it because it did not come by some artificial means. Their way of building relationships is inside a computer rather than face to face. I know folks that cannot interact in person but come alive on a computer screen. I have seen folks become big on the social networks who I knew to be very small individuals in person. I have seen those who I would consider hero’s in life chiseled down to midgets by the crafty words of others. When you had rather watch a reality show than life with reality you are sick.

This has affected every aspect of our lives. From our politics, faith, family, community and work. People are important. Connectivity with people has to extend beyond the electronic social networks. If all your friends exist in a screen you may not have no friends when the electricity is off. Living in the real world of marriage could never have the sizzle of The soap operas. Elicit affairs never can produce the ecstasy of a romance outside of marriage. No pastor can produce disciples in the vacuum of today’s light shows and productions. If you can make things modern and relevant great! As long as when the lights are turned back on people are drooling about Jesus rather than stage performers.

Life in the real world is tough, fragile, joyful, painful, dull, exciting, routine and chaotic. Get out of your closets and live and experience it before you die. Get out of the box on the table before you are placed in a box in the ground.

Get a Life!

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Hypocricy

Hypocrisy

It is really difficult to own up to the hypocrisy in ones own life. It is so easy to see others faults and ignore your own. I think of myself as a highly principled person. I think I am truthful, honest, caring, concerned and helpful. I feel like I am a person who’s friends can depend on in a pinch. Yet today I spoke with a person who’s child is in trouble and had been for many months. But today I heard her pain and thought how she has carried this load without my help. I heard about a friend who has been without a job and he was in need. I had money I could have helped him and failed to see his need. But somehow his need never registered with me. I am feeling pretty horrible about the realities of myself. Truth is I work really hard at the good things because I am so naturally all the bad things. I have a good reputation but only because I have filled my life with the things I do not possess. If I allowed all the realities and flaws to have their way I would be doomed.

I am lazy so I work hard so that laziness will not win. I have perversions so perverted that to speak of them shames me. So I work hard at staying away from those things that allow perversion to be released and have control. I have a horrible temper that knows no satisfaction. So I work hard at being tolerant. I am cruel so I work hard at kindness. I hold grudges so I have to continually forgive. I could go on but it may never end. Everything in me is wrong and bad.

The only hope I have is to fill my Life with the nature of Christ. I have to bring Him into my daily life so that He through the Holy Spirit has full control. But what a wrestling match it has been. My nature just will not let go. Fortunately for me Christ never let’s go. He firmly but gently holds on to me, transforming me into that which I could never be. Some might say, “No way, you are those things!” I am surely that man. The reason you may not see it is I am hid in Christ! Covered by the Blood that was shed for me to be free in Him! I am a long way from being what I should be but I am further than I could ever be without Him.

So today I am releasing guilt of my failures and shortcomings. Today again I am going to try to forgive others. I just can’t afford to not let go of all of it. Because if I hold any of it it will hold me and carry me out of Christ! He will never release me if I keep releasing the things of the world. Nothing can hold me but the things of the world I choose to hold and not release. Today I choose to once more sacrifice “me” for “Him”. I have to keep dying on the altars Because I never ever really die. A Living sacrifice in our case is not one that lives and dies on the altar but one that lives and and never dies. Because we never die we have the tendency to crawl off the altar. Either you will live your life crawling away from the altars of Christ or walking like a man to the altar that frees us to be what God has called us to be and become.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. [3] For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.