Thursday, May 14, 2015

On Pastoral Criticism--Part 3

We have spent the last two posts speaking of what takes place with criticism in the confines of a church.  The first one was what takes place in the soul of the pastor.  The second was what takes place in the soul of the critic.  This last post is devoted to what takes place in the church when critics began to do their work. 

As a leaping off point, look to Romans 16:17-20 from the Message (as a disclaimer, I don’t use the Message as a primary source):

Romans 16:17-20 MSG  One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth.  [18]  They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They're only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren't above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.  [19]  And so while there has never been any question about your honesty in these matters--I couldn't be more proud of you!--I want you also to be smart, making sure every "good" thing is the real thing. Don't be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this,  [20]  and before you know it the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt. Enjoy the best of Jesus!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

On Pastoral Criticism--Part 2

We are continuing this brief series on pastors and dealing with the fact that a pastor will have to deal with criticism on a fairly regular basis.  In the last post, I dealt with what criticism does to a pastor and the ways that he can let it work productively for him.  By no means am I insinuating that criticism does not have a mark that it leaves on a man who generally is working to do his best to help people to grow in their spiritual walk.  Over the years, I have had multiple conversations with pastors who were enduring some form of criticism for decisions they had made concerning the churches they pastored.  What I have found to be true is that the size of the church really does not matter.  It can be a small church or a mid-sized one, or a large church and all of these men of God found themselves having to contend with the critics they were attempting to lead.

Monday, May 04, 2015

On Pastoral Criticism--Part 1

There is one occupational hazard of a calling into the ministry, especially that of being a pastor, that seems to hurt more and grate at ministers more than any other—having to endure criticism.  It is one of the necessary pieces of territory that comes with holding a public place in ministry.  Even though it is painful to endure and it is understood that we have to deal with it, it has the capacity to create overwhelming waves of discouragement and free-falls into the abyss of despair.  No matter how faithful a man may be or how diligent he is in his work ethic, criticism is coming to a local church near you.  If you are district official, it is coming to district near you and there is nothing we can do to make us protected from it.

There will be waves of criticism that seem to come from every direction at times and then there will be periods when all seems to be at rest and you walk through life and ministry without a peep so to speak.  After having been involved in ministry for almost 30 years, I have come to realize that there is a fringe that every church has that is always buzzing about something.  Early in my ministry, I was very concerned about this fringe of the “mixed multitude” and what they were saying and doing.  However as the years have passed, I have come to believe what the Proverbs recommends, “Answer not a folly according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:4).  The best course is to leave them alone and let your only form of protest be the excellence of your work.  Let your work, your life, and your ethics stand in the face of criticism.  

Friday, March 06, 2015

A Conversation with UPCI Assistant General Superintendent (Eastern Zone) Paul Mooney

Yesterday, I shared with you the conversation that I enjoyed with the UPCI General Superintendent, David Bernard.  This blog is going to cover the gist of several conversations that I had with UPCI Assistant General Superintendent (Eastern Zone) Paul Mooney.

I have known Brother Mooney for quite a number of years.  I suppose the first time I officially met him was around 2004 or so at an Alabama District Men’s Conference.  Since that time he has preached at several camp meetings in Alabama in addition to a district conference.  He is one of the most uniquely brilliant men I have ever met!  He has a very gifted mind and you find that to be very obvious when you begin to interact with him because all of the times you spend with him there isn’t an ounce of wasted energy or time.  He also serves dual role as the pastor at the historic CalvaryTabernacle in Indianapolis and as the president of Indiana Bible College.  If ever there was an ardent supporter of apostolic doctrine and identity in this generation, he certainly falls into that category.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A Conversation with UPCI General Superintendent David Bernard

At our General Conference this past fall, I was shocked with surprise when my District Superintendent, Rev. Stan Davidson, notified me that my name had been nominated for the Southeastern Regional Executive Presbyter.  I was even more surprised and honored to be voted into the two-year term which officially began in January.  One of the first assignments that I had to fulfill in this position was to attend the Executive Board meeting in St. Louis beginning this past Monday night (3/2/15).  This was followed by two days of General Board meetings all day Tuesday and Wednesday (3/3-4/15).  The General Board meetings went very well with the high point being on Tuesday night when the Spirit of the Lord moved into the N. A. Urshan Board Room.  A massive prayer meeting broke out among the leaders of the UPCI with the gifts of the Spirit in operation and lasting right at an hour.  I believe the entire constituency of the UPCI would have been greatly encouraged to have witnessed this.  There were leaders praying with and for each other and followed by some very powerful testimonies of what God is doing in our fellowship.  There is a lot of momentum and unity among us.  I heard several men who have been on the General Board for 30-40 years say they have never witnessed or experienced anything like this in all of their years of service.    

Monday, February 02, 2015

Apt to Teach - Part 2

I have a few more thoughts to add to the idea of this challenge that comes with being “apt to teach.”  As I revisited this passage again in 1 Timothy 3, it is important to point out that this is the only skill or practice that Paul notes is specific to the church.  He very well could and must be a teacher to his family but the overarching purpose of being apt to teach is that he provides instruction to the church.  We also must give consideration to the idea that all of the character traits that Paul lists; blameless, husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, not given to wine, no striker (not violent), not greedy of filthy lucre, patient, not a brawler, covetous, ruling his own house well, having his children in subjection, not a novice, and having a good report of those that are around him; that all of these matters will have a great impact on his ability to teach.  If these matters are compromised, his public ministry of teaching will be publically ignored and privately mocked and scorned.  This matter of character in apostolic ministry has far more reaching boundaries than most of us who are in public ministry grasp and understand.  You cannot separate your life and practice from your doctrine. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Apt To Teach - Part 1

Last year as I floundered through writing out the Pastoral Epistles in a journal with a fountain pen (all in the great hopes that my cursive handwriting would improve), I found an intriguing quality that was listed by Paul.  He instructed that a man who was desired the work of a bishop (KJV), overseer and bondservant (ESV), servant (ESV), and superintendent and overseer (Amplified) be “apt to teach”.  I was particularly struck by this phrase as I wrote the words from Weymouth.  He translated 1 Timothy 3:2 as “with a gift for teaching” and in 2 Timothy 2:24 as “a skillful teacher.”  The Amplified Bible also had a remarkable rendering also for in 1 Timothy 3:2 it is “a capable and qualified teacher” and 2 Timothy 2:24 it was “he must be a skilled and suitable teacher.”

I am certain that all students have at one point had a teacher or two or three who really stood out from the rest of the mix as someone who pushed your life in a direction of excellence.  I personally have had some who did that very thing for me as I have navigated through my years of education.  I have been incredibly blessed to have taken part in a wide range of education both in the classroom and clinical setting.  What I have realized is that of all the teachers that I ran across there were just handful who could fall into the category of being an excellent teacher.  It is apparent that Paul fell into the category of exceptional.  You can see his excellence coming through in a variety of ways when you read the account in Acts and scattered throughout his epistles.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A Book Recommendation - Don Basham, Deliver Us From Evil

I am quick out of the chute this year having already finished a book in the first week of the New Year.  This book is not a particularly new book with an original publishing date of 1972 but it has gone through at least thirteen printings of the original edition.  Furthermore it has gone through a revision in 2005 and I have the second printing of that copy also.  Last year, I wrote several lengthy posts of some personal Bible study notes as I trackedthrough Kay Arthur’s book, Lord, Is ItWarfare?  Those are still available although I did not complete them because I had started writing with a fountain pen as described in the first post of this year.  I do have those notes written in another journal and perhaps may need to revisit them and post the rest of them.

Spiritual warfare has always been an interest of mine and I have more than 100 books in my personal library that deals with this subject.  The only subject that I have more single volumes about is holiness which logs in at more than 150 books devoted to that subject.  I have discovered over the course of the years that when you read and study about personal holiness and spiritual warfare together that you will have to come to grips with the very close link between to the two.  A commitment to personal holiness gives a Christian great power when he is dealing with the attack of the devil.  Indeed!  A real live devil who is not a concept, theme, or ideal planted in the human consciousness but an arch-angel who fell from heaven to lead a rebellion against God.  Spiritual warfare operates in zones that attempts to weaken the commitments that we make toward personal holiness and when we fall in the battle, we suffer and those around us suffer. 

Friday, January 02, 2015

Beginning 2015 with An Excuse

What a horrible way to begin a New Year!  I am speaking of beginning this year with an excuse.  However, this may not be so much of an excuse as an explanation.  As the year faded from spring to summer and then to fall and finally to the winter, I began to have inquiries as to why I had stopped blogging.  In fact the last post I had put on the Barnabas Blog was way back in April when I was in the midst of the series on spiritual warfare from Kay Arthur’s study guide, Lord, Is It Warfare?  So the questions that came my way were reasonable as to why I had “gone dark” on the Barnabas Blog.  This is why I had nothing to post. . .

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Book Recommendation -- A Commentary on Judges and Ruth -- Robert B. Chisholm Jr.

Several years ago, my plan for preaching started making a marked change in its direction.  I started working with the process of expository preaching.  To this date, I have completed several long passages of Scripture in this manner.  When I started this journey, I realized that my study habits would have to change and also my reading tools would have to change also.  Expository preaching means that you will have to use commentaries and language helps to accomplish the task of preaching God’s Word.  So I started the process of purchasing good reference books that would serve more as tools to go back to more than once.  Last year it was my good fortune to become a book reviewer for Kregel Publications.  They have an arm called the Academic division that supplies some very good reference material for an expositor.  This volume on Judges and Ruth was sent to me by Kregel.    

The most recent commentary is written by Robert B. Chisholm Jr., A Commentary on Judges and Ruth.  Kregel sent me this book several months ago while I was just beginning to do an expository series on Psalms.  I judged this book by Chisholm and liked it so well that I ended up purchasing Kregel’s volumes on Psalms by Allen P. Ross (the last volume is not available yet which will cover Psalms 90-150).  The Ross volumes are also very good and worth the investment. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 4, Day 3

This is Week 4, Day 3 from the devotional Lord, Is It Warfare?  There is something that you will find as you develop a disciplined approach to a daily time in the Word.  Your mind and spirit will be stretched by the Scripture and you will also find a rhythm that as time passes in your devotions that you refuse to allow a rushed attitude to consume your time with the Lord.  (Although today’s entry is relatively short compared to some of the other ones.)  Busyness and hurry are great liabilities to us as we read through the Bible.  The soul is greatly fed as you work slowly through these assignments because overcoming the rush and hurry of devotion moves your thoughts into places that you would not normally be able to go.  That is why I know that the messages that I preach weekly make their most impact when they are “crock-pot” fare versus quick, grab it as you can “microwave” pabulum.

-We all come from Adam no matter what evolutionists and scientists might imply.  We were also created in the image of God. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 4, Day 2

If you have not purchased your own copy of this devotional, Lord, Is It Warfare?, I want to encourage you to do so (Used books on Amazon start @ 0.42).  Not only is there an opportunity to interact in a personal journal with your own notes but the guide is designed in such a way as to encourage you to mark up your Bible.  Today’s entry is a little shorter than usual simply by the nature of the assignment that was given.  Following are my own reflections.

-This world was not always in the condition that it is in now.  It once was a perfect paradise that hosted God and His creation of Adam and Eve and the host of things that filled the world.  In a single moment, the unity of God and His creation was shattered by the wily snares of the serpent.  He tempted Eve and she fell to an unimaginable state. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 4, Day 1

I would like to offer a bit of explanation for my two-week layoff from writing.  On early Tuesday, April 15, my mother-in-law passed on to her eternal reward.  I have literally known her my entire life as my parents moved to Dothan when I was two and we started going to church here in Dothan.  My father-in-law had started the church a little over a year prior to our arrival.  In that little home missions setting the Lord was at work but also His grace was at work in my own life too.  I married Teresa, the Patterson’s oldest daughter, in August ’86 and my life was entwined even more in the Patterson family.  My mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer about four years ago and despite surgery it came back with a vengeance in January 2013.  A little over two weeks ago, her condition rapidly deteriorated and she required around the clock care.  I preached her funeral this past Friday and it was one of the most challenging ones that I have had to do.  However, it has made heaven all the more real to me and her illness caused me to dig into the Word and really look at what it has to say about heaven and where saints go when they pass from this life.  I would tell you this, I have done a great disservice to myself and to our church for not preaching more about heaven and the resurrection.  I specifically did something special when I realized that her condition was not going to improve outside of a miracle, I got a leather-bound journal and started writing in it massive amounts of Scripture on what heaven was to be like.  There are old hymns that have fallen out of our worship services that I wrote in that journal.  Furthermore, I read sermons from the old masters of the past and found that they preached about heaven from a whole different angle than what is preached today.  Suffice it to say this. . . you must make it to heaven!!!!!  No matter the cost, it has to be a priority in your life. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 5

I want to pick up with the Week 3, Day 5 portion before moving to Week 4, Day 1 for tomorrow.  I got behind a bit last week but I really did not want to omit Day 5 because of some of the content that I ran across as I was journaling through it.  I will not add Day 6 or Day 7 because it is primarily the summary of the previous material in the week with a host of Scriptures that are designed to bring out various descriptions of the devil.  The following is pretty much the exact content of my ramblings in my journal. . . with a fountain pen J.  Specifically a TWSBI 580 medium nib loaded with Pelikan 4001 Turquoise ink J.

-Note that the people who are involved in the spiritual war are saints.  The devil has no need to attack those who are already in his kingdom.  If you sometimes have a tendency to think that evil-doers have an easier path, the Bible very clearly articulates this in Psalm 37 and 73.  Those psalms both have the same theme. . . the prosperity of the wicked.  On the other hand, never think for a moment that they are never without troubles, difficulties, and huge battles with their conscience.   

Friday, April 04, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 4

Starting out with a great apology, I had fully intended to work through this segment last week.  I know that some of you are following along with your own copy of Lord, Is It Warfare? and your journal and you have been reading some of my thoughts in addition to what you are doing.  I apologize for not getting on with this last week but I had some time pressures that sort of knocked me off of my routine.  The next thing that I thought about doing was moving on to the next week in this series but there were some things in Week 3 that I felt like would be important and I did not want to omit them from the series.  I will certainly do my best to get back on track in the next few days. 

Beginning with Week 3, Day 4 there are a lot of recommendations concerning working through your Bible with a fair amount of passages.  As I worked through some of those passages, I was troubled by them and that is the reason that I did not just skip to Week 4 because I wanted to address my own troubles in a Scriptural and honest way in the way that we often view God.  Job 2 has a tendency to rattle some of our Americanized ideas about the identity of God and how He may operate in our lives.  Again what follows are the exact notes that I have in my own personal journal. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 3

We are continuing to work through the devotional by Kay Arthur, Lord Is It Warfare?  The focus is on the fact that the devil often fills the role of a roaring lion.  What follows are the notes that I have written in my journal. 

-Of all the names in Scripture for the devil, none is used more frequently than Satan.  It is used 55 times in the OT/NT.  (1 Chronicles 21:1; Job 1:6; 1:7; 1:8; 1:9; 1:12; 2:1; 2:2; 2:3; 2:4; 2:6; 2:7; Psalm 109:6; Zechariah 3:1; 3:2; Matthew 4:10; 12:26; 16:23; Mark 1:13; 3:23; 3:26; 4:15; 8:33; Luke 4:8; 10:18; 11:18; 13:16; 22:3; 22:31; John 13:27; Acts 5:3; 26:18; Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 7:5; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 11:14; 12:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Timothy 1:20; 5:15; Revelation 2:9; 2:13; 2:24; 3:9; 12:9; 20:2; 20:7.)

-Devil—DIABOLOS—Accuser, slanderer, from the verb that means to attack, to curse, to be an adversary, to resist.  All of these actions are the way that he will choose to operate in our lives.  Whatever is necessary to cause chaos and opposition is the goal. Thirty-five times he is called, devil, meaning “slanderer.”  (Matthew 4:1; 4:5; 4:8; 4:11; 9:32; 9:33; 12:22; 13:39; 15:22; 17:18; 25:41; Mark 5:15; 5:16; 5:18; 7:26; 7:29; 7:30; Luke 4:2; 4:3; 4:5; 4:6; 4:13; 4:33; 4:35; 7:33; 8:12; 8:29; 9:42; 11:14; John 6:70; 7:20; 8:44; 13:2; Acts 10:38; 13:10; Ephesians 4:27; 6:11; l Timothy 3:6; 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26; Hebrews 2:14; James 4:7; l Peter 5:8; l John 3:8; 3:10; Jude 10; Revelation 2:10; 12:9; 12:12; 20:2; 20:10.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 2

Thanks to all who have sent e-mails and other social media messages that have encouraged me that this is helping.  As always, I think that what John Wesley wrote in one of his journals more than a hundred years ago about how that spiritual growth and reading the Bible and devotional material were very closely linked.  Frequently I give great consideration to the blessing that we have for being able to read especially when the statistics note that the majority of the world’s population cannot read and are illiterate.  There is some benefit to writing down lists in your journal of the simple things in life that you can be thankful for.  Such as being able to read, clean water, antibiotics, a functioning city sewage system, a yard that needs mowing, glasses, peanut butter, and a bag of jalapeno flavored kettle chips.  Thank God that you are able to sit up and read a book late at night in a quiet den or living room on a sofa or easy chair.  Gratitude flows when you start writing down your blessings!  Paul encouraged us that in everything we are to give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18). 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 1

We are back in the saddle again after taking off a week from the devotional, Lord, Is It Warfare? by Kay Arthur.  I would like to reflect some on the layout of the book.  I have not blogged about Days 6 or 7 from Week 1 or 2 but there are some very valuable insights to be gained as you walk through the process of the book.  The book is designed in such a way that it walks you through various passages of Scripture and allows you to gather insight as you work in a topical manner.  I would also note that for those who are ministers or teachers of Bible study groups that I have gathered somewhat of a guess in the resources that the author uses.  Two old resources used much in generations of the past before everything came to us in electronic format was Nave’s Topical Bible and the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge.  Orville Nave works at the Bible exactly as his text suggests, in a topical manner.  The TSK is a bit different but is one of the most massive and intense cross-referencing systems of Scripture that I am personally aware of.  If there is another one that is more powerful, I am not aware of it.  Both of these tools are extremely helpful to one who is working in the Word. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 5

Week 2, Day 5 of Lord, Is It Warfare? opens up a huge and somewhat muddy theological answer that has been debated and argued for a long time perhaps even centuries.  The looming question is ‘did God create evil?’  Did he create the devil purposely to trip us up?  Did the devil have a free-will as man did?  Those types of questions can fit into the place that Paul told Timothy to avoid.  He told him that there are questions that simply create and “gender strifes” (2 Tim. 2:23) and he told him to avoid those kinds of things.  It has been my experience that oftentimes some of the foolishness in the name of “academics” that goes on in seminary classrooms do not strengthen faith in the Word or confidence in God.  So this is one of those sorts of questions.  I am aware of one thing in this matter; I have been filled with the Spirit. . . It empowers me. . . but I have an enemy who wants to destroy me!  That is the fact and there will be a struggle between good and evil until God intervenes. 

From the Scriptural passages the devotional brings out, it is noted in John 1:1-3, Nehemiah 9:5-6, and Colossians 1:15-16 that all things were created by God.  I made a connection by reading a little further over in John 3 that men choose darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.  Therefore I would come to a conclusion that at some point apparently the devil possessed a will that moved him toward the trap of pride and he attempted to exalt himself against God. 

The lesson that I need to take away from this would be the fact that I must live out Romans 6 and fight against the tendency for pride to consume me.  The only way to effectively live above and beyond this is for my life to have a complete dependence on the Spirit and walk out Romans 8 so that my mind is Spirit-filled and Spirit-led.  Pride in the heart of the devil is what led to him being expelled from heaven.  Remember that Jesus said it is not what is on the outside that soils a man’s life but rather the things that are stored in his heart (Mark 7:20-23). 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 3 & 4

I am again combining two days of Lord, Is It Warfare? because the length of Day 3 was comparatively short and I chose not to go down a rabbit trail although as you shall see, I did with Day 4.  Day 3 dealt with the Ezekiel 28 passage that describes a lamentation or a funeral dirge of sorts for the king of Tyre.  But as you look at the passage, there are a couple of observations about different words in verse 2 as compared to verse 12.  My primary translation for this devotional study has been the ESV. 

The word “prince” appears in 28:2 and comes from the Hebrew word, NAGID which has the connotation as a ruler, leader, prince, or a captain.  This position would be commonly for a leader in government, religion, or the military.  The word “king” is used in 28:12 which uses the Hebrew word, MELEK.  It is most commonly used for a man who is in a position of control of a city-state, small nation or government.    But there is a further idea that Ezekiel develops when he notes that it is speaking of a cherub.  This reduces the equation to the fact that this king of Tyre was a symbolic figure that could be the role of the devil.  This cherub would have been a dark angel or demon who was in charge of a group of angels.  This would define the role that the devil filled as we remember that Lucifer was one of the archangels.  At this point, the devotional encourages us to make the connection between the Garden of Eden as described in Genesis and the account that is given in Ezekiel 28.  I would think that we could see the very clear connection between the two especially when we look at the symbols and types that are used in other places in Scripture. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 2 & A Short Rabbit Trail

This study guide, devotional Lord, Is It Warfare? has been designed in such a way that we are asked questions that aren’t leading but rather to help us to get to an understanding of what the Bible has to say about spiritual warfare.  Years ago, I can remember a writer, whom I have long forgotten, giving the advice that we are to interrogate the text when we are studying Scripture.  This is a very effective way to gain more than just a superficial knowledge of Scripture.  If you can recall the old description of an adverb, it is a word that describes who, what, when, where, and to what extent.  Those are useful questions to ask when you are looking at the Bible.

When we take a first look at the enemy, who is deceptive, deadly, and intent on destroying everyone who is in allegiance with Jesus Christ, we find him in Genesis 3.  A couple of other OT chapters also give a description of him.  There is the brief allusion that Isaiah makes in Isaiah 14 and there is a bit longer region in Ezekiel 28.  It is a passage that has reference to the king of Tyre but many biblical scholars also hold that imagery used by Ezekiel would fit the bill for the devil also.  What causes us to come to this view is because of the words that the prophet uses would in no way entirely describe a man.  While there are some descriptions that would fit a human king, there are also words that help us to see that the devil would qualify in this description also.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 1

I am going into the second week of the study guide/devotional by Kay Arthur, Lord, Is It Warfare?  Today we come at the concept of spiritual warfare with a bit of a different angle.  The first emphasis that should garner our attention is Jesus Christ.  All spiritual warfare must began with the understanding that the devil has been defeated at Calvary and through the work of the Cross.  The enemy has been defeated at the present moment, he has been allowed to operate on the earth until his appointed time of judgment.  Since one of the primary themes of Ephesians deals with this matter of spiritual warfare, it is clear that Paul came to some conclusions when he wrote Ephesians 1:15-23, in fact there are three truths to understand:

1.      1:18—There is a hope to which we have been called.  That hope helps us to understand that there is a point in the future of which we will have rest from the attack of the enemy.
2.      1:18—The riches of this inheritance or position has been given to us and is clear through the work of the Holy Spirit. 
3.      1:19—There is an immeasurable power given to the saint of God through the resurrection.

Jesus Christ is in a heavenly place.  He has all power, authority, dominion, and rule over the dark world of evil.  However, if this is the case then why is there a conflict that a born-again man has to contend with?  If the Lord has all the power in the in this world and the one we cannot see, then why the seeming triumph of evil right now?  Those are valid questions to consider.  These questions fall into a category called theodicy which basically is an understanding of why God allows evil to exist in our world.  Volumes and volumes have been written on this subject and there is no way to give an explanation in this very brief blog post.  It is perhaps a rabbit trail for another day.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Days 4 & 5

One of the things that this study guide, Lord, Is It Warfare? works toward is getting our minds to think in a biblical direction about spiritual warfare.  One of the benefits of this is that it will move your mind to areas of Scripture and characters that exemplify the principles.  Day 4 and Day 5 are both relatively short although is some more interaction with Scripture that is necessary.  By virtue of this, you make a strong connection between the events of Acts 19 and the principles that are expressed in Ephesians 6.  One thing that comes to mind is the closing out of Ephesians 5 and beginning of Ephesians 6 where Paul speaks of marriage and the family.  The reality of the matter of it all is that these too can be battlegrounds that the enemy will attempt to insert himself into.  While spiritual warfare takes place in the heavens, it is played out in a very practical setting where we live our lives. 

Ephesus, because of occultic influence, was a place that was driven by fear.  The shamans, pagan priests, and others given to the influence of the “curious arts” (defined as such in Acts 19) played and preyed on the fears of the people.  This caused me to consider the aspects of America culture where that we pay money to experience fear.  However, I would cause you to think in this way with me.  If the enemy can cause fear and use themes that have ominous spiritual outcomes to be confined to a movie screen, the viewer’s compartmentalize it and believe that there is nothing to it.  What a brilliant move but very deadly move by the enemy.  Kay Arthur notes, “Films, TV, and recorded music evidence increasing control from the ‘dark side.’  Occult images fill even children’s films, cartoons, and video games.”    

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Day 3

We are to Day 3, in the first week of Kay Arthur’s Lord, Is It Warfare? study guide.  You need fair warning to know that this entry today will force you to think through some matters that are facing our society today.  One of the spiritual battles that we face on a regular basis is when a there is a developing fearfulness of speaking about these things and how that you will be perceived among your friends.  It is very interesting the subtle peer pressure that is prevalent in the church these days both among ministers and members when we speak something that is solidly Word-based that is opposed to a humanistic bent.  Say what you will but this is spiritual warfare!  The same spirit pushing on Jehudi to take a penknife to Jeremiah’s words in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 36:23) wants to do the very same thing today. 

To combat this and other attacks, Paul gave us some instructions:

·        Be strong in the Lord—v. 10
·        Put on the whole armor of God—v. 11
·        Take the whole armor—v. 13
·        Stand—v. 13
·        Stand—v. 14
·        Put on the belt of Truth—v. 14
·        Have the breastplate of holiness/righteousness in place—v. 14
·        Put the shoes of the Gospel on your feet—v. 15
·        Take the shield of faith—v. 16
·        Take the helmet of salvation—v. 17
·        Take the Sword of the Spirit, the Word—v. 17

The following format is the manner that I have recorded these notes in my journal.  It does not follow an active paragraph style. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Day 2

I am continuing from yesterday as we go through the devotional study guide (study guide is a serious understatement) by Kay Arthur, Lord Is It Warfare?  I am in much encouragement of you working with this book and a handwritten journal.  At the end of this, I am certain that you will feel a sense of accomplishment but even more than that you are going to have developed a sense of understanding of what Scripture has to say about the matter of spiritual warfare.  Furthermore for those who serve in churches as Sunday School teachers, Bible study group leaders, and even pastors, you are going to find a wealth of material that will come to you at the right time as you are teaching.

One quick note of explanation for those who are not familiar with some of the Greek language that the New Testament was written in.  On yesterday’s post you would have noticed that after the words for flesh, lust, and war from 1 Peter 2:11 in yesterday’s blog there was a “G” followed by a number.  This is the system that was developed in the original Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance used by Bible scholars, preachers, and teachers who did not have a background in the Greek language.  Instead of having to know the language, the student could work with the number system.