The Disciples Kept the Sabbath 85 Times in Acts

The Disciples Kept the Sabbath 85 Times in Acts – from Eliyah.com

This is another great post I’ve found. The arguments and plain text of the scriptures, all cited as they’re written, are certainly many times more convincing than mere traditions and revisionism which stem from, going way back, Constantine and the Roman church. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe many Christians have gotten the Sabbath wrong for so long, nevertheless, is it not Paul who warned, there will be grievous false teachers wolves in sheeps clothing who will falsify the Way and lead many astray. Is this warning not also evident in Revalation, where it says such false teachers will seek to change times and days. They will teach “perverse” things. What is being perverted in churches today? If you look and do a bit of research, it should be clear. Sexual perversions are being tolerated, among other things. And it also says false teachers will forbid marriage, forbid certain foods…

As yet, what church forbids marriage? I don’t know if any that forbid it wholesale to all members. Where in the NT does it forbid priests to marry? Yet some churches forbid marriage of “priests” today.

Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts.

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Like Grapes on a Vine – Remain, Ripen, Grow Sweet

I’ve been away for a moment, collecting my thoughts. I found myself getting down, and needed to settle.

I knew I used my mobile phone a lot every day, but it wasn’t until I dropped and broke it that I had to go many different directions to get the things done I was used to doing all on one device. It strained my business and income for a moment, but now that I’ve got a new one I need to work fast to make up for lost time and inefficiency.

Not many days go by that I don’t think of Christ Jesus calling me, urging me on to sanctification through His grace. Not too many days of the week go by without thinking of working for 6 and resting for 1. I urged my brother to consider what I was saying about this.

Just a moment ago I was reminded what Peter was told by Christ. Peter, He said, do you love me? Yes Lord, you know that I do. And Jesus replied, Feed my sheep. He said this three times to Peter. Later on, we know that Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, but after that Peter never wavered or shrunk again. Peter became a rock, at Christ’s naming him thus, or “pebble” rather, as Peter’s name means. It wasn’t until after he was tested/tempted that Peter realised what he had done.

As we ourselves go through tests and temptation we are given a visual of ourselves, where we are now, if we’re on watch. When troubles arise, how we respond to them matters. Do we freak out, do we fret much, do we get angry with others, or do we shut down?

I’ll give an example from my life that surprised me. Before a couple years ago, I didn’t know anyone close to me to have died. When I was in my mid twenties, my grandma on my dad’s side passed, but I didn’t know her well. She never lived near us. I only remember seeing her a couple of times. I decided not to go to her funeral and be gone for a few days out of state with my family, choosing instead to work. Or maybe I was in school, I can’t remember.

But these past two years, I count 6 family members and friends having passed away. My grandma, followed by my grandpa. My friends, Tommy, and Andy. My uncle. And an extraordinary Christian mentor and friend, Mrs P. Add to that, my most favorite dog.

Much of those losses brought a lot of tears to my eyes. I most miss my grandma, who was very close and was always someone I could talk with. And while I was grieving, I prayed more than I ever had before. I was never angry with God, and put my loss and pains in his hands and said, Lord, keep me going. Comfort me in my distress. And sure enough He did, and I was aware of His presence while coping with it all, one death after another. When I got to asking the Lord, will I see them all again in Your Kingdom, I hope they are, but I do not know for sure if all of them will be. That…distressed me the most. Not as much their mortal death, but their eternal life.

That’s been on my mind a lot more since, looking at my family members, wondering about their eternal state, wondering how to bring them to the Lord, some of which won’t talk about their faith, thinking it to be such a private matter. But I keep praying for them in the meantime, and look for moments to present themselves in which I might speak Jesus into their lives.

What I encounter frequently is the notion that “being a good person” is all they have to do to enter Heaven. I think so many are forgetting, if they are a Christian, is that is not the ticket. Christ alone justifies, not by works, lest anyone should boast. Yet “being a good person” is often cited, in one word or another, and I’m continuously distressed by that. Sometimes I am myself confronted with that question; am I believing Christ justified alone, and neither adding to or subtracting from his justification. It’s perhaps easy to forget, unless we remember Him day by day, even hour by hour. Unless we have a real and growing relationship with our Lord and Savior, our justification in mind may revolt and revert back to “being a good person”.

When we walk by faith, through grace, we should not count the stones or good works or deeds as ours, but Christ’s. If we hear His voice, we go there, we act. When we move, following the Spirit of God, the very same Spirit of Christ, He gets all the glory, He is the one who does good. And I remember His saying, No one apart from me can do anything. I am forever tethered to Him, walking in Him, and not doing anything myself. But just as He was saying in His ministry on Earth, that He only said and did what the Father told Him to say and do, so no good have I but walking just as He tells me to, where and when and to whom. I should always, every moment, be listening for His voice. When he says, Remain silent and still, I should. When he says, Give, I should give. When he says go this way, I should follow Him there in faith. Whatever He shall say to me, I should listen and do it.

I was thinking about this, What is He saying today that I am not doing? I can think of three things off hand, whoops, four come to mind. I’m sure most of us can examine ourselves and find areas of our lives that yet need improvement, or steadfast obedience, or countenance that can be grown with persistence. I have come to learn that if I so much as take one step back and shrink in faith, I lose a lot of ground spiritually. And if I stand here static, stationary, no further progress in faith is made. Life is not static, our faith is continually tested to show us where we stand. God shows us: keep moving forward. Be holy, for I am holy, declares the Lord. Not one of us is yet perfect.

I don’t know quite how to say what I mean to say. Except, strive on. Let Christ Jesus reign in our lives, in all areas. May we be reminded with so much as every breath we take, every heart beat, we receive it from Christ to live. To live for Him who died for us, that is the life He gave us and it is exceedingly good. All that I have and all that I want is in Him. Or that is my aim and desire, to have such desire as nothing but, as nothing else is true.

When I think of those whom I’ve loved who have passed away, I keep on praying, God, be merciful. I know that He is good and just and righteous. I know that He loves us and wants us like a Father loves and wants good for his children. Everything else, like death, sadness, like sin, and war, will pass away, is passing away. We think as like we are passing through a dark tunnel in this troublesome life, but if Christ is coming, and He is, it is rather the darkness that is fleeing Him. We do not hitch upon the darkness as it’s fleeing, but like a candle burning with God’s hands cupped around our wick, shielding us, we glow bright despite the thick darkness that means to be a menace, it is as nothing compared to His love and will for us.

What is Christ Jesus doing in your life today? He’s telling me, fear not, shrink not, stand firm, move where I say, glow bright, feed my sheep. Faith grows by believing. Believe everything He says.

Atheists offering invocations at City Council meetings?

Atheist Invocations – Op-Ed Orlando Sentinel

Atheist group recently won a court case in Brevard County, Florida, that’s likely to reverberate state-wide and Nationally. Though it has to be noted, this is certainly not the first judgement of its kind, this sort of thing has been ongoing for years. Should Christians see this as a positive development for the sake of religious freedom? I’m not so sure.

What’re your thoughts on this development?

I see the main point, that religious freedom, to be truly a freedom and right, should be extended to all, irregardless of faith, or non-faith, having the right to have no religion. I think a great deal of progress has been made already. People are free to practice their religious beliefs widely in the USA. We have ao many different religions represented in the USA. And yet there are more hurdles to overcome in this regard, such as those seen in court cases involving Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby, Sisters of the Poor, bakers, photographers, wedding venues, and so forth. What freedom do they have to give freely to charotiestthey choose, or whether they wish to supply contraceptives to their employees or not, or where a it concerns a orivate citizen with a public business, whould they have to serve and accommodate all people despite contradictions to their deeply held faith convictions?

While at the same time there are growing public and business opinion saying and making policy against people sharing their religious views in public or in the workplace, going even so far as to ban the wearing of religious symbolism like the cross. I think I provided a link to that story before.

But I fail to see the atheist invocation at City Council meetings, in example, as anything other than poking a thumb in the eyes of religious adherents, particularly Christians. Thwir invocations are not actually heartfelt or genuine, but the motives behind it are as spoof and mockery of religions. Interestingly however, they are always pointed against Christians, and never, to my knowledge, at any other religious affiliation, Buddhist, Muslim, etc.

Case in point, a lot of the billboards you may see from such atheist groups like COR, turn the phrases of Christian groups and their mission around in tongue-in-cheek ways to make lite of them. Atheist invocations then, are nothing but mockery. What is the point of an invocation, or what are Atheists ‘invoking’? If not God, they’re invoking – nothing.

Unfortunately, we Americans have allowed atheism to be designated a bonefide religion, while it’s stance is unambiguously anti-religion. It’s ludicrous. We have also allowed businesses themselves to be viewed by the law and authorities as like persons or individuals with similar rights under the law, in ways I couldn’t well explain without much further study.

A dam was broken the day government declared atheism a type of religion and due similar considerations as religious groups. An atheist meeting buildings and affairs therein and public outreach, like using billboards and media, may be tax-exempt, and leaders of such may be considered like clergy. This has led to other groups creating farcical alternative religions like the spaghetti monster or star wars jedi’s, taking advantage of the wide open language of the law. Justice, it may be said, is broken, since it has no sound judgement in these regards. You too may create a new religion, based on anything, if you can get enough signatures on a petition and fill out all the right forms.

The spirit of the law disseminating between religion and non-religious, tax exemptions for religious organizations, meeting halls, leaders, is not limited whatsoever any more.

To that extent, I’m not sure I actually agree with widespread and unbridled freedom of religion anymore. The train has run off its tracks.

If God promises to bring a people or nation to judgement and ruin who will not love and obey Him, like He did in Sodom, like He will in the final judgement, am I in opposition to God if I stand affirming and petitioning for the rights of all people to worship whomever, whatever or nothing as they please? Can I, for instance, stand with atheists, pagans, witches, devil worshipers and whomever else, and help them receive acceptance and acclimatize within society? I don’t, and will not. Am I a hypocrite if I want freedom of religion for myself and my religious brethren, and not for others? Did God say, Go and make the whole world and your nations pluralistic, worshipping many gods and idols, doing things I detest, making me angry and storing up judgement against them? No, He certainly did not. Jesus said, Go and make disciples of all nations in My Name, teaching them to observe whatsoever I have shown you. Can we do both? No.

We have the power as a people to set into the government by vote, and sharing grievance and petition and serving as officials, what ought to be in the legislature and uphold what we as a people and nation desire and know is virtuous and righteous, whether norms, behaviors and rights. In like manner, we are not to vote in favor of abortion or gay marriage, but we are constantly being petitioned to do so by the public and officials and maybe even our own brethren in the Church for the sake of another’s personal freedom, even though it is contrary to the will of God. Are we confused as to whom we serve, God or man? Are we confused as to whether Earth as it is, is home, or are we merely passing through as pilgrims with a particular purpose? Is peace and stability and prosperity at hand in this world, under these governments not of God?

Perhaps we need to as Christians reevaluate who we are and where we stand, and do stand where we ought to, appropriately. Perhaps we have been wooed and become overly entangled in civil government and public policies, and do not do all that we can to reach the individuals who do not yet know God. What is it we want for mankind; freedom to sin through government policy, earthly authority – or freedom from sin through Jesus Christ of heavenly, eternal authority?

Is it possible that the world’s appeals for us to get involved in earthly squabbles takes our minds and hearts away from righteousness, eternal things and God, His love, His will, His authority?

I tend to think the matter of freedom of religion is being taken where it ought to have not gone, and makes a mockery of religion, distorts freedom and rights. Where does it lead us? What were we told beforehand? Everything in this world aside from those who follow, love and obey Jesus, will be deceived, and the world, those so deceived, will join hands with the devil and death. They will join a counterfeit religion, they will support a counterfeit authority, both hating and denying the one true God, and hating those who follow after God. It’s happening all around us.

The sheep are fat, but undernourished – the quest for brotherly love in the Church and congregations thereof

The yearning for belonging in-and-of-itself is not enough to sustain a congregation of believers, but the actual realization of belonging and being an active part of it is necessary to be real.

A community doesn’t stick together merely through casually meeting together, but living together, being constantly knitted together. Are we dependant on one another? Gaining a family member should be a joyful occasion. Conversely, losing a member, we should feel loss.

But in today’s culture, it seems many people move from church to church. In times past, it seems many people stayed with their congregation, and raised their families within its embrace. Living in Florida most of my life and Central Florida especially, the influx and out of people moving here and moving on is a constant. And I notice, neighbors are not as neighborly as when I was younger. Friends are not as reliable. Most companies too, are nolonger a place to begin one’s career and retire. There’s not much you can count on, but difficulties. Even the weather is more unpredictable. The hundred year flood comes more often. A devastating hurricane sweeps across the State every few years. The rains abate and fires cross counties continually. But if all the world breaks into chaos, the faithful in God should remain steadfast and love one another.

It reminds me some of young love and the many times of inevitable breaking up. It hurts momentarily, in order to keep on searching to, hopefully, find a lifelong mate to love and help. We lose a sense of what love is in a marriage if it’s not first understood in relation to family. The wider family of God should be our model. In truth, we’re only to marry within the family of Christ’s Church. In truth, our partnership with our prospective mate is in unison with God. It is this holy three that make us we, where two become one, through the One. And it will remain, the marriage, only when the two remain together in agreement with the Lord.

As I’ve left congregations, and not sporadically or indifferent, I have no idea if I was ever missed. Or the only idea I might have, is that being missed was never expressed to me. Naturally, our individual experiences shape our perceptions. If many people of the same community have similar experiences, they might share the same perspectives. So I’ll ask, Do you think all church congregations act as family and our spiritual homes? Like the biblical account of the prodigal son, although I am not a prodigal today, is there celebration when a wayward son returns home? But it’s also true, not all those who leave a congregation leave The Church; but some, not knowing for sure, and we know so little for sure ordinarily, may perceive that when it is not so. I do not suppose someone has left the faith when they leave a congregation. But I do wonder why they left. And oftentimes, the wider congregation doesn’t know why. Perhaps the elders and pastor knows, but it’s private. For me, there was often a bit of hurt. Thinking, I thought we were tighter than that. And I thought we were friends, and more than that in Christ.

Congregations might consider meeting on this topic, that is, they often wonder how to bring more souls into the Church, and how to keep namelt believers in community in the congregation. Which is more important? To God, moreover? That men believe and grow in Christ together, and become participatory members in the wider Body? Or that men join a congregation, and remain in that congregation indefinitely – whether they themselves feel, and more than feel but know, they themselves are loved, appreciated, valued and useful co-participants and family members?

Been meditating on belonging this past week, and praying about it. Was reading articles about wounded believers, rejection, unkindnesses experienced in the congregations. You may certainly know if you are loved in your congregation, not by the slogans that church chooses, but whether there are believers coming along side one another, welcoming one another, uplifting one another, discipling ine another, follow up when you express hurts and difficulties or sickness of many kinds in your personal or relational life, is a truer test. I am slowly devising such a test. After being in the Church for a long while, I now know pertinent things to ask and look for in a prospective congregation upon visiting. I’m particularly looking for genuineness. Every one calls themselves Bible-believing, truth, love and Spirit filled. It’s not always the case. Maybe more rare that we know. And I’m beginning to think, and have long suspected, that most congregations are like the weaker of the seven churches of which letters were sent by the angel of the Lord in Revelation. Neither hot nor cold, ready to be spit out fo God’s mouth. We need to be truthful, rooted, and hot, of contagious faith, loving greatly like the Lord beseeches us to, willingly, joyfully, radically, and above reproach.

The last two church congregations I was part of, both of which I was heavily invested in and served diligently, and knew many people, even the pastors and elders, neither of these reached out to me when and after I decided to leave and find another congregation. Consider that, what if you were like Paul, and thrown into prison, and your own family didn’t seek or visit you? What would you think of them? Not that you didn’t love them, but that they must not care for you. The last one, I moved away to another State for a job, and I made it known why I was leaving, so it wasn’t all because of any particular lacking at that church.

All this to say, I’m sure most of us are looking for true family, and we believe God is leading us into His family of believers, the body, local as we are. The question is, why aren’t all His people sensitive to this, and knowing it, act appropriately, love accordingly? I do not know. Do the older not look to the younger as if sons, and the sons toward the older as like parents? If not, why not? I find that in scripture, plain as day. But I seldom find it actually in practice. It’s not something you can know within weeks or months perhaps, but within years of being part of a congregation it should be more clear.

Do you love them, do they love you? It’s really elementary stuff, it’s not complicated.

Usually, when visiting a congregation, they’ll ask that you gill out a visitor card so they canncobtact you. Did they contact you?

Churches these days seem to hide their denominations. It may be a Baptist Church, but they call themselves on the signage and programs, something both generic and catchy, like Belong Church. What do they actually believe, what are their statement of faith and doctrine?

Many congregations talk a lot about discipleship and promise new opportunities to be discipled, serve, grow. What do they consider discipleship, is their discipleship rooted in scripture, and how do they go about discipling believers?

Of course, ones knowledge of the Word and underatanding is necessary in determining whether what a congregation teaches, practices and approves is actual.

Do you have a Christian mentor?

Early in my Christian walk, when I was much younger, as an adult who made up his mind to follow Christ, I didn’t so much as seek out mentorship in the Church, or I didn’t think of it like that. I came for the sermons and friendships. I did intentionally chose this particular church because of the pastor. And, I was also interested in the dating prospects. Nothing wrong with that, I wanted a Christian mate, a marriage partner (still do, if it’s God’s will), and my behavior in this regard was appropriate.

I began attending a small congregation. And man, it seemed like everyone was either 10+ years older or 10+ years younger. No peers my age. And so I treated those older than me, like the Word says, like my elders. And the younger, like brothers and sisters. This was the beginning of mentoring and being mentored, I see.

Making friends in the Church didn’t seem much easier than making them in the secular world. I do find it a kind of truism that, friends first choose us. And God always had a friend or two for me, sometimes not the ones I would have chosen, but perhaps the ones we both needed at the time. As time and life goes on, friends sometimes change. Sad perhaps, but true.

After maybe a couple of years with that first church, I had at least two mentors there. First of all, my pastor was a genuine man of God, and he had the attitude and spirit to help others, not because he had to, but because he was willing, and he was good at it. He truly has a heart for God’s people.

He’d be intentional about his mentoring me, and would say, Let’s get together for a meal or coffee and talk about what Jesus is doing in your life. I’d meet at his home sometimes, but usually at the church or a diner. Really, he’d ask that all the time, What’s Jesus doing in your life? It left a lasting impression on me. It really stuck with me. That’s what we should be concerned about in each other’s lives. And of note, I haven’t heard it asked of me many times in the Church since then, some 15+ yeara ago. I talked with that pastor on the phone recently , and told him this and he concurred to the effect that, yeah, sadly it’s uncommon either to find a mentor or be properly discipled. I don’t recall ever asking him to mentor me, he just did it. And I have to say, looking back at that, that’s a real pastor for you, a mentor, a good friend and Christian example, an elder and a brother, quite capable of teaching the Word and showing us how to live in the Spirit.

Well, I am flying by the seat of my pants to write this, as is common, you may know, and thought maybe I’d give a recap of mentors that come to mind. But I’m not going to do that after all.

Rather, I will say, when I wasn’t looking for a mentor, God provided one or two. Some, thwy were not what I was looking for of expected. The old lady I worked for was one of my greatest mentors, and I think she will remain so, towards the top of all mentors I’ll ever encounter – you know what I mean? She had a heart of gold, and I miss her presence.

Later on in my Christian walk, I began looking intently for someone to mentor me. I guess I was about 28 or so, and it seemed like it was a bust. Sadly, the pastor I asked then explained why he couldn’t. And very unfortunately for the congregation, shortly thereafter, he fell and ran off with a mistress. You know, you don’t think that can happen at a church you’re at, until it does.

I don’t know, but I think maybe people don’t think about mentoring when they’ve not had a lack of Christian friends or elders or whathaveyou speaking into their lives. Some people just seem to get that from day one. I found that hardly any of the 20-somethings I knew in my church, when I was 20-something myself, really talked about Christian things, the Word, living in the Spirit etc, outside of church services and meetings. Socializing was big on the agenda. I like fun like anyone else, but there were big opportunities missed for discipleship, relationships, maturing.

I would say that discipleship and mentoring go hand in hand, and they’re not two distinct things, they greatly overlap. Nowhere in the Bible are the words ‘mentor’ or ‘mentoring,’ but it seems very clear that Jesus spent, not just time with his students as a group, the 12, but knew each one personally, and worked with them personally. They each had different personalities, many had different backgrounds, and different levels of understanding. And He brought them all to the same understanding, and grew each owns capabilities, to preach and teach and mentor the next generation of believers.

We’re all like that, we’re all a bit different, being individuals of different backgrounds, experiences, personalities. Of course, Jesus is God and knows all things, He knows us intimately, but even so, He worked with each one. He does that now, He works with each one of us. We come from different places, different experiences, and we’re all at different places in our walk with the Lord. Our hope should be that we all come to fullness of knowledge, know and utilize our particular gifts, and walk in the Spirit always, loving one another. Certainly, coming together in the Body, we can be huge helps to one another, sharing experiences and things we’ve learned along the way, encouraging one another, correcting gracefully and kindly. How do we teach unless first we’re taught? The Word says, we should be teaching one another. This is not to be confused with certain teaching or pastoral offices. But how else do we raise up pastors and teachers and elders, unless we as the Body pour into each other? Some will know the Word better than others, some will stand outand God will direct these to lead. But all have a place, all can serve. I get frustratwd, I really do, when there seems little interest in helping the ‘laity’ understand God’s gifts in them by His Spirit and grow, mature and serve. It does seem to me that many in churches, the leadership seem quite content that members simply fill pews and tithe, yes also do God’s will, pray and read their bibles, but they seem uninterested in leading and teaching members – to fullness. Where is the scriptural confidence, boldness, joy, brotherly love, and so forth in most churches I’ve been part of? It always seems like there’s just a handful of these people, and the rest seem quiet, comfortable, complacent.

Some will walk the talk better still. Some will be gifted in teaching, another gifted charity, or helps, or Children’s ministry, or finance, or in something else. But all have something to offer, the Word says so. So why don’t we take that to heart and believe it, helping each other individually so that all come to see and understand and utilize what God has put in their heart and added to them to share with the Body.

When you see in scripture that, it’s these meetings of two or more people, rubbing off on each other, sharpening each other, and building each other up… What stands out to me is, that is a soft mentoring, it happens naturally. So that alone, shows that we are all worthy to be mentored. No one should be told, ‘No, I can’t mentor you because…XYZ. A moment of time is mentoring, let’s make time. Let’s look to be mentored, and mentor. Someone else knows more than us, I want to know more. Someone else knows less than we do, I want to share what I know with them. We’re to be a family, thicker than blood relatives, so we need to act like it. Because it’s the natural thing we do as Christians. Or is it? If it’s so natural, why do we have to remind each other to love one another. Why does Jesus have to tell us that? Because we need to live and walk and act with eye open and intentionally. We need to examine ourselves, and be molded into the image of God. We can’t help but be a mentor in that casual way. But in the brotherly way, we need to grow into it. Why teach, if not so that someone can learn and know exactly what is taught? And once they know, haven’t they also had the example of how to teach presented to them? Indeed.

Is it right that we all basically mentor one another? Yes. Yet how is it that we so often don’t know, even after spending so much time together, each other more intimately, what we deal with, where we struggle, what we need prayer for, what are gifts are, where we are in our walk with Jesus, and where and how we can each serve in the body? Why does scripture have to tell us that, Like iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another? Sharpen away, get to it.

However, pursuing an intentional mentorship isn’t easy to find. In my experience, it’s been incredibly hard to find any mature Christian, particularly one serving as an elder or pastor, who is capable of teaching and exemplifying the Christian walk, to get to know us personally and help us figure out things that we personally have trouble with, for instance. Why? I don’t know. They’re not lead to accept mentoring as part of their position? If I was an elder, I would make it known to everyone, I’m here, come see me if you need anything, here’s my cell phone number, these are my available hours, etc. I would keep adding to my qualifications and knowledge and abilities, I would learn a vocation like Marriage or Addiction Counciling, or whatever might be useful to the body of believers. I would go out of my way.

So this link I’m going to provide below, it’s talking about prison ministry. And in prison ministry, all of what I’ve read and heard about it, it’s so much about mentoring individuals. To me, this is so much the richer context of discipleship, and it’s done in prisons as the norm. But in our congregations, we seem to lack that individual approach largely. I wish I could impress that more deeply and convincingly, that if relationships is at the heart of ministry, then why aren’t we more relational and mentoring individuals as the norm in every day life and in the Church, in our own congregations, or why aren’t we adding to what we know?

Maybe we think we are. There have been a few times, at least, where I finally had a deeper talk about this with, normally the associate pastors, who were typically younger men and about my age. And I remember at least twice, when talking about ‘discipleship in the Church,’ I’d strongly suggest it to be lacking almost everywhere, and to my surprise, they thoroughly agreed. But they also had a sobering counterpoint, that although discipleship wasn’t as rich and dimensional as it ought, it’s a tough thing to develop in an older congregation where things are thought to be ‘good enough.’ A lot of people, elders included, may not have had a discipleship-mentoring dynamic, and they got along fine. It’s also pretty common, from what I read, that many pastors lack other pastors and mentors as peers. They tend to carry a lot on their shoulders and don’t have anyone besides their wives to open up to. That shouldn’t be the case, you know? We all need to have accountability and peers and mentors, we really should, even our pastors.

All thay said, I think these last couple years, God has been showing me that discipleship and mentoring have been present in my life, and I just didn’t see it for what it was. While not every pastor, associate pastor and elder has done a great job in the mentoring department – and I’ve had some frustrations with typically the younger of them (and I don’t need to revisit those instances where there seemed pride, lording their position over members, apathy and disrespect in some), nevertheless, much of them do model mature, upright, consistent walks with Christ.

What’s discipleship for? What is the aim of mentoring? We all get a bit of discipleship when we meet with one another. For weekly assemblies, for bible studies, and activities, eating together even recreation and church work days where we help keep up the campus and such. As we worship alongside one another, we learn to worship. As we pray together, we learn to pray. As we live in relation to one another, we should grow stronger relationally. As we greet one another, we learn to make friendships. As we build friendships, we should be learning that we’re family. At first, when I was a young Christian, I didn’t want to sing out, I didn’t want to raise my hands. But when I did, it was so freeing, I lifted my hands high to the Lord, I sang out loud, and I quit being self conscious in those moments. It’s not about me, it’s about God and His people.

And all the times I had a good mentor, I see now what they mentored me to do: seek God. It was always about encouraging me to seek God, read His Word, receive His council, lean and hold fast to God. So it is with the young Christian, they will seek out mentors, and may not find them or not often, but what they’re after is a brother to point them towards God, with kindness, gentleness, maybe at times depending on what’s at issue, stern but loving correction.

So maybe now, though I still wish I had a mentor or several, who can have too many? – I am getting the main point, that I should be asking God himself, reading His Word, searching for His guidance, His correction, His encouragement, His empathy. Who is my Mentor? It is Jesus, and He is able and willing and happy to mentor me, personally. And you, personally!

Even so, I wish we were all more like the brothers and sisters in Christ like we’re meant to be, like the pages of scripture exhort us to be. Too often I say to the Lord, Why is it so hard, even with Christians? Why am I lonely, where are my friends? Some of that is, I think, I need to step forward also. I need to befriend more wouldbe friends. We are not largely trying to outdo one another in love, like Paul exhorts us to.

And my experiences are many. When I was sick or troubled, who called or visited? When I specifically asked to be called back by the pastor, and petitioned prayer from the congregation, and no one did call, and I never did hear that anyone prayed for me, but my girlfriend, why was that? It hurt a lot.

I am reminded on those old instances sometimes, the frustrations, but I recognize that as my immaturity really. I forgive, and I often forget. I think I’m somewhat gifted in that regard, as it seems easier for me than it is for many others I have known. Some brothers simply do not forgive nor forget the slightest wrong done to them. When I can model what ought to be done, that’s a sort of mentoring.

I need to get over some old urks and frustrations with individuals. I don’t want to be angry with a brother, and I understand as much that remaining angry with a brother in Christ is sin.

One of the main components of purposes if you will in mentoring or the teacher-student dynamic, or the iron sharpening iron principle, is that we learn and earn maturity as we do this. The teacher learns to better teach. The student learns to better learn. As well the teacher learns also to learn, and the student sees and learns how to teach by the example. We all learn to lean on Christ. But you see? If we withhold mentoring in this regard, we are not learning to learn and learning to teach, we’re not putting ourselves in good positions og mutual accountability, we’re not growing into interwoven family members, we’re not loving as deeply as we could be. My cry then is, More, more! And certainly that is what Scripture says, When you see all these things, speaking of the growing darkness in our nation and world, it ought to cause us to seek God all the more, pray more, study more, meet together more, love more, give more, grow more.

Some Christians I will say, have too rigid a barrier up about who should be mentored, I have found. We all should be mentored, not just the most obviously gifted, not just the ones who stand out as ‘leader material’. We humans tend to have such narrow and short view. If anything should inform us in this regard, look at who Jesus picked to be among his 12 disciples, the apostles. Perhaps not many in Church leadership today might think perhaps that a plain ol’ fisherman of no particular education could be God’s choice in pastor or elder for your congregation. We need to be careful or mindful not to show favoritism, not to be worldly in our thinking. Remember that God chose Jesus to be born in a manger, to working class people, in a humble little town of no repute.

The congregations I’ve been part of, very large and small alike, typically hire a pastor, associate pastor, teaching pastor or worship leader (so many different titles, aren’t there) from outside the local church. I don’t understand this at all, because why aren’t we raising up men to lead and fill these posts and needs? The Bible say that’s what we ought to do. We should do that! Why should we ever lack anything or anyone? It’s just so shortsighted, if I may say so.

What I’ve found is, if anyone comes to our local congregation and says, I’m a missionary, I’m an elder, or I’m a lecturer, a teacher, a mentor at the prison, we largely just accept this as credentials and they’re welcomed with open arms. But if I say, I want to do those things, I want to learn, teach me, mentor me, I’ll be accountable to you all – it sk far seems like I’m asking to much of them. The elders largely don’t teach either, even though that’s a biblical requirement for elders. So, as I’m finding what Scripture says about many such things, like these, yet don’t see it in action in the Church, I’m passionate about learning Why that is, asking questions, and challenging it, not with mere personal opinion but citing scripture. One associate pastor, he never once cited scripture in his answers to me, and I kept asking for them, citing scripture myself concerning the question. Finally he said he prayed about it and would mentor me. Did he though? Nope. I never heard from him again. That’s so disappointing, cause you think a pastor or elder is someone you can certainly rely on. Not always. And I’m just going to have to move past it and not let it bother me. If I were to press further, would I be making trouble or not showing grace? So in that instance I take it as that’s just not the place or person I’m going to visit again. Leave well enough alone.

I don’t know how I’ll get the money to go to seminary, and I reject so far the usual way of going into great debt to do it. I’m going to begin praying about it and not cease, trusting God will make a way. Perhaps I’ll have to take a class at a time, and in so many years I’ll eventually complete it.

Alright, you’ve reaches the end of this post.

Read on, this article about prison mentoring is awesome. Let me know what you think, would love to hear from you.

Biblical Basis For Mentoring – by PrisonFellowship.org

Quebec passes ‘Bill 21’, banning all semblance of religion, wearing symbols or so much as acknowledgment of ones faith in civil service

Religious Freedom under attack in Quebec – theglobeandmail

Startling article here. I wonder if Quebec will go so far as to fire a civil servant who expresses themselves on social media as a Christian or cites scripture or calls out sin.

Canada is following the social footsteps of Europe. The US certainly isn’t far behind. I find it hypocritical, considering that officials here and the judicial system do not take freedom of religion to heart. All the Christians, Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby, bakers, nuns, restaurant owners, wedding venues, artists, and more. They received no consideration. It’s a farce to point out another nation’s faults when you don’t acknowledge your own. Same as with individuals.

What do Christians have in common with this society and culture? Values? Vision? Wisdom? It’s not compatible.

Parable of the Talents

I was listening to a radio program earlier today where the pastor (I don’t know who) was teaching about this.

He read the parable, then began to unpack the truth in it. Yet I didn’t agree. He was trying to use this parable to explain the good of work, jobs and careers in providing financially for the Kingdom of God. Then, I was waiting for him to pitch on tithing, but he didn’t.

The Parable of the Talents is not about the work we do in the world to sustain our bodies, or finances, or even where it concerns the financial upkeep of the congregation and building we meet in; it’s not about raising money.

The parable is about faith, and what the Lord tells us to do with that faith. The measure of faith God gives you, what do you do with it? Now, you being saved by His grace through faith, do you keep it to yourself? The one man did, he buried it, then when the Lord came he presented only himself as it were. Should not that man have invested his faith and through obedience come up with at least double what he was given, someone else to present to the Lord? He could have been able to say, look I took what you gave me Lord, and shared/sowed it with this man, and he too was saved!

Or like the other, he invested what he was given, sowed that faith, and reaped 5-fold more. 5 fold what?

Or like the other who sowed what he was given by the Lord, and reaped 10-fold. 10 fold what?

Well the one who reaped 10-fold, was commended by the Lord, and given many cities to rule over in the Kingdom.

The one who had 5-fold, was also given cities to rule.

But the one who had only what he was given to show for his life’s work in the Lord, his “talent” was given to the one who had 10-fold.

It seemed to me that while the man who didn’t do much with his faith and presented only himself before God, what was given to the commended disciple who had produced 10-fold was the credit for that. The commendation was added to another.

I think so very often we are missing what the Lord is saying to us, particularly when it comes to witnessing for the Lord, in order that through our faith, witnessing and obedient to the Lord, those hearing His good news, others might also be saved.

He says, great is the harvest, but few are the workers. He tells many to go, and yet few do. Why? Because they’re like the servant given one “talent”. A talent, biblically, is a portion of money, perhaps a silver coin – equal to what amount today, I don’t know. We don’t have to know that much, because it’s not about gold and silver. It’s not about your career even, though in your working you may find opportunity to witness. It’s about the eternal Kingdom of God.

In all this world, what is eternal? Nothing except a man’s soul. God has given us a soul, setting us apart from the plants and animals, and the Earth itself. All of this world will burn in fire. But the souls saved of God will not, as He gives eternal life to whomever is found in Him. Everything else will be burned up except what is pure in Him. Im not saying the earth will be destroyed, but the works of sin, all that has ever been of sin will burn up and no trace left.

He says, some will suffer loss, they will have witnessed but nothing came of it, or perhaps some were saved and yet some weren’t saved. You know, why do we fly over nations and spread the messager of Jesus quickly, dropping a temporary tent, speaking before a million people perhaps, and then jet over to the next town. But it is so important that we also go down on the ground and make disciples, one by one, the hard work and long suffering, patience in truth and love, to make sure that all that have heard, truly understand and live out their lives in Christ.

Jesus speaks to each of us one on one. He knows us, and works with us, in us.

What are we doing with the measure of faith God has given us? Are we hearing Him, are we going to our neighbors and sharing the good news of the gospel, or keeping it to ourselves. When we are presented before Jesus and He asks, what have you to show for what I entrusted to you? Will we show just ourselves. Or will we be able to point to another also, or 5 fold, or 10 fold, or more perhaps?

Lead men to Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior while there’s still light to do so. Snatch men from the fire of eternal destruction.