Our Priestly Service

… pronounce them clean … pronounce them unclean … (about 40 times in Leviticus 12-15).

The Old Testament priests could not cure anyone, they could only pronounce cleanness or uncleanness. Only God could cure. So when Jesus walked this earth, He showed His deity by touching lepers and saying, “You are clean,” by stopping the flow of blood that made a woman unclean, and by restoring maimed limbs and blinded eyes that kept people from entering into the place of worship. 

Jesus said to His followers—and He still says to us today—“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you“ (John 15:3). Jesus cleanses our bodies and our consciences, and He keeps us clean until He presents us to His Father in Heaven (Hebrews 10:22; Jude 24).

We have been cleansed for a purpose. What is that purpose? In short, it is for our priestly service to our world. 

I find it interesting that the person in the Old Testament who was pronounced clean was then anointed in the exact same ways as the priests were when they were consecrated for service in the tabernacle (Leviticus 14:14-18, 25-29; 8:23-24, 30). When Jesus sent His followers out to minister, He consecrated them with the New Testament mandate, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, CLEANSE those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give“ (Matthew 10:8). 

Not just, “Pronounce them healed, raised, cleansed, and freed,” but “Heal, raise, cleanse, free”!

Jesus has cleansed us AND consecrated us to be His ministers. He has given us His authority not just to make pronouncements, but to actually heal and deliver! 

Warnings To The Churches (book review)

J.C. Ryle died in 1900, placing his writings two centuries before our own. And yet his Warnings To The Churches sound an alarm that is just as relevant to the Church and her leaders as if it were written last week! 

Bishop Ryle spoke and wrote with an authority that sounded much like the Old Testament prophets thundering, “Thus saith the Lord!” And at the same time, you can also hear his ardent love for Christ’s Bride as tenderly as the beloved disciple John, who called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Taken together, that means Ryle’s words are steeped in authoritative, loving Scripture. 

He pulls no punches in pointing out how even Church leaders have bought into a definition of “church” that doesn’t quite line up with the way Jesus defined it. He reminds pastors of their heavy responsibility to preach the Word of God in all its purity. Just like Jesus, Ryle warns church leaders of the “leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And he calls for loving confrontation of those leaders who have succumbed to the “leaven” just as Paul confronted Peter. 

This is a challenging book to read simply because of the gut-level honest introspection that it will require. I certainly couldn’t read through this book thinking I’ve got my act together, and I doubt few others will be able to either. If you are a church leader and you would like Ryle’s iron to sharpen your iron, Warnings To The Churches is a definite must-read for you.

Authority Comes From Submission

Authority comes from submissionOut of all the unlikely places, I never would have expected that guy to be a theologian! After all, the ones with the amazing insight into how God works are supposed to be deep into Scripture, know the ancient biblical languages, and be able to preach profound sermons. This guy had none of that.

He was simply an officer in the military who had an aide-de-camp who was sick. He had enough basic knowledge to see that Jesus could do something for his faithful assistant, but—strangely enough—he didn’t think he was worthy of having Jesus come into his home.

He said something that caused Jesus to be amazed. When Jesus is amazed by something a man does, that gets my attention!

This military officer said, “Although I’m an officer who can tell people what to do—when I say, ‘Jump!’ they say, “How high, sir?’ When I say, ‘Go!’ they say. ‘Yes, sir!’—I’m also a man under authority. I recognize that you too, Jesus, are a Man of authority. So if You simply say, ‘Go!’ to this disease, it will go.”

Jesus was amazed!

What theology came from that guy—a Roman centurion! This military officer saw that authority came from being under authority. Jesus had authority because He remained under the authority of His Heavenly Father (see John 12:49-50; Philippians 2:5-11).

We can learn a valuable lesson from this unlikely theologian. Authority comes NOT from trying to get our way, but from doing things God’s way … from staying under His authority. All the authority you will ever need is found in the Word of God (see Matthew 9:6-8; 10:1; 16:19).

This is a great story. Check it out for yourself here.

Links & Quotes

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“Authority never comes from you, but from God through you, therefore let God introduce or withhold as He chooses.” —Oswald Chambers

“The best of men are men at best; and, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, and the power of divine grace, hell itself does not contain greater monsters than you and I might become.” —Charles Spurgeon

“The Bible is the grand repository … It is the complete system of divine truth, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken, with impunity. Every attempt to disguise or soften any branch of this truth, in order to accommodate it to the prevailing taste around us, either to avoid the displeasure, or to court the favor, of our fellow mortals, must be an affront to the majesty of God, and an act of treachery to men.” —John Newton

“Seeking the Kingdom of God is not a matter of doing first things first. Seeking the Kingdom is not just the first thing on the Christian’s daily to-do list. Seeking the Kingdom is a first things always proposition, so that whatever is on our to-do list on any given day, seeking the Kingdom is the first things pursuit which defines and directs everything else we do.” —T.M. Moore

Eric Metaxas said, “Children are being sexually abused in Afghanistan, and our soldiers are being told to turn a blind eye. That’s got to stop.” Read more in his commentary Their Custom, Our Complicity.

In the style of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, Burk Parsons writes a letter to pastors.

A thought-provoking piece from Nancy Pearcey, in light of the Kim Davis situation and the Obergefell decision: The Bait-and-Switch Over Same-Sex ‘Marriage.’

Seth Godin points out, “Thinking of one’s self as a failure is not the same as failing.” Read more from On Feeling Like A Failure.

Links & Quotes

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“Then and there, here and now, more and more: This is how we must think about the Kingdom of God and our involvement in it.” —T.M. Moore

“What is the meaning of God sending His own Son, if less than salvation was intended; if less than Incarnation will do, less than blood, less than death, less than resurrection? Oh let us understand the greatness of God’s provision for us, and in that greatness, read at once our death and our life, our condemnation and our deliverance.” —Horatius Bonar

David Wilkerson says, “It is one thing to speak with what we think of as authority—in a loud, boisterous voice, seeming to have total control. But in God’s kingdom, authority is something altogether different. It’s something you have, not something you simply speak.” Read more in his post The Authority Of Jesus.

Wise words from N.T. Wright when it appears God isn’t at work.

GREAT NEWS: Hilton Hotels & Resorts has officially announced a change in policy and will remove all on-demand pornographic videos from the in-room entertainment services at all of its properties worldwide.

Parents, here is a really good list of Scripture verses to help your children memorize as they head back to school.

TrumpToShakespeare_edit-01Info We Trust has a unique way of analyzing the data from the first GOP debate. I love this!

[VIDEO] Dennis Prager make 5 outstanding arguments about the morality of abortion—

The Domineering Pastor

ArroganceI wrote to the church, but Diotrephes who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. (3 John 9)

The King James Versions says that Diotrephes loveth to have the preeminence. He loved his title, his position of authority, and having everything in the church flow through him.

He wanted not only to approve who spoke in the church, but even with whom church people could socialize outside of church. He wielded his positional authority like a sword and cut off people from the fellowship of the church if they didn’t join lockstep with him.

He used fear and intimidation to demand people follow him, and wouldn’t receive a loving letter from the Apostle John. To counteract any who would question him, Diotrephes engaged in gossip and character assassination of any he perceived to be a threat to his position as pastor.

For shame! 

This type of attitude has no place in the Body of Christ, especially among the pastorate! Jesus came to serve, and taught us to do likewise. Jesus didn’t snuff out the smoldering wick or stomp on the bruised reed, but ministered lovingly to all. Peter told shepherds to never use their position to lord it over others.

My fellow pastor, having the title of pastor doesn’t mean I’m the smartest person in the room, or that I have all the answers. I am one member of the Body of Christ. Each member of the Body needs all the other members of the Body. I should humbly serve, never demanding allegiance to me or blind obedience to my wishes. I should never try to hide behind my title, but be the most transparent, the most willing to admit my mistakes, and the first to forgive and to ask forgiveness.

Lord, guard my heart against the spirit of Diotrephes!!

Respecting Elected Officials

During our prayer time yesterday I was contemplating Apostle Peter’s instruction to, “Fear God, and respect the king” (1 Peter 2:17).

  • How do I respect the king (or the other elected officials in my city, state, and country)?
  • Does respect mean saying “yes” to every law that’s passed?
  • Can I be respectful and still disagree with those in elected office? How?

During our hour of prayer at the church last night, I was really wrestling with how I as a Christian should show respect to those in authority in our governments. Here are the nine things the Holy Spirit showed me.

I can show respect to those in authority by:

  1. Not forgetting that God placed them in their office (Daniel 4:25).
  2. Praying for them regularly (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
  3. Obeying all laws that aren’t immoral (Luke 20:25; Acts 5:29).
  4. Disobeying laws that are immoral (Esther 4:16; Acts 4:19).
  5. Holding them to biblical standards (Proverbs 8:15).
  6. Insisting they uphold the United States Constitution (Ecclesiastes 8:2).
  7. Reminding them that God’s wisdom is the ultimate standard (Proverbs 8:22-23).
  8. Requiring them to honor their promises, unless those promises conflict with God’s Word or the Constitution (Esther 1:13; 8:8).
  9. Speak to and about them without complaining or arguing (Philippians 2:14-15).

I’m working on living these out. What do you think?

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