Church, We Have An Issue With Honor

Recently I was visiting a church worship service and watched in awe as the worship leader struggled to get people 64845_611531879474_652730063_nto stand on their feet and give God some praise. While the band played and the singers sang, it’s as if the majority of the audience was not even acknowledging her requests to thank and praise God for something in their life today.

As I stood there raising my hands responding to her request and giving the Lord praise, I couldn’t help but notice a young man walk in and sat in front of me very stoic as if he was mad at the world, and not participating in the command to stand and praise the Lord. Soon the worship leader was exhausted and couldn’t think of anything else to motivate the crowd and just sat down. I watched the utter defeat on her face as she was refreshing herself with a glass of water while the music was playing softly.

Suddenly as if an alarm went off, everyone rose to their feet silently, as if in a hypnotic trance, except for me, but especially the young man who wouldn’t rise to praise the Lord during the worship service. As I turned and glanced through the standing crowd, I saw the object of their attention. It wasn’t Jesus; it wasn’t an angel; it was a man. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t just any man, he was the anointed vessel to minister for the evening. As I noticed him mount the steps to the platform and kneel and pray and then take his seat, I couldn’t help but notice the robotic like cheers that came from the crowd.

I thought to myself, “is this the same crowd that couldn’t be motivated a few minutes ago to thank the Lord?” Yet was cheering as if their favorite team had won the Super Bowl. Something is really out of sync in our churches today, if we can stand to attention to honor our leaders but can’t take time to worship and praise God for who He is in our lives.

Don’t misinterpret me. I have no problem with honor, in its proper context. But when honor and respect for our leaders gets more attention than praise to God, we have a problem. I realize one grants honor to someone regularly, on the basis of position, status, or wealth. Truthfully, I have had my share of being respected and praised for my position and accomplishments, but it can and should also be granted on the basis of character. Honor without such action is incomplete and is merely lip service.

While honor is an internal attitude of respect, courtesy, and reverence, it should be accompanied by appropriate attention or even obedience to the one honored in the correct context. The Lord, for example, is honored when we as Christians, do things that please Him. Parents are honored through the obedience of their children and the military grants honor on the basis of rank.

Ultimately though, the source of all honor is to God on the basis of His position as sovereign Creator and of His character as a loving Father. God the Father has conferred honor on His Son, Jesus Christ. He has bestowed honor on humanity by creating man a little lower than the angelic beings. The Lord has also created spheres of authority within human government, the church, and the home. The positions of authority in those spheres are to receive honor implicitly.

The granting of honor to others is an essential experience in the believer’s life. Christians are to bestow honor on those for whom honor is due. But at no time are we to worship the creature over the Creator. Worship is really an endearment to; a feeling of profound love and attention to someone or something because they have blessed you. Honor is respect and worship is adoration and reverence to someone holier and exalted more than yourself. Let’s not confuse our sense of pride with our need to love.

The believer is to honor God above all else, for He is the sovereign head of the universe and His character is unsurpassed. The believer is to honor those in positions of earthly authority, such as governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7 ), masters (1 Timothy 6:1 ), and parents (Exodus 20:12 ). As a participant in the church, the believer is also called to honor Jesus Christ, the head of the church (John 5:23 ), and fellow believers (Romans 12:10 ), and also widows (1 Timothy 5:3 ).

However, while the reception of honor is a positive experience, it is not to be sought or expected by those whom the attention is given. When honor comes from others by reason of position or status, it is not to be taken for granted. It is out of respect and is earned through life achievements and image. But the recipients of this special attention should seek to merit honor through godly character. Honor can be lost through a disobedient life or reckless conduct, and in exceptional cases, it can also be stolen through jealousy and envy.

We should seek to honor and worship The Lord as our Christian duty and respect the vessels The Lord has chosen with honor. Remember, let’s not lose focus on who and how much we give this special attention to. Balance is the key term here. However, it is not equal balance we give to God and our leaders, it is positional balance that must be sought. The Lord is supreme; above all others and above all praise that we can utter. He is and always will be in the first position and refuses to share His Glory with another.

It is really up to the recipient to redirect honor and praise in its proper context or else we can become intoxicated with the disease of self-glory like satan. People can only worship what they see, so it up to leaders to redirect people to worship in their spirit what they can perceive. If not, they will conceive images of greatness and not visions of God in His Holy temple.

I was at another worship service where the pastor was introduced with great fanfare. The audience stood, applauded and cheered as he came up, but he cautioned, “If you can praise a man like that, you ought to give God your highest praise.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Forward – ADVANCEMENT

Moving Forward

Progress has a strange ring to it today. Especially for those of us who call ourselves Christians. In many Christian circles the most overused buzz term is, “Getting to the next level or season, or simply the next.” However, I am still confused as to what that language represents. I guess it really depends on how one views progress. But for the majority of people today, progress is advancement. But the question still remains, “Advancement to what?”

In our personal life, it is advancement to some level of comfort and peace of mind; in academics, it is advancement to higher education for personal or professional gratification; in the business world, it is career advancement to positions and/or wealth increase; and in the church it has become an excuse for personal luxury and strange revelations from egos gone mad.

But in the scriptures, progress is a reverse process for mankind. Instead of man progressing from primitive to modern, as normally thought, the bible presents man as “Fallen” from the original design and intent The Lord planned for our existence. If we believe in a Creator-God, and I do, then we are forced to accept that what responsibilities He gave to Adam were an advancement of his spiritual communion with His Creator. Daily evening garden encounters with God balanced Adam and kept his ego from getting out of control. When that covenant trust was broken, Adam was driven out of his inhabitation with a prohibition not to return.

According to scripture, the further man was removed from the core of his relationship with his Creator, the more his hunger for creativity increased. Lacking that spiritual connection, man sought to replace his thirst for spiritual connectivity with imaginative thoughts. The Advanced English Dictionary defines “imagination” as the formation of a mental image of something that is not perceived as real and is not present to the senses. It further states, “It is the ability to form mental images of things or events.” And finally concludes by adding, “Imagination is the ability to deal resourcefully with unusual problems.”

The Genesis account in the bible then describes the process of inventions, not as God intended, but as man imagined them to be.  So the world, that God gave dominion to man to rule under a divine mandate, is now reduced to a cheap imitation of his Glory by fallen man’s personal achievements.

So man, imagining a material world that could satisfy his thirst for creativity buried deep in his subconscious by the Holy Spirit, violates divine protocol and faces the consequences. By the time of Noah (Gen. 6:5), nearly all of mankind was intoxicated on the fumes of their egos. Immoral behavior had become the number one, all-consuming human addiction. The “Flood” (Gen 6) cancelled the growing cancer for a while as God favored Noah. The “Tower” construction in Genesis 11 was another attempt at man to control his own destiny. The Lord again annulled human imagination gone wild (Gen 11:6-7) and favored Abraham (Gen 12).

The process is reversed with the advent of the second Adam, Jesus Christ, and the healing began to restore man to his original splendor with God. A new covenant is then reintroduced that involved God re-entering the thinking process of man and re-activating spiritual protocol (Heb. 4:12).

So our real advancement originates with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A mandate to replace imagination with real faith and trust in God. A return to being under authority while you function in authority. A return to sanctification of our will to His Will as we prepare for glorification. We move forward to discover a personal intimacy that was lost in the Garden but is being restored in Christ. And Jesus has given us an interesting pattern to adopt. Principles won’t be effective on a corrupt mind. So we can stop trying to rationalize with people regarding holiness. Remember, Jesus became our ultimate example by becoming sin, overcoming sin, and finally annihilating sin in the mind and lastly it will be eradicated in the body.

Here are some steps to “Moving Forward.”

  1. REFLECTION – the miracle of your past is not that it is simply history, but that you survived the attacks on your kingdom assignment. You are still standing – that is real advancement. Moving beyond the repeat cycle of sin and advancing to a greater goal. Real recovery is never falling in the same area again and again. But breaking the chains of bondage to addictions that aren’t healthy.

 

  1. FOCUS – don’t be distracted by the scenery of this world that is becoming increasingly impersonal and detached daily. Refocus relationships above achievements and fellowship beyond accomplishments. If you are not driving, it is very easy to be distracted by the scenery and not stay focused on the destination. However, vision is necessary after you get your correct GPS instructions. Faith functions through sound not sight and patience will sharpen your comprehension.

 

  1. EVALUATION – progress is only realized when you test it. Actually moving forward will not happen unless you can “test” out of the level that you are at now. In truth we must discern how much of what we learn is instructional, entertaining, or just plain destructive.  Advancement is a process and you never really know that you are ready to proceed if you can’t pass the test and achieve a passing grade.

We can “Move Forward” to our next level or season with prayer, study, and intimacy with the Holy Spirit. We can propel to our destiny with humility and our purpose will be revealed over the next horizon of blessings.

 

 

Making Battle Plans

The church has long enough buried it’s head and sought to wait for the return of Jesus Christ while the world is in chaos. We need to stop praying with a desire to leave this world until we honestly can confess to carrying out the mandate of Jesus Christ to salt and light the world.I want to leave four keys that will help the church return to its’ mandate.

1. Pray Expecting To Receive. We say often, “Lord send the power.” I wonder if we really know what that means. It doesn’t mean that the power is going to drop supernaturally from the sky. No, it is going to spring forth from within you (John 7:38). The power of God lies within you, but it is up to you to call it forth

.2. Build A Collective Unity Against Satan. This simply refers to you relating properly to fellow believers to gain proper access to the Throne of God. Our strength and power is in collective praying, not individual petitions. Jesus stated that where two or more gather in his name, He would be there.

3. Clear The Air Before Tuning In. Believers are going to have to learn not to approach God before groundwork is laid to assure the requests will be granted. Psalms 66:18 . We have to be properly related to God, ourselves, and to other believers to open up channels of blessings.

4. Pray In The Spirit Repeatedly. Most of the time our prayers focus on selfish desires or vain ambitions. This is because we sometimes allow flesh to overshadow the ultimate plan of God. Praying in the Spirit will provide you with the equipment necessary to fight on a greater sophisticated front. This refers to allowing the Holy Spirit to verbalize your requests (ROM 8:26)

The church have been ordained for victory. The type of victory that gives glory and honor to God. We can impact a sin torn society; We can upset the state of world affairs; We can change the position of the economy, but it’s going to take a lot more than glitter or talk. We are going to have to pray effectively.

As a “Body”, Jesus has commissioned us to become governors of world events. He stated, “Anything you ask the Father” and “To go preach, teach and make disciples.”No, the church is not going to stand still and watch the world be taken by the devil. We are being called upon to rise above the threats and give the battle in the hands of the Lord.


The Trojan Horse Trick

We are at some major crossroads in Christianity today. A few “Trojan horses” have been placed on our door steps and we have accepted the bait. In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus king of Sparta.  After many years of battle the war was won by the Greeks after leaving a tall wooden horse for the Trojans to take into their city to worship. Seeing this as some sign of victory, the Trojans pulled the horse into its city and the Greeks were able to conquer them from within the gift they thought was a sign from the gods.

The modern church is like this ancient Troy. As long as they kept their gates closed they were invincible. It is the gifts that we have accepted in the church that we thought were blessings, in reality, have been curses. It is what we have decided to mimic like the world, you know, its style, music, and performances that have become “center stage” and the spotlight of Glory is dimming. Confuse the “Body of Christ” and it becomes too drunk for the “head,” Jesus Christ to mount its shoulders.

As long as the church was persecuted it remained strong. It fortified itself with prayer, doctrine, and developed separate life styles to purify itself. Suddenly we weren’t trying to conquer the world for Jesus Christ anymore, just blend into the fabric of society. So when the church blended and made peace with its enemies, it became corrupt. The church’s history has moved from pleasing the Lord to pleasing society to pleasing itself.  It’s as if the church is now announcing that the war is over so – let’s have a “Holy Ghost” party and wait until Jesus comes.

We are still debating worship styles – High verses Low Church forms, liturgical or free expression. We advertise options as if we are covering all the bases and maybe, just maybe, the Lord may show up in one of these offerings. We are observing new and old worship shifts as churches now are becoming “entertainment centers” instead of “Houses of Worship.” Either we want to replace a style of worship or mix the concepts together. The “Convergence Movement” suggests we mix three styles of worship together. Others suggest we replace battle-worn styles with newer versions and contemporary players. Still others want a return to the past glory of the church. We have become so concerned with the mechanics of worship that we have lost what the original intent of worship really was.

So do we rediscover the historical or do we just flow with the traditional, or adjust to the contemporary? Or better still, do we wait for some new fad (Trojan horse) to excite our emotions and dim our intellect?  Ideology has replaced theology as the word of the day and fun has replaced conviction as the goal of worship.  But the real questions are – who are the cooks? Where is the Holy Spirit in all this mixing and brewing? And has anybody given it the taste test before serving the meal?

On top of everything else, this has not been the year of divine government as have been prophesied, but of holy chaos. Leadership is being contested in the body of Christ like never before.  Every time I look, there is some new title, person, or reformation declaring succession from the Apostles. Or some new revelation or concept introduced that is confusing the Church that knows little doctrine. Whatever becomes popular becomes saturated with cheap imitations until you can’t distinguish the real from the phonies.

Is God really calling for an alignment of charismatic popular leaders with style and gimmicks to rescue the church? Does the church need rescuing? Rescuing from what anyway – the world or itself? Do we need revivals, conferences, conventions, or seminars that are masked as change agents for the church?  When in reality many are just capital stewardship programs that maintain luxury lifestyles instead of funding kingdom mandates.

The vessels today are becoming more important than the treasure of the Gospel they should be containing. Jesus told the Pharisees of His day, “You make clean the outside, but inside you are rotten.” In fact, the fashion today is to dress up with enough jewelry and vestments to impress a king and become untouchable or to dress down in jeans to impress people that you can relate to and become popular.

This new comfort-loving fun filled church has taken society by a storm. The Trojan horse of fun and entertainment has poisoned the church. I know I sound like a killjoy, but I want to drive the point home that we can’t please both God and pleasure. What’s pleasing to God may not be pleasing to us but will eventually work for us.

We have become hosts to the emotional and mental gratification of people’s needs without the change of lifestyles required to be holy. Oh, did I mention holy? What an archaic term. We don’t address what it means to be acceptable to God anymore, just what is acceptable to us. It’s not the style of worship we should be concerned with; it’s the goal of worship that should motivate us to love, trust, and obey the Lord.

In conclusion, let’s return to what’s sacred to God. Our music and our praise should reflect what we know and believe about God, and our doctrine should reflect our worship. Too many Trojan horses have made their way into the front door of our sanctuaries and intoxicated us with religious pop culture.

The Right Perspective

The Christian world today is divided into three major divisions – Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. It is also divided by doctrine, worship, and government. The Catholic and the Orthodox churches are organized as an organism, inter-connecting in its’ doctrine, worship, and government. The Protestant churches function as organizations or denominations, which with its’ own doctrinal flare, worship style, and governmental standards. Properly speaking then, a religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity. So when a church suggests that that it is non-denominational, I guess they are saying they have no standards, ethics, or traditions they follow. They just make it up as they go along.

The problems we face as pastors are how to lead, protect, and grow the flocks under our care. The danger we face is if we are listening too much to the voice of the people instead of the voice of God. Pastors are misdirecting their churches by taking opinion polls from members regarding how, when, and what to do in the church. We seem to care more about entertaining people than pleasing God.

We have been selected to be a depository of God’s Grace and revelation to the flocks that we have been assigned. The historical development of the bishopric is that they were not assigned to any one flock. In fact, the primary purpose of the bishop was to be a circuit preacher to the flocks. Their main assignment was to serve communion and perform baptisms and set policies for their churches; while deacons were responsible for the daily care and maintenance of the church.

 

The Issue of Marriage

The issue of marriage today is whether we define it as a Christian Rite or a civil right. As Christians marriage is viewed as sacred. As believers we view it as an honor and commitment not just a privilege. As the world sees it is another step of acceptance of civil rights. It is basically a means by which they can express their celebration and vindication of who they are apart from God. So whether they marry or not, salvation is not in a ceremony.

Becoming God’s Honored Spokesman

Dennis, Tony, Greg

The term College of Bishops is used in our circles to describe a fellowship of clergy meeting for education, communion, fellowship and sometimes discipline. It is our assignment to maintain the Faith, strengthen the leaders, and establish proper protocol procedures.

It is in this light that some of us have missed the call of the episcopacy. Discipline is essential to maintaining structure and fellowship. We not only need by-laws in which to function in this fashion, but we also need protocol canons for unity. Clergy discipline is the hardest to maintain. And it is often less stressful to give it than receive it.

I have been a constant spiritual consultant for many focus groups, and I am amazed at the number of church leaders falling, resigning, or involved in some sort of financial or sexual scandal that damages their ministry. I do believe that the devil is at work tempting and using our greed and pride to cause division.

The scriptures indicate that pride goes before destruction. If this is true, than the problem is deep seated, and the source is within our own projection of ourselves being messiah and dictator to the flocks we serve. As a rule we make up ideas to grow the church with interesting business concepts that have little spiritual rewards but great financial gain. As a standard, we also struggle with accountability by dismissing the rejections from those close to us as a threat of our authority. What a dilemma, to become God’s mouth-piece for change and the financier of the people at the same time with no reward for either.

We are in a deep financial recession but God is still God. Whenever His people needed assistance – the cry was for God to do something supernatural. As leaders, we need to stop scheming for alternative sources of blessings that get us caught up in secular ponds, but return to prayer and fasting as the mandate for your blessings.

Our homiletical source pool has got to change. We have to stop structuring our messages around the latest trend, fad, or popular word of the hour. Let’s return to a biblical mandate and a source “word” from the Holy Spirit. Our churches don’t need to turn their plates down and fast, we do. Our churches don’t need more prayer time, we do. There are some things that will not break without direction from the appointed leader for the appointed time.

 

In Search of True Leaders

My personal reason for alighting with the episcopacy and offering episcopal training around the country is to help bring respect and recognition back to the leadership of the church. I believe it is biblical and foundational to maintain a standard for excellence and perfection. However, I don’t believe this is the only style God is approving or directing. We must learn to respect different gifts in the body of Christ and stop wanting to be the policemen for the anointing. Let God be God. Remember, we cannot just look different we must be different in our character and image. The authority of the words of Christ is resting on the credibility of representatives of the Gospel today, not the reputation of ancient saints of old.

The level of warfare today is ever changing and is spreading demonic activity in our churches like wildfire. I have been mentioning for a few years now a need to return to true prayer not just for leaders, but from leaders. We need prophetic prayer that will put leadership in the fore front to respond positively instead of reacting to situations as they arise.

The pattern is that true intercession comes from committed leadership and true power from corporate unity and not competition. My desire is as we mature we become a beacon for hope and a light in darkness for others who have lost their way. I spoke about developing “Prayer Clinics” for at least 4 years now and I have started a personal prayer commitment to pray with and for leaders on a daily basis. My churches in third world countries are being blessed by our web cam meetings and conference call prayer fellowships. I have also begun sharing this power and illumination with leaders here in this country.

The church world is bathing in its’ own self success statements to build empires and have forgotten its’ mission call to spread the Gospel into the world, not market the Gospel in your neighborhood. The fruit of righteousness will be the sacrifice of leadership to submit and commit to new dimensions of servant hood in the body of Christ.

The early Apostles related salvation as an event – The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Somehow we have so complicated the simplicity of scriptures that we don’t even know how we arrived at this new enlightenment or revelation. Returning to the foundation has been a constant struggle because of division. The problem is we can’t all agree on how to interpret the foundation because we keep romancing the 1st century apostolic traditions through 21st century stereotypes.

Lost Opportunities

Somehow, I sense the Holy Spirit wanting to do more than present the church with easy options to research information via the internet.  I also believe the Holy Spirit is preparing us for more than just having endless conferences, seminars, and workshops that inform, but seldom change us. Yes, we are the enlightened age-the technological geniuses of the 21st century; this new high-tech church world.  But where does our fight with the forces of darkness fit into of this new illumination?

 

The church now has the greatest opportunities in the history of the world to inflict our strongest blow on the enemy with the greatest amount of impact in the shortest period of time.  With the success and failure of world-wide Christian media ministry, we have to lick our wounds and realize the issue is not so much pointing our fingers and finding blame among our peers, but focusing our attention at the source, the Devil. The enemy has turned electronic opportunities in the hands of the church into entertainment in the mind of the world.

 

Think of it, no other generation has the advantages we have.  Why, with the various multi-media resources we have at our disposal in the last 50 years, we have been able to do what has taken the church world over 2,000 years of witnessing to carry out.  That is to spread the gospel into almost every part of the world.  I am constantly amazed when someone informs me of some media product, with the many insights, the Lord has given me, that has transformed to them. Think of it, what is presented to one audience can be shared with countless thousands of others.  I don’t have to be everywhere at the same time and still fulfill my purpose.

 

Now what does all this mean, just a golden opportunity to inflate my ego through self-gratification and fame? I am convinced we have to be very careful that our popularity does not become glory-stealing from God. The more we inflate our ministries the more we deflate our purpose. Maybe I can discover I am the greatest preacher inAmerica? Or better still the most persecuted messenger for Jesus because I promote the truth. Somehow, I don’t believe this is what the Holy Spirit had in mind when He poured himself out and into the church.

 

The one thing the church needs more than anything to affect the society of its day is a return to preaching sin; to proclaim righteousness to an unrighteous world. To speak to religious reform, and condemn martial breakup, to reverse youth rebellion, and change hatred in the home to peace. Why are so many today flocking to our churches? Is it because we offer them the good life or good grace? Do we inflate the promises and downplay the curses? Are we challenging the righteous or excusing the sinners. Do we turn experiences of sinners into messages of hope or promote them for confessing their past?

 

We have been granted the opportunity no generation has had before or will have after us.  We are in our finest hour.  The mediums that have been made available to us to enjoy   are our ticket to glory.  We have been blessed to achieve media exposure, not so the world can be exposed to us, but Jesus.  That means once we have the audience’s attention, what are we going to say?

 

Discovering Hidden Treasures with Thomas Hill & Dennis M. Golphin

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