Monday, July 19, 2010

Different Types of Christians

Over the course of the past decade, I've come to notice that many Christians fall into certain stereotypes (at least from my point of view.) I myself am not immune to this typecasting, I'm sure, but it still amuses me to make note of these personalty types that I come across.

1. Shiny Happy Christian - This is the Christian who loves life and loves Jesus - and makes sure that it is known to all people at all times. They are never angry or cross, but always smiling, singing, and quoting scriptures. I've got friends, close friends, who easily fall into this category. They are always pulling verses out of their memory like arrows from a quill. They are always chiding me for my pessimism, lack of joy, and inability to constantly wear a smile. They make me think of the line from Happy Gilmore: "If I saw myself wearing those clothes, I'd have to kick my own a**." This is how I feel about the idea of becoming a Shiny Happy Christian - I'd probably have to kick my own butt.

2. The New Christian - Any smart Christian should be jealous of the New Christian. They are so full of hope, energy, optimism, and openness to teaching. Of course, this can have its downsides, depending on who is discipling them, if anyone at all. But still, who doesn't want to revisit their "first love" (Revelation 2)? The New Christian might not be full of knowledge, but they are full of emotion and zeal.

3. The Old Christian - Honestly, I don't know what happens to people as they've been following Jesus for quite some time. I've met some of the Godliest people, geniunely good people who seem to lose touch with reality as they have been Christians for an extended amount of time (years and decades). I don't get it. Sometimes, it seems like they've built for themselves a "religion" when the original foundation was nothing but Jesus and The Word. How does this happen?

4. The Anti-Social Christian - This is the Christian who is gung ho about all things Jesus, with one minor exception: the Church. The more organized/corporate the church, the further they want to be from it.

5. The Its All About Church Christian - "Come to my church, its really great. Probably better than your church. You don't go to church? You should definitely come to my church then. The preacher is a great speaker and the music is really cool and relevant." I love it when I tell someone that I am a Christ-follower and thier first inclination is to do the "Church Comparison." Ugh.

6. The Former Christian - They've been hurt in the past. Or they've just become lazy and "fallen away." They have a healthy appreciation of Jesus and His life changing ministry, but just don't seem to have any use for Him anymore.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A worthless ministerial resume

In the past 10 years, my wife and I have never been less fired up about following Jesus. Through the roller coaster that is our life, our love for Jesus has remained a constant. After a decade, I can honestly say that that fact is a big faith booster for me. Our first love hasn’t flamed out or become lukewarm. The way that we show that love to Jesus has evolved, but it has never waned.

We have served the Body in a variety of ways over the past 10 years. We have stood outside directing traffic into worship services, held numerous Bible studies in our home, played in the worship band up on stage, worked with the tech team for worship services, helped to set up physical sets for worship services, visited friends in jail and on house arrest, been to hospitals and funerals a few too many times, held parties, meetings, and baptisms at our home, invited neighbors over to our home on numerous occasions, led Bible studies at church, at home, and even at work, preached sermons, evangelized on the street, at work, and just about anywhere else, been to one too many meetings, hosted youth group events in our home as well as chaperoning many youth outings, started ministries within the church, started ministries outside of the church, fellowshipped with many Christians from many different churches, etc, etc, etc.

The point is - we’ve been involved. Many people make the mistake of thinking that in order to get involved, you have to be called into ministry - as I said before, all Christians are called into ministry. You have to get over this mindset that getting a paycheck for “doing ministry” makes you any more important than those who don’t get paid for it. In fact, it may turn out to be the opposite. Jesus had quite a reputation for flipping the script when it came to our expectations and God’s reality. Especially in the transition between this life and the next.

If my wife and I were to pick up our roots, move elsewhere, and find a new church home, I wouldn’t expect to be able to write a ministerial resume for the new church showing how far we’ve come, with all of our experience counting for something. No. I’d expect to have to start all over again, building relationships, building trust, starting groups, hosting, ministering, etc. And any church that just wanted to see our ministerial resume probably isn't the kind of church that we'd be interested in plugging in to.

Here’s the bottom line: someone who hasn’t been involved in ministry can’t say that they’re being “called into the ministry”. They haven’t even been involved. If anything, they’re actually being called into living the life that all Christians are supposed to be living - a life of service. Remember, It’s Not What You Get, It’s What You Give.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Speaking from Experience

This isn’t just study material that I’ve cropped together to help others. No. I’m speaking from life experience. If I had a Delorean with a Flux Capacitor, I’d travel back to 1993 and give this paper to myself.

Before you call me a hypocrite, realize that I met my wife 17 years ago, at the age of 18 (still in high school) and we were both non-Christians. Call it luck of the draw or divine providence, but high school girls are easier to impress and my salary requirements at that age were non-existent. Still, in retrospect, there were many mistakes that we made (mostly me). We put off adulthood for as long as possible and put off parenting for as long as possible, but we did have fun doing it. And now we’re paying for it. No one should wait until their mid 30's to figure out what they're supposed to be doing. Some people go through their entire lives without bothering to try and figure it out.

Its no mistake that the scriptures speak of ones testing ground for church leadership and ministry being in one’s own family. How many families “do their best” or give it “a good effort” only to have their children grow up apart from knowing Jesus, or worse yet, end up in divorce. There are a lot of churches run by these men who can’t even manage their own families. So family is where you start. And if you don’t have a family, then common sense should dictate that getting a family is where you start.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Slow Down, Step Back, and Rethink.

Once one has discerned a true calling and also has been deemed as qualified by godly peers, then one must formulate a plan of action.

Too many Christians mistakenly think that because they love Jesus and nothing seems to be going right for them in the secular world, then that must mean that they are being called into ministry. This just simply isn’t the case, especially for a man. Unless he has been gifted with singleness and celibacy, a man’s first priority is to figure out how to get a mate, provide for that mate, and also provide for the children that they’ll have. To some, this may sound like an unrealistic, out-dated idea, but it really is Biblical, logical, and full of common sense as well.

To be clear, Paul spoke of singleness as a gift, and a useful one at that. But if a person hasn’t received this gift, then they might as well spend a good deal of time praying, planning, and preparing for the inevitable - marriage. This means that you need to find a decent, stable job with benefits. You need to be able to provide for yourself, your wife, and your kids - heck, maybe even your in-laws too. This means the whole package, including health benefits, life insurance, etc. And your family can’t be expected to live with your parents (remember that whole “leave and cleave” part of Genesis), which means that you’ve also got to be able to provide a roof over their heads.

This is a harsh wake up call for many man-boys between the ages of 18-38, living with their moms or various roommates, playing Call of Duty (or Madden), jumping between jobs, and just barely “getting by.” Before you even consider entering into ministry, you need to first take stock of your life, figure out where you are at, formulate a plan, and most importantly - GROW UP!! Become a man and leave aside boyish ways. Unfortunately, many women/girls out there are equally deluded into thinking that your current lifestyle is “normal and acceptable” and they will settle for it instead of demanding a higher standard in the mate that they choose.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Called to a Higher Office

Scripture is pretty clear about the requirements for one who would desire “a higher office” in the Body of Christ. Elders must be able to protect the flock from false teachers and refute their teaching (Acts 20, Titus 1). They must also feed the flock, being able to teach. (I Tim.) And they must manage the flock, the practical aspect of running a church body.

There are only three abilities required of an elder: He must be able to manage his family household well, provide a model of Christian living for others to follow, and be able to teach and defend the faith

Elders are the male leaders of the church who are also synonymously called pastors, bishops, and overseers throughout the New Testament (Acts 20; Ephesians 4; I Peter 5). The elders are men chosen for their ministry according to clear biblical requirements (I Timothy 2-3; Titus 1). There are two primary places that the Bible defines the qualifications of an elder (I Timothy 2:11-3:7; Titus 1:5-9) and the lists are virtually identical.

I think its funny when you have these heresy hunters who nit pic through the teachings of pastors looking for the opportunities to call them out as False Teachers. Scripture tells us that false teachers will be given away by their lifestyle more often than their teaching - usually involving sex and money. When I did a study on how to spot a false teacher, I was taken aback by this Biblical approach: "Look for the preacher/teacher who is fond of illicite sex and/or money, and there you'll find a false teacher." Once again, God is always looking at our character, not our depth of knowledge.

to be cont.........

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ministry is a calling, not a career

Vol I - Called and Qualified
Vol II - Serving Others
Vol III - Gifted and Talented

Once we have established that all Christians, both laymen and ministers alike, are required to discern and use their gifts and talents, we are left with one important question: What differentiates the lay-leadership from the ordained ministers? Not much, as far as God is concerned. It is we who have placed a large chasm at times between these two groups of people. With ill-fitting titles such as father, pastor, elder, priest, deacon, apostle, reverend, bishop, pope, it has become difficult to truthfully discern what each of the titles are supposed to really mean and who is deserving of them in God’s eyes. Is there a difference between an ordained minister who receives no compensation from the church and a full-time paid staff member who is not an ordained minister? How lightly should these titles be placed upon individuals? “Pastor of Parking“. “Pastor of Weekend Worship Activities“. At what point do the people who claim the title, and oftentimes the compensation, fail to live up to the Biblical description of the job? How many lay leaders are in the Body fully realizing their God-given potential, but completely ignored by the church itself - given no title, no responsibility, and no compensation and furthermore wanting none of these?

Ministry is a calling, not a career. This means that you shouldn't concern yourself with whether or not you are getting paid for it. Unfortunately, too many churches and pastors have this mantra backwards. This is why ministers are chosen based on talent, education, and experience rather than character. And this is also why so many fail, because their character was untested and unqualified. How sad that so many churches actually double dip and bring these men back into ministry even after they have proven themselves unworthy. Some men actually jump from ship to ship leaving a trail of wreckage behind.

to be continued......

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