Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Man Pleasing Ministry

Hey Truth Seekers, David here! I'm excited to announce that this month, Tim Lewis, Truth Infusion minister and Youth pastor at First Assembly of God in Ashdown, AR has graciously written a piece for the blog site. In his blog, Tim directs us to take a realistic, and perhaps uncomfortable, look at the motivation behind  much of today's "churchy" activity. Perhaps our motivations, while good, are not what God knows is best. I challenge you to see where you might line up with this word from God…

A Man Pleasing Ministry
by Pastor Tim Lewis

Nearly all my life I have been in and around church and “churchy” things. I was saved when I was 13 and felt a call to the ministry when I was 14. I played in the praise band and even got in trouble a time or two for playing my bass too “charismatically”. Vacation Bible School was always a big “to-do” for me as well. My wife and I were often in charge of the recreational activities of the day. It was something we both looked forward to year after year.

Shortly after turning 21 I took my bass playing to a different level when I joined a Christian Rock Band. Man, I thought I was accomplishing BIG things for the Kingdom… don’t get me wrong…none of what I have told you are bad things. As a matter of fact, they were all guardrails likely keeping me from running off the road and into some really bad stuff. Still, through it all there was still something missing… I had a question burning inside for which I could not find and answer. My question was this; “If I had been doing all of this “ministry work” for the Lord, then why do I feel so empty inside? My answer soon hit me like a brick in the face. Ya know, like one of the ACME bricks from Looney Toons.

I began to realize that all my work was selfishly positioned to gain a man pleasing response. Paul draws the line in the sand with this verse coming from Galatians 1:10- For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ (NIV). Black and white, right? Listen to how the Message Bible puts it. Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave. Wow! Have you ever been in a church service in which you got real excited, jumped up and down, and even yelled a few amens? Maybe you even shed some tears and felt a little horripilation (goose bumps)! However, soon after leaving, you could not see a single piece of evidence of change in your life…

Perhaps you were fooled into thinking that you were receiving something Godly or spiritual, when actually, it was nothing more than a rise in endorphins.  Were you somehow robbed or cheated? After all, you are paying tithes, so you should get your money’s worth, right? Now, don’t arrange a meeting with the elders and deacons just yet…hear me out. Unfortunately, this is a problem that is occurring in churches all across America. For some reason we have adopted a school of thought that says we must meet a certain spiritual quota in order to have a successful service. It is almost like we are earning churchy church points that we then use to compare our selves with other individuals in the Church.  
We have even come to a place where we can fabricate a false move of the Holy Spirit in our services. So that, at the end of the day, we can make it look like we win, and the people are pleased with their church experience. If that doesn’t satisfy us, we create programs and events so that, at least to the world, it looks like we are doing good things.

Here’s what happens. When we do not see the immediate effects of the work that God is doing in someone’s life, we as ministers can get very discouraged by thinking we are not preaching, teaching or ministering in a way to produce change in an individual’s life. This is the result of a lie that the enemy has snuck into our church circles. We come to believe the lie that that if we do not see brokenness, repentance, encouragement, or healing with our natural eyes then nothing is happening. But I want to tell you, God is a supernatural God. The work He does cannot always be seen in the physical. Paul says it like this I(Paul) planted a seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.1 Cor 3:6 Paul didn’t always see the fruit of his labor but you better believe he had faith that what he planted, someone would come and water.  You see, the sooner we as Christians realize that God’s work in someone’s life is simply that, God’s work, the sooner the pressure of believing that we have to out perform the next guy is released. Better yet, the sooner we can get refocused on preaching and teaching the true Gospel.

In the first chapter of Galatians, Paul confronts the church for straying away from the gospel. The same attack the enemy used back then is the one he is trying to use today. He has already lost the ultimate battle, so the only thing he can do now is attempt to distort the truth for us today. The more he can distract us and keep our eyes off of Jesus, and what He did for us, the more he can keep us bound and empty. In verse 6 Paul says. 6I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different Gospel- 7Not that there is another Gospel... The background of the book of Galatians is this; Paul went planting churches in southern Galatia, teaching and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, not long after he left the area, a bunch of false teachers came along telling the Galatians that they still needed to live under the Law. One can only imagine Paul’s frustration; he goes on to tell the Galatians that they were foolish and hypnotized. Now, how much different is that from what is happening in our churches today?

We too, have been hypnotized. I believe that over the last few decades there has been a rise of a false sense of spiritual accomplishment. We tend to think that if we offer the right programs, play the right worship music, and speak with the right theatrics and enthusiasm, we will be able to please the people and keep them coming back. By doing this, we are in effect saying that Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection was not sufficient. In reality, this should be the foundation on which all else is built.

A thought came to be a while back; when you read in the Bible that Jesus had a huge following everywhere He went, and that Peter preached on Pentecost and 3,000 were added to the kingdom. It is very hard to believe that somewhere in all this, people were not being pleased. I tend to think there was a little bit of both happening.

Allow me to illustrate what I mean: Let’s imagine that I am lame, lying by a pool. Now, it just so happens that, every once in a while, an angel comes down to stir the water. After the angelic stirring takes place, the first person that can jump in the pool gets healed. Sounds like a deal, right?! I, however, have a problem; I can’t walk, and I have been this way for 38 years.  My only hope is for someone to throw me in pool, at just the right time, and for the healing to truly work. Otherwise, my day could turn bad really quick. After a few years of hanging out by the pool with no luck, a man comes up and asks me if I want to be healed. Of course I say yes! He then instructs me to get up and walk and to take my mat with me. By golly, I’m pleased! But much more than that, I am healed…I’ve experienced a change in my life!

If you are a believer in Christ, you have everything necessary to continue the ministering work of Jesus Christ! Perhaps the reason people were always following Jesus around was because they were experiencing change everywhere they went.  We are not called to please the world. As a matter of fact, Jesus tells us that the world will hate us. Personally, I am thrilled to lay down the burden of trying to compete with other ministers. I know that in everything I do, as long as I am leading people to the cross, God will supply the increase. I also rest in the fact that their joy, their pleasure, and their happiness is a by-product of their changed life, in Christ. It’s time that we, as the American church, give up and let Jesus take over.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Your Temptation and the Faithfulness of God by Pastor Todd Reed

Hello Truth Seekers…David here. Im exited to welcome Pastor Todd Reed to the Truth Infusion Blog Site this month. I know you will receive a blessing as Brother Todd shares the TRUTH about "your temptation and God's faithfulness". Now, sit back and enjoy the fresh bread of God's word….

                  The story is told of the little girl whose father caught her eating a chocolate chip cookie after he had specifically instructed her not to.  Her response, “I’m sorry Daddy.  I didn’t mean to eat it.  I was just smelling of it when my tooth got caught on it!”  Every one of us deals with temptation of some sort on a daily basis and unfortunately it’s not always as innocent as chocolate chip cookies.  But God has given us a powerful promise to give us a constant way of victory over constant temptations in our lives.
1Co 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and He will not let you to be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.” (ESV)

                  The right understanding of this promises strips from us several of our excuses for our own failures in battling temptation.  Excuse #1:  “Nobody knows what it’s like to be me!” You are not alone in your temptation. No matter you’re your circumstance, you are not the first, nor will you be the last to deal with your specific temptation.  Because of that truth, there is someone out there somewhere whom God has equipped to relate to you and to help you be accountable. ( 2 Cor. 1)
                  But God is faithful,….” This is not referring to God’s faithfulness to you, but first and foremost to His faithfulness to Himself.  Excuse #2: “I’m not hurting anyone but myself.”  God is still about the business of making His name glorious in the way He lives out His life through His children.  So His promises in this verse concerning what He will do to ensure you victory over sin, are for the purpose of making Himself look good in you! Because He is using you to make a name for Himself, He “will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.”
                  Excuse #3: “God tempted me and I failed!”  James 1:13 tells us that “God is not tempted by eveil, neither does he tempt any man.”  Verse 14 goes on to say “But every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desire and enticed.”  So much for Excuse #4: “The devil made me do it!” Yeah right,  for the most part it’s all you! AND, James 1:15 wipes out Excuse #5: “Just a little bit won’t hurt me” when we are taught that “sin when it is fully grown brings death.”

But, remember that His promise in 1 Cor. 10:13 is that “he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.”  On top of that, Colossians 3:3 says that “your life is hidden with Christ, in God.”  In other words, if any temptation ever gets to you, it has to get past God the Father, and God the Son first.  And, when it reaches you, it then has to deal with God the Holy Ghost inside you!  The temptation didn’t slip past the Father and the Son, so you can rest assured that it is not beyond “your ability” to resist.  Isn’t it interesting that the verse says “your ability”.  Not your Father’s ability, your pastor’s ability, your neighbor’s ability……YOUR ability.  Only God knows your ability.  Only God knows where your threshold truly is, and He makes no mistakes.  So much for Excuse #6: “I’m not strong enough!”  Well, God is saying something else, but you have to believe Him and act on it. “Your ability” also refers to your responsibility.  It is at this point where your choice comes in and you alone decide whether you will give in or resist.  But God has promised a way out!

He says that “with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape….”  This is great news!  The problem with temptation is that it appeals to our desires, so that it looks good to us even if it is not good for us. We know that what we look at the most, we move towards, like the little girl and the chocolate chip cookies!  So God is saying that along with any temptation He ever allows to come to us, there also comes with it a way of escape.  So take your eyes and your attention off of the temptation and focus on looking for the way of escape! This is beautiful!  He has given us a way out!  Every time!! The verse goes on to say “that you may be able to endure it.”  That word endure implies that this is not just for short term problems.  It doesn’t take endurance to run from home to first base.  It is distance running that requires endurance.  So this promise is not only good for those pop-up temptations we encounter, but also for those long-term battles that don’t always go away quickly.  So if you don’t immediately see the way of escape, keep looking.  Sometimes it may not be obvious, and it may take a while and a lot of searching to find it, but all the time while you are focusing on finding the way of escape, you’re NOT focusing on the temptation!    Which brings us to the most beautiful part of the whole promise!!

While you are looking for the way of escape, you are looking for God’s promised provision in the right now.  In a very real way you are looking TO HIM AND you are looking FOR HIM right where you are!  Jesus said, “I am the Way……”  Ultimately HE IS the way of escape, and the whole time you spend looking for the physical way of escape while dealing with your personal temptation you are really looking for HIM right where you are.  And the most amazing thing happens in the process while you are looking for Him!! He tells us in 2 Cor. 3:18 that the more we look at Him, the more we become like Him.  So in the process of fleeing from temptation, in looking for the way of escape, He is causing me to look more and more like Him, and not just to look more like Him, but to be more like Him AND to “BE CHANGED into that same image from glory to glory!” (2 Cor 3:18)

So hang on to His powerful beautiful promise.  He has given us all a way of escape from the power of temptation, and from the power of sin, and it is not mainly about us winning our battle, but it is about Him getting glory.  He is Faithful to Himself, and He is much more serious about dealing with your sin than you are.  So “believe”, “search”, “choose”, “endure”, and in the process enjoy Him changing you to be like Him.

1Co 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son

May God Bless you, 
Pastor Todd