Poisoning the Wells

May 30, 2019 at 10:38 am | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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“Poisoning the well” is a term that refers to the attempt to strike first in an argument by creating a false dichotomy in which anyone who disagrees with a position has been labeled as having ill motives or some character defect by which they should be prejudged and should have their position disregarded. It is a type of logical fallacy – a sort of ad hominem attack-in-advance, and is often used – especially on social media – by those who are overly defensive and passive-aggressive. Here are some examples in the context of someone who is trying to start a new Christian ministry by attacking and dividing an existing one:

1. “We should pray for people, not criticize them.” This statement is intended to create the false and illogical assumption that anyone that criticizes anyone else’s ministry or ministry position can not be praying for them at the same time when, in fact, prayer, correction, and even rebuke, often go hand in hand in the Bible, and were often used by Jesus and the Apostles themselves (Luke 9:29, 55; Jude vv.17-20).

2. “I’m too busy praying about my sins to gossip about yours.” This piece of self-righteous drivel combines hypocrisy with virtue signaling. You are “too busy” to gossip, but not too busy to graphically design a sophisticated social media meme every day in order to proclaim your piety in comparison to your critics, who you’ve prejudged as idle gossips? This imaginary get-out-of-pride-free-card insults not only the motives, but the intelligence, of those with the ability to address division and false doctrine in a Biblical way. This is the equivalent of a spoiled elementary school brat folding his arms, pooching out his pouty lower lip, and saying, “If I criticize you it’s because I’m a humble and deeply repentant servant, but if you criticize me it’s because you’re just a mean old gossip-monger!” Double standard much?

3. “Some people just like to find fault!” Not the person who says this, though, right? Certainly this innocuous and bland statement of practical observation is not directed at those who are criticizing your methods and ministry, is it? Because if it were, then you would be quite the little fault-finder yourself, wouldn’t you? News flash: people who are serious about applying God’s Word in Christian ministry are capable of spotting, identifying, calling out, and warning against fault without “liking” it one bit. In fact, it grieves them to do so, although it is a clear Biblical calling for those with discernment (Matthew 16:22-23; II Timothy 2:14-19).

4. And, speaking of “calling,” a common tactic for those who are very selective in their use of “D words” while poisoning one ministry’s wells in the attempt to start a new ministry is to claim a divine mandate that overrides any opposing views. Among our Charismatic friends, this is called “having the anointing” or “getting a rhema word.” The Roman Catholic church calls it “papal infallibility” or “speaking ex cathedra.” Even the Blues Brothers adopted a form of it:

Blues Bros

But in Baptist and more conservative evangelical circles, those types of statements are deemed just a tad too outre’, so instead they are disguised under statements like: “God gave me this burden;” “God told me to start a new church;” “God laid it on my heart;” “God gave me this vision,” and so forth. Who are you to criticize God? This poisons the well of Biblical debate and criticism because it claims a special divine revelation to which only one party is conveniently privy. What if the Bible says you are disqualified from the title you’ve given yourself? Too bad, God told me it was okay. What if you are in rebellion against God’s visibly ordained pre-existing spiritual leaders? Too bad, God spoke to my heart, I’m just an aw-shucks country preacher trying to start a sketchy seeker-sensitive “temple,” “chapel,” or “worship center” (the best marketing studies show that flaky Christians absolutely hate the word “church”) in the local strip mall. How dare you question God’s anointed!

Things God Prepared in the Book of Jonah: A Worm and a Wind

May 24, 2019 at 10:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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In the Book of Jonah:

1. God prepared a great fish.
2. God prepared a gourd.
and
3. God prepared a worm.

Jonah was glad for the gourd that God prepared to provide shade, but he did not take advantage of the opportunity to repent. Therefore, the next morning God prepared a worm to take away Jonah’s shelter.

But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.

Jonah 4:7

Compared to the great fish which God had prepared to swallow Jonah, a little gourd-blighting worm seems like such a small consequence, but Jonah needed to be reminded just how inconsequential even God’s “greatest” servants are once they forget how great their God is and how truly dependent upon Him they really are. The Bible calls Job, David, and the patriarch Jacob and the nation descended from him worms. I have found, when preparing to preach the Gospel in public that Jonah 4:7 (“…God prepared a worm…”) is good verse upon which to meditate, as a reminder that what I’m about to attempt – proclaiming the glory of the Savior – is something at which I will fail miserably unless God manifests His own power through – or even in spite of – me.

4. God prepared a wind.

And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

Jonah 4:8

Finding himself without shade on a scorching day, we might expect that a stiff breeze would bring Jonah at least a little relief, but it was not so with this special prepared vehement wind blowing in with the heat from the rising sun, and taking away all of Jonah’s strength to the point that he wished to die. Under extreme duress, God’s servants sometimes need a realistic experience of the fear of literal death to remind them of the necessity of dying to self spiritually in order live in the power of God. We tend to think of death as an ending, but God sometimes uses the death of self-confidence, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency to prepare us for a new beginning on the road to spiritual victory.

 

How to Deal with Flaky Church Attenders?

May 22, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: Okay, so… there’s this couple that used to come to church faithfully for a long time, but then they stopped coming. Their church friends tried to encourage them, but nobody could really get a straight answer about why they stopped coming to church. They would just sort of mumble about not feeling connected, or going to a different church, or feeling let down by such and such church leaders, and things like that, but they wouldn’t be specific. People kept trying to follow up and encourage them for a long time, but finally just accepted that they weren’t coming back. Now, once in while, maybe a couple of times a year, out of the blue, they show up on a Sunday morning, and all their old church friends just go nuts. They fawn all over them, and tell them how glad they are to see them, and make a really big deal out of the fact that they’re back, but the next Sunday they’re not there again, and it may be five or six months before they’re seen again. My question is this: Is it right to make such a big deal over them when they show up, or should people just be polite, but have more of a wait-and-see attitude, unless they come for at least two or three weeks in a row?

Answer: That’s a tough question. I know it is disappointing when people leave the church for superficial reasons – especially young married couples who really need the blessing of fellowship and service in the Body of Christ. And, yes, it can be frustrating when (from a personal standpoint) it looks like people that we care about are being flaky about church attendance. However, it probably wouldn’t be wise to try to put a damper on anyone’s enthusiasm over their friends showing up at church – even if it can be kind of a set-up for disappointment. There may be a temptation to judge the motives of the couple you are describing as being attention-seeking, and to try the tactic of ignoring them when they come to church to see if they will come for several straight weeks until they satisfy their desire to be noticed, but I can’t find any Biblical support for that sort of judgmental speculation or pragmatism, and it’s usually not wise to judge someone’s inner motives. Probably the best thing to do is be happy when they do come to church, keep praying for them, and try to be happy for the people who are absurdly overjoyed to see them. Romans 12:15 says that we need to rejoice with those who are rejoicing (unless they are rejoicing in something evil – I Corinthians 13:6), so that seems to be the best attitude to have in this situation.

[One caveat is that there are people who wish they could come to church WITHOUT being noticed or fawned over, so when a big deal is made about the fact that they finally showed up, it has the opposite effect of making them not want to come back, but I honestly do not know how to combat that attitude. We can’t reasonably ask friendly church members to ignore guests or former members, and when friendliness is seen as a detriment instead of a benefit, there’s not much we can do about that.]

The Vowels of Hell

May 20, 2019 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Luke, parables | 3 Comments
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When we pray, we can be specific. We can ask God for the Holy Spirit, and be confident that He will help us.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 11:13

There are times in the Bible when Jesus cast out demons, and it’s safe to say that casting out demons seems like it would always be a good thing… Well, apparently not to everyone, because when He did it in Luke Chapter 11 some people starting accusing Him of being on the same team as the demons.

But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.

Luke 11:15

Jesus used some pretty simple logic to show that this was a ridiculous and blasphemous accusation. First, why would the devil cast out devils? He’s in the oppression and possession business, not the exorcism business.

But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.

Luke 11:17-18

Jesus, while He was refuting the accusations of the skeptics with logic, also cleverly revealed some things for us about the devil’s “kingdom,” which we may categorize according the vowels of the English alphabet (although a little bit out of their usual order): A,O,E,I,U.

It is A.ctual. The devil is real and he has real power and has been allowed some limited scope of authority in this earth since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden.

It is O.rganized. Satan has an actual kingdom and he is trying to accomplish actual goals and he’s acting in furtherance of those goals. He’s not just running around randomly trying to get people hooked on meth, or trying to get them to sacrifice a goat. He wants to kill, steal, and destroy. He wants to try to rob God of glory. He wants to deceive people into believing lies and rejecting Christ, thereby playing a role in seeing them cast into hell.

Jesus’s next logical point was to turn the tables on the ones accusing Him of being in league with the devil.

And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.

Luke 11:19

This was a case of the pot calling the kettle black. There were plenty of Jewish exorcists around at that time. If the power of Beelzebub was required to cast out devils, then they, by their own reasoning, were promoting and working with Satan themselves.

Jesus’s third argument was to highlight their implicit admission that He did in fact have power over devils.

But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.

Luke 11:20

It did not make sense for them to claim He was a fraudulent messiah and more powerful than Satan at the same time. So Jesus laid it out for them with an illustration sometimes called “the parable of the strong man.” (Keep in mind the context as you study it, because there is a ton of bad theology and craziness about what the parable means and who exactly the “strong man” in the story is meant to represent.)

When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:

Luke 11:21

Satan has many people under his thumb, and he’s not just giving them away without a fight.

But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.

Luke 11:22

Jesus is stronger than Satan and He can, and many times does, overcome him.

He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.

Luke 11:23

There is a cosmic battle between good and evil. God is getting glory and Satan is trying to stop that – and you and I CAN NOT be neutral. We’re either on Jesus’s side or not, and if we’re not, we’re automatically on the devil’s side. There is a playing field, but there is no sideline and there are no bleachers for spectators.

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.

Luke 11:24-25

Here are two more of the vowels I mentioned earlier:

E.nergetic. Unclean spirits, despite not readily finding places to rest, continue walking about, looking, until they find a suitable place to stir up fresh mischief.

I.ntelligent. Despite his foolhardy and unwinnable attempt at winning a battle against an unbeatable foe, and despite our reluctance to say anything complimentary about him, we must admit that Satan is no dummy. When unclean spirits are driven out of a home, and can not find a new one, they come back to see if they can re-establish their headquarters in familiar territory. Those who are set free from Satan’s dominion must receive God’s Spirit if they are to remain free.

Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

Luke 11:26

U.nited. An evil spirit is able to do what (sadly) Christians are often unable to do. He is able to team up with seven other, and even more diabolical, spirits and work together to completely destroy someone’s life. Thankfully, Jesus (but only Jesus) provides the victory over Satan and his entire legion of demonic minions – if only we will trust Him completely.

 

Eaten Up with It

May 16, 2019 at 2:27 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

John 2:4

This reference to “mine hour” is what is known is an instance of foreshadowing: the mentioning of a theme that will be developed later. It’s sort of an appetizer (or what my wife might call an amuse-bouche): something to whet the reader’s appetite for more information to follow.

After the miracle at the wedding in Cana Jesus traveled to Capernaum.

After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.

John 2:12

The addition of His mother and His “brethren” (presumably His biological half-brothers rather than His spiritual brothers, because they are distinguished from “disciples”) indicates that Jesus’s family stopped briefly on the way to Jerusalem.

And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

John 2:13

They had gone “down” to Capernaum, and now they were going “up” to Jerusalem. It is possible that Jesus and His disciples (His spiritual family) helped His earthly family move or relocate to Capernaum. Mary and Joseph (likely deceased at this point) had other children after Jesus, proving that Mary did not, contrary to Roman Catholic dogma, remain a perpetual virgin.

And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

John 2:14

The money changers were ostensibly there in the Temple for the convenience of those who came to the Temple to offer animals for sacrifices but did not want to make a long pilgrimage with cumbersome livestock. The selling of oxen, sheep, and doves for this purpose had previously been done on a mountainside area adjacent to the Temple, but now it was being done in the Court of the Gentiles, thereby ruining the reverence and solemnity of what was supposed to be a serious place devoted to spiritual matters, prayer, and witnessing to the gentiles. It had, in effect, been turned into a stockyard filled with lowing, bleating, haggling, the wrangling of smelly animals, and commercial transactions.

And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

John 2:15

It is easy and somewhat natural to imagine Jesus in a holy rage as we read this passage, and we can’t deny that He was angry. What is portrayed was actually a scene in which He purposefully threw the area into a state of chaos and probably confusion.

And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

John 2:16

The emphasis is not on Jesus’s disapproval of commerce, but on the misuse, and lack of reverence for, His Father’s house.

And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

John 2:17

The disciples remembered Psalm 69:9: “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” In Psalm 69 David was in despair due to being encompassed and persecuted on all sides by his enemies. Those who should have been sympathetic to his zeal for pure worship in the house dedicated to God had viciously turned on him. There is something very subtle going on in John 2:17 as the Holy Spirit had John note that the disciples “remembered” Psalm 69:9. At the time they were focused on Jesus’s zeal for the pure worship of His Father, but the other part of the verse – the “eaten me up” (consumed me) – would be later remembered in reference to Jesus’s arrest and death. He would be “consumed/eaten up” by His enemies partly because He challenged their rule in the Temple as being sinful and not truly spiritual and pure. That helps us to understand the “sign” He chose to give them when they challenged His authority to decide how the Temple affairs should be conducted. He Himself WAS the true Temple which would be destroyed but then raised up to replace the old, typological Temple in which God and man could never truly meet together in holy atonement and fellowship.

Experiencing, and Overcoming, Emotions in Ministry

May 14, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 3 Comments
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In the Book of Jeremiah we see that the Lord often expressed His anger through Jeremiah. No doubt there were times when Jeremiah worked up quite a bit of righteous anger himself.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.

Jeremiah 19:15

The people hardening their necks was reminiscent of Moses’s encounters with Pharaoh, who had hardened his HEART against God and His Word. We use the term “hard-headed” to describe someone as stubborn, but in ancient times the neck was used in this context in order to illustrate the idea of a refusal to turn the head, and therefore the vision, from a direction and a destination that an obstinate person had determined to go. The reference to hardened necks may have also carried the connotation of carrying heavy objects – especially large jars or containers of water – on the tops of people’s heads. As Christians, we don’t want to be “stiff-necked” to the point that we can’t repent or be called away from sinful paths, but neither do we want to be swiveling our heads around to look at every worldly distraction.

Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.

Jeremiah 20:1

Pashur was assistant to the High Priest, and security officer for the Temple.

Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord.

Jeremiah 20:2

He had Jeremiah arrested and beaten, probably administering the beating himself, and then put Jeremiah into a body-twisting and body-cramping device overnight, as a form of punishment/torture and humiliation, since this was done in public, near the Temple.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The Lord hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magormissabib.

Jeremiah 20:3

The nickname that God told Jeremiah to give to Pashur meant “Terror on Every Side” or “Terror All Around,” because Pashur and his friends would experience total terror during the coming invasion. Having turned their backs on God, they would not face judgment merely in front of them, but from every angle. Their true God deserting them in response to their desertion of Him, they would be attacked from every side. I wonder if Pashur just ignored this warning, or if he started jumping at his own shadow.

For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword. Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.

Jeremiah 20:4-5

In these verses Babylon is specifically identified for the first time as the invader from the north.

And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.

Jeremiah 20:6

There were times when Jeremiah’s mouth was like a fire escape: his words seemed to come running out naked because there was a fire inside of him! He was bold and vengeful in making this insult to Pashur, but now we find him alone with God again, swept up in his emotions, hurting and humiliated, and dangerously challenging God. Most commentaries at this point refer to the “sensitive nature” of Jeremiah, but, although he WAS very emotional, and even prone to violent mood swings, he lived ABOVE his moods, riding them out rather than sinking down and letting them carry him away. He still obeyed. He still did his duty – despite his FEELINGS. People like this are some of the people I admire most in ministry. They are not necessarily gifted preachers or charismatic leaders or even generous givers or people with special gifts for reaching out to help those who are hurting. But they are the ones that persevere – regardless of how they FEEL.

That Ringing in Your Ears

May 9, 2019 at 5:01 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter’s earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests;

Jeremiah 19:1

Why would the elders of the people (the leaders) and the elders of the priests bother to follow Jeremiah outside the city to hear what he had to say? Possibly out of idle (“idol?“) curiosity. Maybe they just wanted to see what he was going to do with that bottle, but it seems more likely that they were trying to get some evidence they could use against him – to listen for some words they could twist to convict him of treason or heresy.

And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee, And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.

Jeremiah 19:2-3

Not coincidentally this was the place (just outside the city walls) called Hinnom/Gehenna where the garbage was taken out, and where the fires of Molech burned with sacrificed children.

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy (II Timothy 4:3) about a time when people would not want to hear the truth about God, but would want their ears scratched. Here, Jeremiah foreshadowed that by saying that these people had ITCHING (tingling) ears but they were about to have RINGING ears from the loud blast of destruction that God was going to send!

Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

Jeremiah 19:4-5

These words ring very prophetic for America – the land of abortion – today. We seem very upset when a group school kids gets gunned down – and we should be – but we seem very complacent that, earlier and later that same day, 2500 little babies were brutally murdered and dismembered in their mothers’ wombs.

Things God Prepared in the Book of Jonah: A Fish and a Gourd

May 7, 2019 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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1. God prepared a great fish.

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 1:17

After experiencing a terrifying storm and being thrown overboard, it must have seemed to Jonah like things were going from bad to worse. We don’t know if he was bobbing quietly on the surface of the newly-calm sea, watching his former ship leave him in its wake, or if he was thrashing violently in the classic non-swimmer’s panic, or if he was simply plummeting like a stone toward both the figurative and literal depths of his despair, but it can hardly have been a comforting feeling to see a huge fish rushing toward him, mouth agape, to consume him whole! Yet the vehicle of his doom also turned out to be the means of his salvation. This fish had been prepared by God to trap Jonah, but also to preserve him; to teach him a lesson, but also transport him to safety. When the Lord sends something distressing, destructive, or downright devouring into your life, don’t lose hope. If you belong to Christ, then the storms that appear to pose the worst danger have often been prepared by God to strengthen your faith, teach you some important truth, and make you more like Jesus. At times like these, turn to prayer, repentance, patience, temperance, and even praise to demonstrate your trust in the One Who can cause you to be swallowed up and then spit out on the side of victory, even when all seems lost.

2. God prepared a gourd.

And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

Jonah 4:6

Jonah was not happy. In fact, he was both sullen and angry that the Lord would show mercy to a group of people that Jonah despised. He sat down in something of a pout to watch what God do to the city where his own preaching had resulted in repentance. The plant which quickly grew to provide much-needed shade for Jonah’s head had been prepared by God. It is in God’s nature to sometimes comfort those who are grieving, even when their grief is very misguided and founded on the wrong basis. When God, despite His prerogative to send chastening rather than blessing in response to our sin, decides to bless us anyway, we must seize upon that opportunity to repent. The option to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord is a much more favorable option than having Him be the one to humble us.

Next time we will look at two more things God prepared in the Book of Jonah.

Less-Popular D Words: Disgruntled and Disobedient

May 2, 2019 at 4:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Christians are not surprised – or at least they ought not to be surprised – when Christ, His Gospel, and the Bible are rejected by modern culture and society. This does not mean, however, that Christians should let their guard down regarding worldly influences affecting the Church. For example, it is no secret that “victim mentality” is the driving force in a vast majority of current social issues, politics, and legislation. If you can find someone else to blame for your problems or your perceived lack of advantage, then you can play the victim and elicit sympathy disguised as justice or fairness.

How does this manifest itself as influence on Christian ministry, though? One way is in the prevalence of so-called “recovery” or “survivor ministries” (these being euphemisms for victim in many cases). If you are under the authority of a local Christian church – and all Christians should be – but you find it difficult to submit to authority, or if things aren’t going exactly to your liking, then your options can seem pretty limited: (1) leave church (sadly, this is the route seized upon by many); or (2) start your own church or ministry.

Now, at this point, you may be thinking, what about option 3? I could just find another church. That’s true… UNLESS you have been in a position of leadership at your current or recently-former church, and leaving your current church for an already-established church would mean humbling yourself and serving from a non-leadership position under the preaching and teaching of another leader (especially if you think you have received some sort of special “calling” or if you think you are too smart, too gifted, and too special to be under the authority of someone you think is less smart, less gifted, and less special than you are).

So, there it is, you are stuck with option 2 above: You anoint yourself as pastor, leader, preacher, minister, or whatever, and start recruiting. But where will you find yourself a ready-made congregation, or at least a good prospect-list of likely recruits? Why, among the victims, of course. As a victim yourself, you can really relate to each other. And don’t limit your new flock to just one “D” word: “D“isgruntled. Be creative. Have you been told that you are “D“isqualified from ministry because you are “D“ivorced? Great! There are bound to be some divorced folks out there that feel “judged” because they haven’t been allowed to serve in as high a position as they would like where they are currently serving. Maybe you have a history of “D“rug abuse or “D“epression or “D“omestic abuse or a “D“ependency on “D“rinking alcohol. How many nominal church members out there have sore feelings because they have heard someone in their own church lovingly, but firmly, preach what the Bible has to say about those things? Maybe you can entice them to jump ship! [Pro tip: Look out for people whose political views are the real motivating factor behind which types of church leaders they want to serve under. They are usually easy to spot because their social media posts about their favorite president and political party outnumber their posts about Jesus by about 10 to 1.]

Now, let me pause for a moment here to state clearly that I am thankful that Christ forgives all types of sinners and all kinds of sins. I am thankful whenever a divorced person, a former drug addict, someone with a scandalous past, or a person who has overcome any type of spiritual battle, is able to serve in church and even be recognized with some type of official ministry position. However, we are talking here about the qualifications of church leadership positions described in I Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6-7, which state that a bishop (pastor) needs to be “blameless,” meaning above reproach: not subject to being called out for past behavior in the context of a history of leadership that hurt people to the extent that there is a scandal that could still be reasonably brought up.

Okay, back to the point: When, as a Christian who feels like a victim, you are recruited by a disgruntled pastor with a personal ax to grind, beware. A new ministry founded on shared feelings of “D“issatifaction, “D“isappointment, and unresolved “D”isputes, will turn into a hotbed of bitterness, bad doctrine, and darkness faster than you can say, “Finally, I’ve found a place where they will tell me that ‘grace’ means that it doesn’t matter how my behavior affects others!”

Remember, there are many D words which stand for things that nobody likes to have held against them, but, Biblically speaking, as a “D“isciple of Jesus Christ, these D words are more far more significant:

1. Don’t disobey God’s commands (John 14:15; Ephesians 5:6; I John 5:2-3).
2. Don’t doubt the Word of God (I Timothy 2:8).
3. Don’t divide the body of Christ through slander, gossip, and factions (Romans 16:17; I Corinthians 3:3-7).
4. Don’t disrupt fellowship among believers (Galatians 5:13-15).
5. Don’t distract new believers from drawing closer to Christ (Matthew 18:4-7).
6. Don’t devise schemes that lead people into sin (Psalm 35:20; Proverbs 16:28-30).
7. Don’t destroy, in a fit of pique, the testimony that you have worked hard to establish (Ecclesiastes 10:1; James 1:20).
8. Don’t disgrace the work of the ministry by making it seem like a means of personal recognition or gain. (I Corinthians 9:18).
9. Don’t depart from God-ordained authority just because you don’t feel like submitting (Hebrews 13:17; I Thessalonians 5:12-13).


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