Monday, December 24, 2007


The Top Ten Questions for Potential Elders

There has been a Tradition that say no one is "perfect enough" to be a Church Leader. But what happens then is that someone unqualified takes the control, often as a "church boss" in the worst sense. What a person is NOW is most important. Compare 1 Cor. 6:11. The church in the New Testament appointed elders and deacons in a short time. Being "full of the Holy Spirit" and of "common sense wisdom" is vitally important. Read Acts 6:1-6.

"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:26-28 (NKJV)

"Now it's up to you overseers.
Be on your toes—both for yourselves
and your congregation of sheep.
The Holy Spirit has put you in charge
of these people—God's people they are—
to guard and protect them.
God Himself thought they were worth dying for.
Not bossily telling others what to do,
but tenderly showing them the way.
When God, who is the best Shepherd of all,
comes out in the open with His rule
He'll see that you've done it right
and commend you lavishly."

The Jewish Synagogue as model.

The synagogue was developed while Israel was held captive in Babylon. Since they no longer had access to the Temple, some form was needed for Bible study and worship. This same form provided the pattern for the church as they spread across the first century world. Church leaders (also called elders, bishops, pastors) were to take the lead in spiritual matters as a board of directors. Church helpers (also called deacons, servants) were needed to administer to the physical needs of the congregation. In the Christian Family, the whole person (body, soul, spirit) was encouraged to grow and to develop into a Christ-like maturity. Paul speaks of church organization and body-life in Ephesians, 1 Timothy and Titus.

Eph. 4:11-16
And He filled earth with His gifts.
He handed out gifts of apostle,
prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher
to train Christians in skilled servant work,
working within Christ's body, the church,
until we're all moving
rhythmically and easily with each other
efficient and graceful
in response to God's Son,
fully mature adults, fully developed
within and without,
fully alive like Christ.
No prolonged infancies among us, please.
We'll not tolerate babes in the woods,
small children who are
an easy mark for impostors.
God wants us to grow up,
to know the whole truth and
tell it in love—like Christ in everything.
We take our lead from Christ,
who is the source of everything we do.
He keeps us in step with each other.
His very breath and blood
flow through us, nourishing us
so that we will grow up healthy
in God, robust in love.

1 Tim. 3:1-7
If anyone wants to provide leadership, good!
But there are preconditions:
A leader must be well-thought-of,
committed to his wife,
cool and collected,
accessible, and hospitable.
He must know what he's talking about,
not be overfond of wine,
not pushy but gentle,
not thin-skinned and touchy,
not money-hungry.
He must handle his own affairs well,
attentive to his own children
and having their respect.
For if someone is unable to
handle his own affairs,
how can he take care of God's church?
He must not be a new believer,
lest the position go to his head
and the Devil trip him up.
Outsiders must think well of him,
or else the Devil will figure out a way
to lure him into his trap.

Thought Questions:

1. Is this man committed to his wife and family? One who dearly loves his wife and family is capable of dearly loving God's People.

2. Has this man shown wisdom in decision-making? Does he have common sense?

3. Has this man shown the ability to keep his temper in check? Everyone has a 'temper' but we learn to control it. Some are more controlled than others. The man who will make a good elder will have a tough skin, a tender heart, a short memory, and a long fuse.

4. Is this man willing to be inconvenienced for others? Will he go the "second mile"?

5. Is this man capable of teaching Scripture to others? You are not simply looking for a man who knows how to say something, but rather a man who has something to say - something from God.
6. Has this man established wise personal habits?

7. Does this man have a strong sense of stewardship?

8. Does this man have a track record of discipling leadership? You're looking for a man who's got a track record of leading people closer to Jesus.

9. Has this man been a Christian long enough to maintain humility? Paul says he must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited. The chief occupational hazard of spiritual leadership is pride, and too much visibility too soon in a man's Christian pilgrimage can inflate his ego.

10. Is this man respected in the community? The first quality listed is "above reproach," literally meaning "not able to be held." In other words, if charges were leveled against this man, he wouldn't even be held for questioning because his reputation is so solid. He's Teflon, not Velcro. His integrity is such that accusations just won't stick.

A Final Word of Challenge:

"The local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders." If it’s true that everything rises and falls with leadership, then as your congregation selects its elders, you’ll want to take a close look again at this picture of a spiritual leader in 1-Timothy 3:1-7. The work of the church is too critical, the stakes are too high, the consequences are too eternal for a congregation to choose its leaders hastily (1 Timothy 5:22). Choose poorly, and the church will miss opportunities to build the kingdom.

But if leaders are chosen wisely, the church will flourish. And when the church flourishes, the gospel is preached, the lost are found, souls are saved, sin is confronted, children are taught, marriages are mended, addictions are broken, the hungry are fed, the grieving are comforted, the lonely are embraced, the wounded are healed, the community is transformed, and the nations are reached with the good news of Christ.

When the leaders are at their best, the church will be at its best, and when the church is at its best, it is breathtaking to behold. Look out world!

A final reminder. Remember: this picture Paul provides in 1 Timothy 3 is a sketch, not a snapshot. As you search for leaders, you’re looking for a great resemblance, but you may not find an exact likeness.

Keep in mind that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Look for excellence in character, but apply these standards with grace. You can (and should) find men who have learned to sin-less, but you will never find men who are SINLESS. (1 John 1:6-10; 2:1-3)

At the end of the day, the good news is this: everything rises and falls with One Leader, and while we may fail, He Never Does.

PS: The Local Church Is A Work In Progress

"Cows always need milking." A farmer understand that some things must be done over and over. The church must be forever "restoring and being restored." The church of the New Testament set an example we try to follow. What does the Bible say about this? The Bible is our Instruction Manual about what God wants us to do. We ask: "What did God say?" But we must read with care. We may "read into" the Bible things not there and miss the point. Compare 2 Cor. 3:14,17. "But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.... Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Tim 1:7 (NKJV)

Paul told Titus: "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you-- " Titus 1:5 (NKJV)

To Set In order. Some things required time to complete. To appoint church elders. These were spiritual leaders in the local congregation, and there were always more than one. Compare 1 Tim. 3:1-7. Note that the church at Ephesus had church elders in less than three years time (Acts 20:17). In every city. Each congregation had its own church elders and church deacons. (R.D.Ice BSNT)

Each of the following are Parables which we can underestand. Church Elders are:

1. "Clerks watching the store while the Boss is away." Someone has to keep things running smoothly. Compare the Parable of Pounds. "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business till I come.'" Luke 19:13 (NKJV)

2. "Older brothers watching out for the younger children." They need protection and guidance. "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you." Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV)

3. "Not dictators but facilitators." 1 Peter 5:2-4. "nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;" (NKJV)

4. "Coaches urging and directing the team on to victory." Compare Hebrews 12:1 where Paul uses the Olympic Games as a teaching example. "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us," (NKJV)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Early Christianity A Cheerful Religion.

"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" Romans 2:4

"Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him." Isaiah 30:18

"So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:46-47

In the Bible, God's Justice is God's Power to save.

"Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin." Psalm 51:1

"When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, 'The LORD has done great things for them.'" Psalm 126:1-2

Says Matthew Arnold: "Christ professed to bring in happiness. All the words that belong to His mission: Gospel, kingdom of God, Savior, grace, peace, living water, bread of life, are brimful of promise and joy. And His cheerful, joyful religion at once won its way by its messages of peace and tranquillity, and for a while its converts were everywhere characterized by their joyfulness and cheerfulness." Acts 2:47

"When men were thus overborne with the gloom and horror of error and sin, into their night of darkness came the religion of Christ. Its announcements were all of hope and cheer. Its language was, 'Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.' 'Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.' 'We rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.' Men were invited to accept the tidings of great joy." Matt. 11:28; Phil. 4:4; 1 Peter 1:8

In the Book of Revelation the theme of the Heavenly Throne Room appears again and again. John is telling us that events are not out of God's hands. Yes, Christians are suffering. Yet Christ is on His heavenly throne. In the vision the 24 elders worship Christ saying: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." Rev. 4:11; Col. 1:16. The Jews of that day surely understood these words. The language is from the Old Testament description of God. The Kingdom of God lay within the vocabulary of every Jew. It was something they understood and longed for desperately. Christ is the King, the High Priest, the Lamb who takes away sin - our Man in Heaven.

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men!" Luke 2:13-14

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world". John 16:33

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To preach deliverance to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed, To preach the acceptable year of the LORD." Luke 4:18-19

"to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' Acts 26:18

"Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:47

Wisdom from Patrick Mead.

Don’t worry about what God’s Big Plan is for you today. We already know far more about what He wants from us than we are living up to so why add to that burden? Instead, start each day with a determination to:
1. Honor God
2. Be available to Him wherever you are
3. And look for Him in each situation you face

Oh, and talk to Him along the road. Not just formal prayers with "Thee’s and Thou’s" but conversational prayers. That is God’s will for your life.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

"And knowing that it is in pursuance of an eternal "purpose" of love that they have been "called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 1:9), they naturally say within themselves, "It cannot be that He 'of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things,' should suffer that purpose to be thwarted by anything really adverse to us, or that He should not make all things, dark as well as light, crooked as well as straight, to cooperate to the furtherance and final completion of His high design." —Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

"Christians sin-less - but only ONE was SINLESS!

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Isaiah 9:6-7 Unto Us A Son Is Given

"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." Isaiah 9:6-7 (NKJV)

What does the Bible say?
God has spoken in many ways but gave His final word through Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:1-3.

It's a Boy! And He's ours!
He'll grow up to carry the government.
His Titles will include:
Wonderful Wise One,
Awesome God,
Father Who Stays Forever,
Prince of Peace.
His rule/kingdom will just keep spreading -
right on into Eternity!

1. God's anger. As Isaiah writes, the only thing burning is God's anger and the ruins of destroyed Jerusalem. Jews are slaves in Babylon. But again God counters despair with hope! A remnant of Israel will come back and rebuild.

> But leap forward in time - The Messiah is Coming! <

a) Salvation is of the Jews.
John 4:22 "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews."

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17 (NKJV)

b) Flesh & blood.
"Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: 'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me." Heb 10:5 (NKJV)

"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law." Gal 4:4 (NKJV)

2. God's Highway. Isaiah 40:1-10

"O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God!" Isaiah 40:9 (NKJV)

What's that Voice drifting in from the wasteland?
Give us a motorway, a straight line of lanes.
An Interstate for God to travel on.
Flatten those dips and valleys.
Cut through those mountains.
Clear the way for God's cavalcade!
See the Salvation coming down from God!
[Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:4-6]

3. Reign of Christ The Savior.

A vision - A Man coming down on a cloud.
He walks straight up to Eternal God.
He's given absolute influence, fame & distinction,
and total control over peoples and nations.
Everyone everywhere celebrates Him -
celebrates in every way they can!
His control is total and permanent!
[Daniel 7:13-14; Rev. 1:7]

"Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,' says the Lord, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'" Rev 1:7-8 (NKJV)


The Message of Saving Hope

[adapted from The Word On The Street by Rob Lacey by RDI]

An awesome scene - a Huge White Throne!
JESUS THE CHRIST is sitting on it.
POWER - earth and sky try to flee!
But there's no where to hide!
See the dead. Some famous, some nobodies,
movers & shakers, all of them,
they're spread out before this Throne.
The files of the Record are opened.
The file marked LIFE is opened.
The dead are evaluated by what they've done.
The sea coughs up its dead.
Death hands over the keys to hell.
The Devil who agitates things and
the beast and his minister of propaganda
get thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone.
But, is your name in the LIFE Files? YES!
Praise JESUS THE LAMB for His Salvation!

Then! Everything changes! New! Brand new!
All heaven, all earth - brand new!
All of the old burned up.
Whoa! This pure, perfect City - New Jerusalem -
is floating down out of heaven - direct from God!
A LOUD SHOUT - coming from the Throne.
From now on God's living here with His People.
They'll be His kind of People.
Death is canceled. No tears, no crying, no pain.
Write this down, word for word.
Done. Dusted. Complete. Finished.
I am the A and I am the Z. The First and the Last.
Gasping of thirst? Pure water from the Spring.
Free! No charge! The water of ETERNAL LIFE!


China Legally Recognizes Church

The Gospel Advocate paper has this headline in their December 2007 issue. A new Church of Christ will begin meeting August 3, 2008, in Beijing, China, in the 21 Century Hotel, sponsored by the Peachtree City Church of Christ in Georgia. In the rented facilities there will be space for 500 worshipers. And plans are for simultaneous translation during worship into at least 10 languages. The world will be coming to Beijing! "

Christians who have been gathering underground in house churches in China for many years will for the first time meet in a government-sanctioned congregation in August 2008." This is a political move on their part preparing for the Olympic Games. Chairman Mao had forced the Chinese to learn to read & write so they could read his propaganda. But this also made the Bible available to everyone. A "house- church" movement has involved millions. This will bless them - if it is true. [China has a long history of opposing all religions. But recently Christianity has been making huge inroads.]

China now has over one billion people. By 2033 they are expected to have 1½ billion people. India has over one billion. Each of these is a soul for whom Christ died & rose again.

Imagine a congregation where people come an hour and a half early just to get a good seat. A congregation which holds 7 services each Lord's Day in order to get all the people in. And their place of worship holds 17,000. This congregation has a full-time staff of more than 120, including 16 preachers and a number of full-time elders. During worship, simultaneous translation provides four major languages for the racially mixed congregation. The membership is divided into 20,000 'zone groups' of 10 to 15 members. Each zone group becomes an 'extended family' and meets for Bible study on week nights. New people - non believers - are constantly being brought into the local zone groups, not to be 'preached at,' but to be influenced by loving examples of what Christianity is all about.

Then on Sunday (the Lord's Day) the extended congregation comes together for a big celebration of praise and devotion to their Lord and Savior. As one of their preachers said: "It is then that we demonstrate the power of the Gospel and the strength of the church."

"It can't be scriptural" you say? Yet this was the church at Jerusalem. With 3,000 converts on Pentecost, 5,000 men by Acts 4:4, the church in Jerusalem was probably 100,000 members when they were scattered by persecution in Acts 8. They were a true church, guided by the Apostles themselves. They met together in the Temple every day Acts 2:46 and in small groups from house to house.. Wasn't this some sort of pattern? But, you say, "The Jerusalem Church was unique." Perhaps so, in some respects. But what about the church in Antioch which sent out Paul and Barnabas? And others?

Sin And Salvation

Did God know that Adam & Eve would sin before He put them in the Garden? Yes. He is never "surprised." He gave them freewill desiring them to love Him because they chose to do so.

1. God knows the end from the beginning. "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" Isaiah 46:10

2. Jesus prepared to come as Savior before the foundation of the world. "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" Ephes. 1:4

"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Rev. 13:8

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," 2 Tim. 1:9

"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:" 1 Cor. 2:7

3. God's Eternal Plan. "Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:" Ephes. 3:4-6