Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Do You Qualify?
What are our qualifications in our day for pastors, deacons, elders and leaders in general? Are they freshly pressed suits and ties? Are they pieces of paper with a signed by a man 99.9% of people wouldn’t recognize. Is it the personal collection of books filled to the brim with other peoples personal opinions of Christ and the church? Is it in masterful trickery of the tongue upon tickled ears? Have we ever asked ourselves the question, what qualifies us for ministry? What plumb line, what Bar are we measured against that allows us the privilege of open ministry (both corporate and individual). And on a more personal level what qualifies us to openly display the gospel to the unbeliever?
I wish to know what the scriptures say on this matter, of qualification. Ever in my searching I have yet to find the verses commanding the attendance of an accredited university for 4 to 7 years. Perhaps I should be reading from the book of 2Opionions instead? Nor do I find the doctrine of, “the issuance of golden sealed papers to be rewarded for the regurgitation of cold information.” No, in my ventures across the scripture I have found something, yes something somewhere which hints, no, declares the qualities of true leaders and servants. Qualities of the heart, the trials of reality, and unwavering faith in Him.
The apostle (in the truest sense) Paul as he approached the twilight of his mortal journey penned to his spiritual sons Timothy and Titus what the true heart must be for all leaders. And it is a message I fear is often overlooked, not only in heads but the entire body. How foolish are we to refer to a mortal being as the head when Christ is the true head of the body. Now we shall gaze upon ourselves in a mirror as we read the words of Paul, and see his qualifications firstly in
1 Timothy 3:1-7 “1 The saying is true and irrefutable: If any man [eagerly] seeks the office of bishop (superintendent, overseer), he desires an excellent task (work). 2 Now a bishop (superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable [showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners, and be] a capable and qualified teacher, 3 Not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money [insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means]. 4 He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful. 5 For if a man does not know how to rule his own household, how is he to take care of the church of God? 6 He must not be a new convert, or he may [develop a beclouded and stupid state of mind] as the result of pride [be blinded by conceit, and] fall into the condemnation that the devil [once] did. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil's trap. AMP”
Perhaps we should read this again. This is not merely a bullet point thesis of a leader, this should be the calling card of all redeemed saint of Christ. As I have said before and promise to say many more times, these are matters of the heart. The fruits of the inner soul, not puffed up poster boards of self righteousness. The eyes of God see far beyond our masks to our very core, and in His grace he sent Holy Spirit to recreate our core in His image and likeness. No pen has ever commissioned a certificate with the commandments not to be greedy or to be absent from the glare of pride. And most of all to be faithful to their one and only spouse. We are called to be children of wisdom, no matter our age in the flesh or in the spirit. We are called to be diligent within our own walls before we attempt authority within the translucent walls of the church. We are forbidden to covet what is not our own and are commanded to teach humbly and honestly the mysteries of God. To be holy, and not for the rewards or to maintain a public show, but because it is the echo of the heart.
For also we see these words of Paul repeated and reaffirmed to Titus here in
Titus 1:7-9 “7 For a bishop (overseer) must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”
This is the heart of all those who carry the banner of servant, helper, teacher, pastor, evangelist, prophet and apostle. It is not merely the collection of knowledge, though we are not to be ignorant, stupid and ill-informed. But our conduct and love will shine brighter than any thesis or quote ever will. We are to be wise as serpents and as gentle as doves (Matthew 10:6). For within us is wisdom and knowledge and understanding revealed by the Holy Spirit. Not merely memorized books and CD’s but the spirit of the living God within each of us waiting to be unleashed on the unbelieving of heart. Yet these words of mine fail to compare with the words of Paul again in
Titus 2:7-8 “7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”
Have we forgotten that we cannot have the gifts of the spirit spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12 until we have learned to walk in the fruit of the spirit. Which is according to
Galatians 5:22-24 “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
For we cannot have one without the other, one cannot be a helper without love, a teacher with out faithfulness, nor a pastor without longsuffering, or an evangelist without peace. No prophet is without self control, and one cannot be an apostle without kindness. Always remember that the fruit is the “horse” which pulls the cart of “gifts”. I cannot refrain from repeating the notion that these truths are not exclusive but for all within the Body of Christ. And those who reject will never qualify and will forever remain vessels of dishonor at the masters table. Yet for those who wish to attain honor at the table must live the life of
2 Timothy 2:20-26 “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
In a frail attempt to craft a conclusion, I as always ask that you examine your own hearts, each one to his/her own not judging others. And ask the Master if you are lacking in any area, and if there is any place He is lacking. Also ask if there be any place where He may use you as a vessel of honor to enlarge the boundaries of His kingdom. For it is not by gilded golden paper that you are called, but by His spirit. For many are called yet few are chosen are the immortal words of our King. And the mystery is this, that those who are chosen are merely the ones who appear when called.
In closing may we never forget these words in
Titus 3:2-7 “2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Written by Cameron Conway
Monday, 13 September 2010
For no longer will God Almighty turn a blind eye to our actions and the wicked intents of hearts buried in Romans 7. No longer can we sweep our sins under the proverbial rug and cry upon the altar of ignorance. No, for with Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary he made known to all people for all times that He is Lord and by Him alone is forgiveness of sins. Just as the Law was set in place to make men aware of sin (Romans 7:7), so Christ was brought to deliver us from such sin and the penalty of death declared in the Law, which demands blood upon the smallest of infractions, as we read in
James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
. And that He will no longer turn away his wrath from our sins, unless we truly repent. We see this spoken of in Acts 17:30-31
Acts 17:30-31 Such [former] ages of ignorance God, it is true, ignored and allowed to pass unnoticed; but now He charges all people everywhere to repent ( to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins), 31 Because He has fixed a day when He will judge the world righteously (justly) by a Man Whom He has destined and appointed for that task, and He has made this credible and given conviction and assurance and evidence to everyone by raising Him from the dead. Amp
No longer can we make any excuses to the toleration and proliferation of sin within the Body of Christ, no longer can the adulterer hang his coat of shame upon the story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11. There are no excuses left above, upon, or beneath the earth that will excuse anyone from the wrath of sin, save, the blood of Christ. And even we as Christians are no longer to bow down freely to sin in our age of grace. Have we forgotten the words of John?
1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not
Can we not see the truth here? Sin is the anchor the enemy employs to stall our ships in the harbor of the world. The weight that binds us to the dust of the ground which tells us that we cannot rise up as the eagles in Isaiah 40:31. It is the thief of thieves and the destroyer of the destroyed. Yet we numb ourselves to the silent truths of sins consequences, we merely gaze upon its frills and momentary pleasures which will ultimately destroy ourselves, our families and the Church. Never forget that our obedience to Sin is; the perfect will of satan brought upon the earth by the sons of light, how sad and terrible a paradox. For this wicked plot was never hidden from the ever seeing eyes of God, for he warned his children of this in
1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
You see there is an escape to the madness of it all. Christ has come to destroy all the works of the devil. No just some, all, all there was and all there ever will be. For satan is defeated and fighting a loosing battle to reclaim what was never his, the authority of the first Adam. And just with the first he attempts to do the same to the joint-heirs of the second Adam, Jesus Christ our Messiah. Attempting to bind us to the darkness shone in Romans 7, yet something is hidden that was not in times past. For today we are convinced that there lies an eternal gulf separating the heart of Romans 7 and 8, little known is the fact that the pen of Paul never made such division. The great truth has emerged that though sin waits at the door and knocks we have within the echo of our hearts the cry of “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (romans 8:1) and 1 John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Wherever sin is present grace is all the more abundantly. We have been made free, why in all good conscience would any turn back to the darkness from which we all came? For though it was by our own deeds darkness overwhelmed and blinded us. Unmerited grace has come, yet not by our own strength or merits.
Gal 5:16-17 “16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
We have power and ability within each of us to resist all sin small and great, and to recognize its alluring voice. For dwelling each of us the Holy spirit moves and groans calling out to our hearts and minds directing us towards Father. Ever present never insisting, by this alone can we truly walk out our faith free from the ties of the world. Which seeks to bind and reassimilate us into the grays and darkness from which we came. What shall we choose then, for it is by our choices that our light shines on those who are fallen and without life. For where we sow our time and where we hang our plumb line will echo through the halls of moderndum and show who we truly follow. Do we follow Christ or are we like those in John 8 who Christ declare where children not of Abraham but of their father the devil. They claimed to follow God but their actions and hearts Jesus exposed otherwise. It is not an easy path to follow, but it is the one true path, the only path among the ditches. May we consider Paul’s words
Gal 6:8-9 “8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
What do we sow into? Is it into sin and corruption, is it into lying, hatred and self preservation (and the fear of man)? Is it into our own lusts and goals that all our gifts are invested into. Or will we, even for a moment place our desires, goals, ambitions on the altar (see romans 12:1) and find what God wants us individually and corporately to do. One thing is for sure, it is not to live in sin and defeat which only reaffirms the arguments of the lost. He has given us the strength to overcome the world and all the enemy employs against us.
James 4:7-8 “7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
Knowing this we must reach out to Father God with all our hearts, this is the key for the believer defeating the power of sin and death. It isn’t a matter of not thinking about and ignoring the wickedness that leers around the corner. It’s taking all that we have and and turning it towards Christ so that our minds are so full of Him, that we have no time to think of the darkness of the past. That we are so full of Him that even the smallest flicker of profane fire is snuffed out without effort or full notice. For when we accept our adoption we are transformed from mere humans into the inherited children of Almighty. No longer are we tied to the fallen state from which we came, no longer are we like our fallen neighbor for we are something far different, something above we could ever ask for or think. No longer bound to the curse of fallen men and women. We are new life, true life intended from the beginning of creation. Not flesh forged by, in, and for sin. We are as it says in
2 Corinthians 2:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Sin has its penalty and it can not be tolerated in our hearts. By the power of the Holy Spirit we must call on Him to illuminate any darkness and to remove it out of us. Deliverance is readily available, forgiveness is abundant, so we must be quick to repent (which literally means to transform your mind) I am not speaking this to the unsaved alone this is something that must resonate with the Body of Christ
This is our covenant right and as with all things in our covenant it is not by our works, we cannot climb onto a cross and re-earn the price paid by Christ. But we look up with faith and accept what Jesus holds in His hands and receive it. And then go out and shine His glory in the world. Remember Paul’s words of
Titus 3:5-6 “5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour”
Now we are bound to follow Him, to speak of Him and to demonstrate Him, not ourselves
To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway
Sunday, 5 September 2010
Modern masqueraded monsters maintain mirages, misleading many
Moreover meaningless monotony misleads musing minds.
Mocking machines manufacture meaningless methodical melancholy
Murmuring molten mischief melts meandering mystics
Moonlit midnight mocks mauled martyrs
Musical madness mixes morbid medicines
Mistaken merchants map many misty miles
Monotone mysteries mute movement
Mined mountains marry mapped miracles
Magnetized manifestos meet metal morality
Mortal motors misfire
Morning maintains mighty melodies
Mountains move memory, marvel mere mirrors
Mission manifests messiah’s mighty marathon
Mouths manifest magnificent mercy
Majestic merciful mouths mute minted mayhem
Magnificent mercy marches
Meeting murdered meager men
Ministry manifests Messiah
Messiah maintains ministry
Written by Cameron Conway