Tag Archives: Body of Christ

I Am a Soldier. This Is My Creed.

In honor of the home-going of a godly man and combat veteran of the European campaign of WWII, W. L. “Red” Sims, I re-post the following.


Soldier’s Creed

Hearing a soldier in the United States Military recite his particular “Solder’s Creed,” whether it be with the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard, is something quite stirring.

Probably inspired by the military creeds of this world, an unknown author penned the following for soldiers in God’s Army, the Church: those bought with the blood of Christ, wearing the whole armor of God, and marching onward toward victory with the Sword of the Spirit in their hands.

The sooner we come to the realization that we are most certainly engaged in a spiritual war, the better. May we all be willing to stand unashamed…”and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

The Christian Soldier’s Creed

I am a soldier in the Army of my God.

The Lord Jesus Christ is my commanding officer.

The Holy Bible is my code of conduct. Faith, prayer, and the Word are my weapons of warfare.

I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity, and tested by fire.

I am a volunteer in this Army, and I am enlisted for eternity.

I will either retire at the Rapture, or die in this Army; but I will not get out, sell out, be talked out, or pushed out.

I am faithful, reliable, capable, and dependable.

If my God needs me, I am there.

If He needs me in the Sunday school to teach the children, work with the youth, help adults, or just sit and learn, I’ll be there.

He can use me because I am there!

I am a soldier.

I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up.

I am a soldier.

No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me, or lure me.

I am a soldier.

I am not a wimp.

I am in place saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name, and building His kingdom!

No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy, or give me handouts.

I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for, or catered to.

I am committed.

I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around.

I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.

I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.

If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead.

I will win.

My God has, and will continue, to supply all my needs.

I am more than a conqueror.

I will always triumph.

I can do all things through Christ.

Devils cannot defeat me.

People cannot disillusion me.

Weather cannot weary me.

Sickness cannot stop me.

Battles cannot beat me.

Money cannot buy me.

Governments cannot silence me, and hell cannot handle me.

I am a soldier.

Even death cannot destroy me, for when my Commander calls me from this battlefield He will promote me to Captain and then allow me to rule with Him.

I am a soldier in the Army and I’m marching, claiming victory.

I will not give up.

I will not turn around.

I am a solder marching, heaven bound.

(Author Unknown)

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. – 2 Timothy 2:3

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Culture Wars, Struggles and Trials

I Am a Soldier. This Is My Creed.

Soldier’s Creed

Hearing a soldier in the United States Military recite his particular “Solder’s Creed,” whether it be with the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard, is something quite stirring.

Probably inspired by the military creeds of this world, an unknown author penned the following for soldiers in God’s Army, the Church: those bought with the blood of Christ, wearing the whole armor of God, and marching onward toward victory with the Sword of the Spirit in their hands.

The sooner we come to the realization that we are most certainly engaged in a spiritual war, the better. May we all be willing to stand unashamed…”and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

The Christian Soldier’s Creed

I am a soldier in the Army of my God.

The Lord Jesus Christ is my commanding officer.

The Holy Bible is my code of conduct. Faith, prayer, and the Word are my weapons of warfare.

I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity, and tested by fire.

I am a volunteer in this Army, and I am enlisted for eternity.

I will either retire at the Rapture, or die in this Army; but I will not get out, sell out, be talked out, or pushed out.

I am faithful, reliable, capable, and dependable.

If my God needs me, I am there.

If He needs me in the Sunday school to teach the children, work with the youth, help adults, or just sit and learn, I’ll be there.

He can use me because I am there!

I am a soldier.

I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up.

I am a soldier.

No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me, or lure me.

I am a soldier.

I am not a wimp.

I am in place saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name, and building His kingdom!

No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy, or give me handouts.

I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for, or catered to.

I am committed.

I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around.

I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.

I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.

If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead.

I will win.

My God has, and will continue, to supply all my needs.

I am more than a conqueror.

I will always triumph.

I can do all things through Christ.

Devils cannot defeat me.

People cannot disillusion me.

Weather cannot weary me.

Sickness cannot stop me.

Battles cannot beat me.

Money cannot buy me.

Governments cannot silence me, and hell cannot handle me.

I am a soldier.

Even death cannot destroy me, for when my Commander calls me from this battlefield He will promote me to Captain and then allow me to rule with Him.

I am a soldier in the Army and I’m marching, claiming victory.

I will not give up.

I will not turn around.

I am a solder marching, heaven bound.

(Author Unknown)

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. – 2 Timothy 2:3

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Culture Wars, Struggles and Trials

Doctrine of Separation Anxiety

So many destructive teachings are nothing more than corruptions of actual truth.  One of those is the Doctrine of Separation, and I believe it’s doing more harm than good.

The Missionary

A while back I visited a church where a missionary was speaking.  I really enjoyed hearing what he had to say, but was disappointed with his prayer card.  Listed on the back, along with his statement of beliefs, was the “doctrine of separation.”

Practiced within the more independent and fundamental branches of Christianity, the Doctrine of Separation is mainly derived from 2 Corinthians 6:17: 

” Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you…”

The idea is that if one group does not agree with another in all areas, then association is considered sinful, or at least liberal.

Ironically, during his sermon the missionary spoke of how good it was to be able to talk to a Charismatic believer in Mongolia.  He spoke of how good it was, in a land where few missionaries frequented, to find anyone to talk to that was a Christian.  But when it came to working together… that was a different story.

In Romania

Years ago, in 1992, I was given the opportunity to travel to Romania for a month.  Long story short, in order to do some first-time evangelical work in a small village, two other young men and myself were blessed to find a young interpreter who wanted to help us.

Actually, the teenage interpreter was helping a Pentecostal church group which was rebuilding grain silos during the day. When he was free in the evening, he helped us go out and distribute Bibles, tracts, and even witness and preach.  He even helped us make friends with the Pentecostal group.

Ultimately, this unexpected encounter led to unplanned cooperation, and the Church of God group paid the interpreter so he could work with us Baptists to get out the Gospel! Because of this, around 80 souls came to accept Christ as their Saviour in one week!

Back in the USA

When I got back to the U.S., thoughts crossed my mind about how Baptist missionaries could develop ways to work together with other Christian missionaries in third-world countries, especially where the work was great.  Pooling local resources and manpower for mutual benefit seemed something totally logical to me… but not to BIMI, the mission agency with which I had traveled.

Unlike Southern Baptist missionaries, Independent Baptist missionaries have to raise their own funds to reach the field.  To me it seemed that being able to work with other Christians to accomplish like goals was a no-brainer, but not according to the Doctrine of Separation to which BIMI held true, as do most Independent Baptists with which I have been acquainted.

Cooperation

The belief that Christians cannot work together, worship together, or evangelize together to reach a common desired goal is crazy.  There are areas that make Baptists (of which I am) different from other denominations, and rightfully so.  These differences, however, are more often than not of little eternal significance.

Baptists believe in baptism by submersion, for example, while Presbyterians normally do not.  Is that worth saying that when it comes to winning the lost for Christ that we must remain separate in all things?  Even if a friend of mine is a Calvinist (which I am not), does that mean that it’s wrong to walk down a street with him as we both preach salvation through Jesus alone?  I like what article XIV of the 2000 edition of the Baptist Faith and Message has to say on the subject:

Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom.  Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people.  Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.”

When it comes to the legalists and the Pharisaical crowd that promotes separation to the extent of mutual exclusion, finger pointing and self-glorification (i.e., “I am right with God and you are not, because you don’t believe the same as me.”), maybe isolation isn’t that bad.

More people than not, I truly believe, think that working together for the greater good of the Kingdom is biblical.  Only a small minority of so-called “fundamentalists” within the Christian faith feel otherwise.  However, the problem is not so much that we believe that working together is good as long as there is no compromise, it’s getting us to actually DO it.  Let the “separatists” stay separate if they wish, but let the rest of us unite, where possible, and do the work of the Body of Christ.

Say what you will about the “herd mentality,” but it is the loners that the lions and wolves look for first.  There truly is strength in unity.

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Filed under baptist, Christian Unity, Independent Baptist, legalism, Uncategorized

Arrest the Finger

If I Robbed a Bank

If, if, if, (please understand) IF I robbed a bank, I can imagine how things would turn out. Aside from being sad, it would probably be comical.

Personality. I don’t have the personality to rob a bank. I don’t like making people angry. It really hurts my feelings when people think poorly of me. I want people to like me, not want to hunt me down. If I were to rob a bank, my request for money from the teller would start with a “Hi, how are you today?”

The Note. What kind of note would I give the teller? It would have to be crafted in such a way as not to embarrass me if read in public. What if I misspelled a word?  What if I used poor grammar? What if I used a preposition to end a sentence with? It would stress me too much to think that I committed a crime for which I would forever be ridiculed for a poor choice of criminal words.

The Getaway Car. That’s a joke. Just as soon as the deed was done, my car would either die, or not even start. We have the worst luck with automobiles. And besides, what kind of bank robber drives a mini-van?

The Defense Attorney. Considering that I could not keep the money I would have stolen, I would not be able to afford a good lawyer. From my experience, most defense attorneys I have met probably buy shares in Orange Suits R Us.

If I were to rob a bank, I would get caught, convicted, and sent to prison for life. My name and reputation would be permanently ruined. The name of Anthony Charles Baker would forever be associated with the seedy, felonious, arch villains of history.

If My Finger Robbed a Bank

Suppose I never walked into one of those cool, new banks that have complimentary cappuccino machines and free back rubs. Suppose I just stayed at home with my little dog and a computer, but let one finger on my right hand rob the bank? All my finger would need would be the correct access codes, false identities, foreign bank account numbers, and an expertly manicured nail with a healthy cuticle.

Eventually, as these things usually turn out, my finger would get arrested. No, wait…I would get arrested, correct? Maybe it would take a few years to track me down. Maybe I would slip up and get caught while spending holiday (as the Brits say it) in Mont Carlo on my 90 foot yacht.

The fact is that I would get caught, and the reality would be that the whole body of Anthony C. Baker would be imprisoned, not just the finger. In other words, you can’t give the FBI the finger and walk away.

A Sinning Member

The finger is part of the body. And just like my finger is part of my body, I am part of the Body of Christ, the Church. The apostle Paul made it very clear that every believer is more than just an individual, but a “member” of the whole. Some, as he put it, are eyes; some are feet; and some are fingers (Romans 12:4,5; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 5:30). Each one of us has a particular function, but each one in particular is a part of a whole.

So often we think that we can act with total independence and bear the consequences for our own sins by ourselves. Many, when questioned about unwise choices will respond with, “This is my life, so don’t judge me…I’ll accept the responsibility.” What they fail to realize is that their sins affect more than one individual member – they affect the whole Body.

If my finger robbed a bank, I could argue, to no avail, that my body was innocent, that my reputation should not be harmed, and that my finger should be held accountable. I could say, “Arrest the finger, not me!” How silly would that be?

The Body and the Name

When the world sees us, they see Jesus. Christians, by definition, are “little Christs.” We, by design, are the hands and feet, the Body of Jesus Christ on the earth. By our actions the world should see that Jesus  is loving and compassionate, but also holy and obedient to His Father’s will. What, then, do they think of our Savior when we live in open sin?

If I robbed a bank with my finger, the authorities would condemn me, Anthony Baker. If I treat my neighbor poorly, am unfaithful to my spouse, or harm my children, what does that say about Jesus? The  eyes of the watching world will say, “If that’s a Christian…”

As part of the Body of Christ, we are responsible for the name of Christ. In “the name of Jesus” we pray, but “in the name of Jesus” we also live our lives in front of the lost. They have a hard time disassociating the “finger” from the Body. The reputation of the Body (the Church) and the name it bears can be stained by the actions of only one member.

Something to Consider

It is not a pleasant thing to consider, but if Jesus is concerned about His reputation, would it be wrong for Him to remove a “member” for causing the rest of the Body, including the name of Jesus, to suffer reproach? That’s what He did in the book of Acts with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1)?

Do you claim the name of Christ? Do you call yourself a Christian? If you do, are you living in open, blatant sin, such as fornication or adultery? What about constant lying, or gossiping? These are things from which we are told to “flee.” Why?  Because you are telling others that the Person attached to the “finger” approves of those things.

If Jesus takes His reputation seriously, to live in rebellion and unrighteousness would seem awfully dangerous. But I’m not pointing any fingers.

(Originally published in 2012, but still very applicable. Wouldn’t you agree?)

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Uncategorized, Witnessing

Should We Pay the Preacher?

Preacher ‘Preesheeashun

Pastor Appreciation DayOctober is “Pastor Appreciation Month” here in America. Churches all over the place are planning different ways to show their pastors how much they care. Thankfully, Riverside (my church) is no exception: this Sunday, after the morning worship, a covered dish luncheon has been planned. Even though I don’t think anyone is planning on giving me the keys to a new Cadillac, Mexican cornbread would be nice.

The Reason for This Post. Because of all this ‘preecheeashun talk, I feel it is appropriate to address something rarely discussed: pastoral compensation.

In a recent edition (Aug. 16) of the Sword of the Lord newspaper, the editor ripped some comments historian David Barton made during an interview with Glenn Beck. The issue being debated was whether or not a pastor should receive an income from the church.

Should pastors be paid to be pastors? Should they earn their living elsewhere? What does the Bible say? Barton and the Sword of the Lord stand in opposition on this subject. I wonder where my opinion will fall?

Barton’s Belief

In June of 2013, ChristianPost.com discussed an interview historian David Barton had with conservative radio personality Glenn Beck. In that interview Barton spoke of the need for pastors to be more like Paul and become “bivocational.” Anything else he considered “church welfare.”

david barton

David Barton, Wallbuilders.com

“What they (pastors) believe is that they can’t survive without it. Now, I’m a big believer in the way Paul did it. Paul was bivocational. He had his own income so that he wasn’t dependent on a church…Right now what happens is so many ministers depend on their church, and I’m sorry, I often call it church welfare. These are guys that get their check from the church and they don’t want to mess with their check, don’t want to jeopardize that.”

It’s time for more pastors to become bivocational so that nobody can tell them what to do with their money. They own their own money…If the church money dries up, great, they are still ministers and they can still preach because they’ve got an income. So I’m really into that mold. And until we get out of the church welfare mold, the church takes care of me and I can’t afford to lose my check from the church. It’s going to be really tough to get the guys in a different direction.” – from ChristianPost.com

Essentially, Barton believes that a pastor should get a job outside of ministry so that he (the pastor) can better perform the work of ministry. In other words, a self-funded pastor is better than a fully-funded pastor.

Note: someone should inform David Barton of the statistics…most pastors are already bivocational. The economy and declining church attendance has made sure of that.

The Sword’s Swipe

In response to David Barton, the Sword of the Lord editor, Dr. Shelton Smith, wrote the following:

dr-shelton-smith-bio

Dr. Shelton Smith, editor of Sword of the Lord

“Barton is ill advised on this. First of all, it is totally scriptural for pastors to be paid and paid well (1 Tim. 5:17,18).

Secondly, if a pastor hesitates to “take a stand” because he is “taking a salary,” he needs to get a backbone and use it. If he can’t figure out something so simple as how to “take a stand and a salary” without flinching, then your church doesn’t need him as pastor.

Third, any church that would hold the salary over the pastor’s head in an attempt to throttle his voice is not a church where I want to be a member.

Fourth, pastors need to be fully funded so that they can invest themselves fully in prayer, preaching, teaching, soul winning, administering the work, and shepherding the flock. If a man does well with all his responsibilities as pastor, he won’t have a lot of time left to make his living elsewhere.”

Booyah! In your face, Mr. Barton! Seriously, this was a good response, but I do have some minor issues with it.

My Perspective

in old office

My study before I built my new book cases. I was making final notes before a Sunday service. Preparation time is more limited when you’re bivocational.

If you are still reading, I would like to make a few observations. If you are not still reading, then you won’t mind that this piece is a little longer than the average blog post.

Firstjust in case you don’t understand the difference, bivocational pastors are not necessarily “part-time” pastors; they do full-time work for part-time pay. “Part-time” is a misnomer. Bivocational guys need to have other sources of income because the congregations they serve cannot afford to “fully fund” them. The amount of responsibility is often the same.

Also, what we are talking about here are pastors of congregational-type churches, not ones who are paid regardless of where or how they perform the duties of their calling.

Second, I would love to be fully funded (“full time”), but the compensation my congregation can afford is not enough to provide for of a family of four (in this culture), especially when my wife cannot do any regular work. If I were able to walk away from my other jobs (driving a bus, etc.) to spend more time in study, prayer, and other aspects of ministry, that would be wonderful. However, I must deal with the cards I am dealt, and God holds the deck.

Third, regarding David Barton’s thoughts, it would be great if every preacher could be like Paul, but we are not. It is unwise to use Paul as the sole template for pastors, for even though Paul was a tent maker, he spoke several times about the appropriateness of meeting the temporal needs of ministers (1 Timothy 5:17; Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 9:9-14; Galatians 6:6).

pastors praying

Bivocational pastors praying for each other at a conference in Pigeon Forge, TN. Small churches; big men.

Fourth, I believe the Sword of the Lord comment is perpetuating a tendency to think of bivocational pastors as second-class ministers. The editor starts off his fourth point by saying “pastors need to be fully funded so that they can…” Can? Are we to understand that pastors who are not fully funded are not able to do what they are called to do? Intentional or not, the Sword is implying that if you want to find a good pastor, you must first look for ones who are paid well. Essentially, if the part-time guy was a better preacher he might have a bigger pay check.

Let me be clear about this. God is the one who ultimately chooses the fields in which His undershepherds are to minister.

“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” – Jeremiah 3:15

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” – Ephesians 4:11-12

Many great men of God faithfully serve smaller congregations, while there are some real heathen leading churches running in the thousands. A man who has a jet is not automatically a man who spends more time in prayer and study. Where one serves should not be an automatic indication of ability.

Finally, it is true that a pastor should faithfully expound the Word without fear. However, without question there are those who fear saying anything to offend the one “holding the purse strings.” But on the other hand, knowing where one’s paycheck comes from can be a useful check on ones ego, brashness, and tendency to run off at the mouth without thinking. Nevertheless, a pastor who muzzles the Spirit for fear of losing his income is no worse than a pastor who’s in the ministry to get rich, and there are a lot of wealthy preachers who fit that bill.

bible“Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time [or pay] is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching [despite your income or other obligations]. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. [So, at that point they’re gonna fire you, anyway.]” – 2 Timothy 4:2-4 NLT

To my fellow pastors, keep up the good work and finish well. Our reward is yet to come.

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Filed under baptist, General Observations, ministry, Preaching

Arrest the Finger

If I Robbed a Bank

If, if, if, (please understand) IF I robbed a bank, I can imagine how things would turn out. Aside from being sad, it would probably be comical.

Personality. I don’t have the personality to rob a bank. I don’t like making people angry. It really hurts my feelings when people think poorly of me. I want people to like me, not want to hunt me down. If I were to rob a bank, my request for money from the teller would start with a “Hi, how are you today?”

The Note. What kind of note would I give the teller? It would have to be crafted in such a way as not to embarrass me if read in public. What if I misspelled a word?  What if I used poor grammar? What if I used a preposition to end a sentence with? It would stress me too much to think that I committed a crime for which I would forever be ridiculed for a poor choice of criminal words.

The Getaway Car. That’s a joke. Just as soon as the deed was done, my car would either die, or not even start. We have the worst luck with automobiles. And besides, what kind of bank robber drives a mini-van?

The Defense Attorney. Considering that I could not keep the money I would have stolen, I would not be able to afford a good lawyer. From my experience, most defense attorneys I have met probably buy shares in Orange Suits R Us.

If I were to rob a bank, I would get caught, convicted, and sent to prison for life. My name and reputation would be permanently ruined. The name of Anthony Charles Baker would forever be associated with the seedy, felonious, arch villains of history.

If My Finger Robbed a Bank

Suppose I never walked into one of those cool, new banks that have complimentary cappuccino machines and free back rubs. Suppose I just stayed at home with my little dog and a computer, but let one finger on my right hand rob the bank? All my finger would need would be the correct access codes, false identities, foreign bank account numbers, and an expertly manicured nail with a healthy cuticle.

Eventually, as these things usually turn out, my finger would get arrested. No, wait…I would get arrested, correct? Maybe it would take a few years to track me down. Maybe I would slip up and get caught while spending holiday (as the Brits say it) in Mont Carlo on my 90 foot yacht.

The fact is that I would get caught, and the reality would be that the whole body of Anthony C. Baker would be imprisoned, not just the finger. In other words, you can’t give the FBI the finger and walk away.

A Sinning Member

The finger is part of the body. And just like my finger is part of my body, I am part of the Body of Christ, the Church. The apostle Paul made it very clear that every believer is more than just an individual, but a “member” of the whole. Some, as he put it, are eyes; some are feet; and some are fingers (Romans 12:4,5; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 5:30). Each one of us has a particular function, but each one in particular is a part of a whole.

So often we think that we can act with total independence and bear the consequences for our own sins by ourselves. Many, when questioned about unwise choices will respond with, “This is my life, so don’t judge me…I’ll accept the responsibility.” What they fail to realize is that their sins affect more than one individual member – they affect the whole Body.

If my finger robbed a bank, I could argue, to no avail, that my body was innocent, that my reputation should not be harmed, and that my finger should be held accountable. I could say, “Arrest the finger, not me!” How silly would that be?

The Body and the Name

When the world sees us, they see Jesus. Christians, by definition, are “little Christs.” We, by design, are the hands and feet, the Body of Jesus Christ on the earth. By our actions the world should see that Jesus  is loving and compassionate, but also holy and obedient to His Father’s will. What, then, do they think of our Savior when we live in open sin?

If I robbed a bank with my finger, the authorities would condemn me, Anthony Baker. If I treat my neighbor poorly, am unfaithful to my spouse, or harm my children, what does that say about Jesus? The  eyes of the watching world will say, “If that’s a Christian…”

As part of the Body of Christ, we are responsible for the name of Christ. In “the name of Jesus” we pray, but “in the name of Jesus” we also live our lives in front of the lost. They have a hard time disassociating the “finger” from the Body. The reputation of the Body (the Church) and the name it bears can be stained by the actions of only one member.

Something to Consider

It is not a pleasant thing to consider, but if Jesus is concerned about His reputation, would it be wrong for Him to remove a “member” for causing the rest of the Body, including the name of Jesus, to suffer reproach? That’s what He did in the book of Acts with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1)?

Do you claim the name of Christ? Do you call yourself a Christian? If you do, are you living in open, blatant sin, such as fornication or adultery? What about constant lying, or gossiping? These are things from which we are told to “flee.” Why?  Because you are telling others that the Person attached to the “finger” approves of those things.

If Jesus takes His reputation seriously, to live in rebellion and unrighteousness would seem awfully dangerous. But I’m not pointing any fingers.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Uncategorized, Witnessing

An Army of One…God, that is.

Back to the basics…or at least one of the reasons for this blog.

My formative years were full of instruction in the ways of legalism an legalistic thought.  Because of this, my view of the Body of Christ was limited.  To me, if you weren’t Baptist (Independent, that is) you were probably not going to heaven.  At the least, and I do mean very least, if you were not Independent Baptist, or if you used any translation of Scripture other than the King James Version, you were a liberal awaiting the chastising hand of God.  I did not work well with other denominations.

Since that time, I have learned that the Christian church is not limited to Independent Baptists,

…but is comprised of many other denominations, also.  Some of these denominations I have yet to even learn of, for there are so many smaller ones in other places of the country and the world.  It is true that denominationalism (the tendency to seperate into various factions) has hurt the Church.  The unbelieving world has used our schisms as evidence that the True Faith is not even real.  Some even say that the many different, competing, and even warring denominations are proof that Christianity is nothing more than man-made.  That being said, however, just because people within the Body of Christ choose to operate differently in their own context, one should not automatically assume that Christian group “A” is that much different than group “B,” at least not until the particular core elements of the faith are examined.  For that matter, just because a congregation claims to be Baptist, does not mean that they hold an orthodox view of Christianity…just look at that group from out west that protests funerals (I will NOT associate with them!).

Well, in an effort to battle against the legalism and denominationalism of my past, I continue to reach across the divides to other brothers and sisters in Christ with an offer of fellowship and understanding.  Does this mean that I have become Ecumenical? No, it does not.  What it does mean is that I want to reunite family.  I want to consolidate forces.  I want to bring healing and strength back to the Army of God which needs to unite in spiritual battle (and I did say, “spiritual”).  This applies even to churches within the same denomination who may fear competition (competition is not a good thing in this case).

In our community of Lookout Valley, there are several churches of various denominations.  Most are very supportive of each other, but a few still maintain strict adherence to the Doctrine of Separation (see my post on this doctrine).  The ones that feel freedom in Christ to participate have come together each year to hold a community Thanksgiving service.  Today I met with a small room full of other pastors in order to plan for this service.  Present were Baptists, Church of God, Assembly of God, United Methodist, and Presbyterian.  Not an unkind word was spoken.  Each shared in prayer for our community and for each other.  Coffee was even provided by Troy Walliser, the pastor of Lookout Valley Baptist, who has a taste for the “foo-foo” stuff (I just had to get that in).  We had a good time and look forward to worshipping together on the 23rd of this month, along with our congregations.

Why do I bring this up?  I say all of this because Christians have a common Enemy.  That enemy, Satan, is always in the process of uniting his forces in league against God’s church.  The battle lines are drawn on many different fronts and his forces are continually amassed and reinforced, waiting for orders.  The school prayer thing is just another example of a unified front.  It is at this time when the true believers in Christ Jesus, those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, put on the whole armor of God and come together to make a stand.  The example of Nehemiah 4 is alway relevant.  Our forces will never be more than Satan’s.  We will always have to come to the aid of our fellow soldiers in their time of need.  But just as that is true, so is it also true that where we gather to stand against an enemy attack, “the Lord our God will fight for us.”

I thank God for the pastors of Lookout Valley who know that though we may have our differences, we are still on the same side.

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