10 Years an Outcast

January 3, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Outcasts of Ministry | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Happy 10th Anniversary to The Deep End! I want to thank the Lord for allowing me to continue blogging with some measure of consistency and perseverance for 10 straight years. Thanks to my wife, who originally set up the format and got me started. And thanks to everyone who has subscribed, followed, shared, commented, and read over the years.

The Deep End has never really gained much influence popularity-wise among the big-name Christian blogs on the internet. Although it has gained a little attention (and even notoriety!) here and there, it doesn’t really fit into a particular pre-set niche, and is something of an outcast, I suppose. Therefore, in honor of the occasion, I am sharing the links to an old category started way back in 2012 called:

Outcasts of Ministry: the Addict, the Slave, and the Man Who Fell out of Church

The Addict (His Characteristics) (I Corinthians 16:15-18)
The Addict (Signs of Addiction) (I Corinthians 16:15)

The Slave (His Owner and Overseer) (Philemon)
The Slave (His Obligations) (Philemon vv.18-19)

The Man Who Fell out of Church (Narrative) (Acts 20:7-9) *
The Man Who Fell out of Church (Application) (Acts 20:9-12)

* most-viewed post in category

The Needs of the Knows

December 29, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I. The Knows need accountability.

The Christians in Jerusalem were in poverty. Paul had instructed the churches in Galatia (primarily made up of Gentiles) to take special offerings that could be sent.

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

I Corinthians 16:1

As Christians we are accountable to our brothers and sisters in Christ who have financial needs.

Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

I Corinthians 16:2

As Christians we are also accountable to God.

And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

I Corinthians 16:3-4

The Knows need the incentive of knowing that they are accountable concerning dealing with money honestly and responsibly.

II. The Knows need activity.

Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.

I Corinthians 16:5

The Apostle Paul was always on the move – spreading the Good News, building up the family of God, and trying to meet needs wherever God called or allowed him to go.

And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.

I Corinthians 16:6

Paul used the fellowship of his brothers and sisters in Christ as fuel to keep him going.

For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

I Corinthians 16:7-9

He was not naïve. Wherever the Lord opened a door, he knew Satan would try to slam it in his face. He battled the Jewish authorities, criminals who preyed on travelers, sometimes the local government authorities, and false teachers. We need to stay active in our service for the Lord.

III. The Knows need advocacy.

Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

I Corinthians 16:10-11

Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians to receive Timothy the way they would Paul himself, despite Timothy’s relatively young age.

As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.

I Corinthians 16:12

Remember, some were contentiously claiming to be followers of Apollos, but Paul did not hold this against him.

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity.

I Corinthians 16:13-14

Strong, irresistible faith, and Christian love were the linchpins that would resolve most of the problems they were having in Corinth. Paul wanted them to stand fast, be strong, and do everything in the spirit of love, not only because it was best for them, but because their “missionaries” and ministers depended upon it. This may not be the “best” reason for us to behave maturely in church ministry, but it is certainly a good reason: to help our church leaders. No pastor wants to take a time-out from trying to advance the Kingdom so he can settle a childish squabble between church members, or so he can tell somebody who has been saved too-long-to-still-be-this-sensitive to “man up.”

The Knows need accountability, activity, advocacy, and, as shown in Paul’s commendation of Stephanas, they also need addiction.

The Addict (Signs of Addiction)

November 9, 2012 at 10:19 am | Posted in I Corinthians, Outcasts of Ministry | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Outcasts of Ministry: The Addict, the Slave, and the Man Who Fell Out of Church

Last time we contrasted some of the characteristics of the worldly addict with those of the ministry addict.

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

I Corinthians 16:15 (emphasis added)

Now we will look at the signs of addiction:

1. A strong, almost overwhelming urge to engage in a certain behavior

But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing,

Galatians 4:18

It would certainly not be good to be zealous in your affections about crack cocaine. It’s not good to be zealous in your affections about your outward appearance. But it is good to be zealous in your affections about ministry – because ministry is a good basis for addiction. In the world, you are an outcast if you are addicted to the “wrong” thing, and you’re popular if you’re addicted to the “right” thing. But these views of “right” and “wrong” are fleeting and fickle. Sometimes sexual addiction is seen as titillating or a sign of virility – until it ruins someone’s life or someone’s marriage. You might remember the “heroin chic” phase, when the media glamorized the emaciated bodies and dark eyes of runway models who used drug addiction as a means to stay thin.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/head.jpg?w=270

Some addictions seem pretty cool until they go too far and make the addict an outcast. Likewise, an addiction to ministry might cause unbelievers to cast you out – but God won’t consider you an outcast for it.

2. Feelings of low self-esteem

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Philippians 2:3

A drug addict or a compulsive over-eater has low self-esteem because he doesn’t think he’s worth anything. A ministry addict has low self-esteem because he believes that serving Christ is worth everything. The message of the world is “believe in yourself,” but don’t you buy into that vain philosophy! In America we love to talk about our “rights” and entitlements – that we think we deserve as individuals. But that’s a false view of freedom. Real freedom comes when we become so addicted to ministry that we give up our “right” to be first, and esteem others better than ourselves.

3. Drawing away from the normal activities of daily life

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

II Timothy 2:4

One of the dangers of even seemingly-harmless worldly addictions (that favorite TV show that you just can’t miss, for example) is that we become too entangled with them to have time for ministry. Ask someone who is serving active military duty in a combat zone. A soldier ready for battle at any moment can’t say, “Hold off on the fighting for a couple of days – I just started fixing up my car.” He can’t say, “I just met this new girl and she’s all I can think about right now.” Soldiers have to be focused. They can’t afford to be addicted to “fun” things. A worldly addict may find himself dropping out of polite society because of devotion to his addiction, but a ministry addict is someone who is in the world (which is the battleground of spiritual warfare), but not of the world. Nothing should capture our affection, our adoration, or our attention more than the work of the Lord.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

4. A feeling of euphoria, or pleasure, while engaging in the addictive behavior

The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

Psalm 111:2

The worldly addict gets a physical “kick” out of his addiction. That’s one of the big problems with addiction. Addicts build an immunity and need more and more of the object of their addiction. Many scientists believe this phenomenon is caused by chemicals in the brain. The truth is, God understands our need for pleasure – for a good feeling or satisfaction in the works we do. But Christians are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. One of the quickest ways to grieve the Holy Spirit is by exposing His presence in our bodies to the false pleasure of sinfully carnal pursuits. The worldly addict can never be satisfied, but he can get brief pleasure from feeding the flesh with the object of his addiction. The ministry addict, however, surrenders to the Holy Ghost and takes pleasure in those things in which He takes pleasure.

What’s the one thing that the Holy Ghost really longs to do?

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

Glorifying the Lord Jesus is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. What can we do to be used by the Holy Spirit to do that?

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

I John 4:11-13

Stephanas ministered to the saints – to other believers. By so doing, he glorified Christ Jesus, and pleased the Holy Spirit of God. The worldly addict seeks a short-lived artificial high, and makes himself an outcast in pursuing it. The ministry addict seeks an eternal lasting pleasure – the pleasure of the Holy Ghost who dwells within him.

The Addict (His Characteristics)

October 31, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Jeremiah, Outcasts of Ministry | 18 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This is the beginning of a series of lessons entitled Outcasts of Ministry: The Addict, the Slave, and the Man Who Fell Out of Church.

What is an outcast? It is someone who has been excluded, or who does not “fit in.”

For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.

Jeremiah 30:17

An outcast is someone who has been expelled or driven out – someone whom nobody seeks after or wants to be around. In Jeremiah 30:17 God sent words of comfort to Zion – the people of Jerusalem who were then in captivity. The other nations were calling them an Outcast. No one was inquiring after the Temple or the holy city. Why had God allowed them to reach this condition – to become “outcasts?”

Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee.

Jeremiah 30:15

Their incurable sorrows were caused by their incurable lusts – their sinful desires. God knew their hearts, and He observed their actions, and they were “addicted” to sin.

The first of the three “outcasts” that I want to talk about is the “addict.” To call someone an “addict” has a negative connotation in society today. There are all kinds of addicts. Many of the things that we could become addicted to, according to Scripture, are clearly wrong. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, fornication are common examples. There are other things that may not be clearly wrong, but are still sources of addiction for many people: TV, radio, internet, junk food, coffee. In the interest of full disclosure I will admit that I myself struggle with a serious addiction. I am addicted to fried chicken and green Kool-Aid.

fried chicken

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/green-kool-aid.jpg?w=273

There, I’m not proud of it, but I admitted it. Go ahead and judge me…! All kidding aside though, I am aware that addiction can be a very serious problem, and I’m thankful for those who have come up with ways to combat addictions. Sadly, though, most of the ways our society treats addiction deal more with treating the symptoms than eradicating the source, and I am afraid we are fighting a losing battle. A true addiction can only be cured by a changed heart.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Romans 7:18-19

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…

Romans 7:24-25

The only solution to beating a sinful addiction is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Once He has set us free, we are to follow the ways the Bible sets forth for not getting involved in our old addictions again.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

Once you have trusted Christ, you may replace your worldly addictions with the things of God. Are you involved in Christian ministry? Is your family? Most of the things that come to mind when we hear the term “family activities” are worldly activities, but families can and should minister together. And even if you are not part of a ministering biological family, you definitely need to be part of a local church family.

Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God…

I Chronicles 29:3

Most of the time addictions are something bad, but the Word of God speaks of one who had the right kind of addiction. In I Corinthians Chapter 16, the Holy Ghost, through the Apostle Paul, is writing the closing of His first letter to the Corinthians, and He singles out a few individuals who are positive examples to the believers.

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

I Corinthians 16:15

The Holy Spirit of God says, of all the things in the world that you could be addicted to, if you’re going to be addicted, here’s what you need to be addicted to: the ministry of the saints.

Here are some of the characteristics of a person who is an addict:

1. His addiction becomes visibly apparent.

You will see this with people who are addicted to certain types of drugs. In the area where I live addiction to crystal meth is epidemic. The judges in the courts of my district have gotten so adept at spotting crystal meth addiction that they can usually tell just by looking at a litigant’s teeth as she stands before the bench. Another example is people who suffer from alcoholism getting the “shakes” when they go too long without a drink.

I Corinthians 16:15 tells us that Stephanas was known. Because he was the first person converted to Christianity in Achaia, he was known to God, but it is because he was addicted to the ministry of the saints that he was known among the other Christians. Worldly addicts are known for selfishness. Christians who are “spiritually addicted” should be known for ministry.

2. An addict is a burden on his family.

As you read this, do you have a loved one for whom you regularly pray to be delivered from addiction? Most of us do. If you belong to a church with a bus ministry or a children’s outreach ministry, how many children in your children’s church or Sunday School services shed tears every week during prayer request time over their parents’ addictions? Not only was Stephanas addicted to ministry, but his household was, too – his entire family. What do they say about the House of [insert your last name here]? Worldly addicts bring shame to their families, but addiction to ministry will spread to your whole family, bringing blessings instead of shame.

3. His addiction is a drain on resources.

Could a forensic accountant examine your checkbook and your bank statements and your household budget and be able to determine where your heart is? Are there entries for tithes and offerings – for missions giving – for love offerings? Or would those entries be outweighed by your entertainment budget? Do you spend more on entertainment – cable TV, internet service, movies, and restaurants – than you give to the work of the Lord? A gambling or drug or shopping addiction will quickly create problems with your finances. But an addiction to ministry…

I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.

I Corinthians 16:17

The legacy of Stephanas, the ministry addict, was that he supplied that which was lacking. The worldly addict takes away that which is needed, but the ministry addict provides that which is missing.

4. His addiction makes him difficult to be around.

What’s the worst part about being around an addict? Often, addicts have a variety of unpleasant symptoms that go along with their addictions: bad breath, body odors, slovenly appearance. But the outward signs of addiction are not the worst things about it. Maybe the worst thing is that their addiction comes first. If you’ve been around someone with a desperate addiction, you know that they tend to want to talk about nothing other than their addiction. Unless the listener is a fellow addict, he probably doesn’t have a lot to add to a conversation about gambling or pornography. The nature of most addictions is that they make the addict very self-centered. However, a person who is truly addicted to ministry is somebody that most people will like to be around. Ministry addicts have an attitude of “what can I do for you” instead of “what can you do for me.” This is what the Apostle Paul had to say about Stephanas:

I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus… For they have refreshed my spirit and yours…

I Corinthians 16:17-18

Stephanas was the kind of person you would have been glad to see coming. You wouldn’t have had to check your wallet, or hide the women and children. If you were feeling low, he was the type that would lift your mood, refresh your spirit. When the Bible says he was a minister to the “saints” it doesn’t mean that he polished the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul and St. Mary, or that he lit candles for previously deceased Christians. It means that he looked for ways to take care of the needs of other believers – living believers – brothers and sisters in Christ – and he did it to the glory of God. He was excited about it, and he did it with a smile on his face.

Are you addicted to ministry? Do you look for opportunities to be a blessing to others? As a Christian, I should strive to be a blessing, not a burden.

Next time, I will compare the signs of worldly addiction with the signs of ministry addiction.


Entries and comments feeds.