Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Friday
Jan252013

RACING TO WIN

You’re looking for a church.  You want a place where you can develop a personal relationship with Jesus and with fellow members.  You want to learn how to grow in the full and abundant and adventurous life which is promised and portrayed in the New Testament.  Finding such a church is a difficult quest.

To clarify both the problem and its solution, let’s use a sailing parable.  Supposing, you don’t know how to sail and want to learn.  Also, you want to become skilled in racing.  Let’s also suppose that in the region there are 100 sites where you can take sailing lessons.

At 62 of the sites, the instructors are college graduates and have a graduate degree in sailing – but they’ve never sailed a boat.

At 18 more sites, the instructors have the same graduate degrees and have sailed, but they have never raced.

Twelve of the instructors have raced, but only when they were in junior high and high school.

Two have raced in major competition, but only as crew members.

Four are trophy winners, but only in local races.

One has been a professional skipper and has taken first in both the Mackinac and Bermuda races.

One is a boat builder, and his wife is one of the leading sail makers in the Nation.  They have an Olympic gold medal in sailing.

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If you were in this situation, you’d of course check out the two big winners and probably choose the one with whom you are most congenial.

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Unfortunately, this is the situation you’re in when you pick a congregation.

Most pastors have degrees, but apparently do not have a personal relationship with Jesus.  A minority do have a personal relationship with Jesus, but may not be empowered, because they have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit.  They may conduct inspiring and even thrilling worship – but it’s a performance.  The congregation is mostly passive and goes to Sunday worship for their weekly spiritual fix.  Such churches can have the appearance of presenting life in Christ – but not the reality.

Only a few clergy have anointed ministries.

And here the parable breaks down.  We tend to see the value of a congregation riding on the shoulders of the Pastor – that’s American Christianity.  Unfortunately, it’s not Biblical.  The New Testament speaks of “Elders” – plural – as having responsibilities to a congregation.

The American person who is called the priest, rector, pastor, minister, or reverend, should be the Elder who has a gift of teaching and/or preaching.  In a mature congregation, he would probably not be the head pastor.

Rather, the head pastor should probably be a person who has the gift of administration.  His or her task would be to see that each person in the congregation discovers his or her calling in God’s Kingdom – and is as fully engaged as possible in that calling.  The person is an organizer, mostly working personally and quietly.

There are other Elders with special callings.  For example, only twice have I seen a congregation which had a Minster of Evangelism who was responsible for communicating Jesus to the surrounding community.  He or she has a calling to witness – and even more must have a calling to train and organize the congregation to be witnesses.  It’s the congregation’s task – not just the clergy – to assure that neighbors have the opportunity to experience Jesus’ presence, love and power.

So, your task is not only to find an anointed preacher, who is a mature Christian.  Your task is also to find a mature congregation.  There aren’t many of them.  If there’s more than one in your County, it’s a miracle.

How do you find the most mature congregation in the County?  Same way you’d find the best sailing instructor.  Keep on asking.

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Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2013 by Jack Towe

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