Tuesday, August 12

Possible futures....

"And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment." 1 Chronicles 12:32

William Carey, Father of modern Protestant missions, said "Expect great things; attempt great things."

This morning, before I left for work at the Diagnostic Center, I dropped a question to my brethren at the Out of the Wild website, a great source for encouragement, edification, empowerment, and wisdom from a band of brothers spread throughout the world (www.outofthewild.ning.com).

The question was simple; a result of the continuing disconnection I feel happening with the current place I call my home church. Such a dynamic change has been taking place as the Pastor promotes, even on Sunday, the Henry Wright's "God never wants you to be sick" prosperity doctrine.

Should I start 'my' own church, how do I know that it's God's will? And how do I prevent myself from falling into the danger I see so many leaders in the church plunging into: false doctrinal teaching, or diffused doctrines?

Ok, maybe not so simple........

For the last several months, every time I pass by this old, decrepit Jehovah Kingdom Hall, I don't look at the fallen marquee or the weeds....I see a simple, dignified church of God's people....small, direct, and serving the true gospel mission: To preach the Gospel, to make disciples......

A haven for sinners, those who are saved and those who aren't. Where the gospel is adhered to, preached, edified, and modeled. Where a spade is a spade, a hoe a hoe, and sin called sin. Where we identify ourselves as saints in progress, imperfect sinners, who are destined for the Promise and working to affect God's kingdom here, NOW, in our own walk.

I have joked to my friend when I arrive to see her and her family that it would be a BIG church.....a church of one or rather three, since I could make my kids attend with me......, most likely......

I know nothing about 'running' a church; from obtaining the necessary 501(c) 3 paperwork to obtaining the ability to purchase this old Kingdom Hall for a truer purpose, preaching the True Gospel, where I would get the financing for such an endeavor...etc....

And, as I've said before, I'm not seminary trained. "Street" preaching is all I know how to do, and even then there is a substantial amount of time I have to put into each sermon I preached at the Chapel....

George, author of the Worthy News devotional I get, highlighted this verse today. Interesting enough, as I asked my brethren at Out of the Wild some wisdom and discernment regarding planting a church. He points out that the Hebrew word for "understanding", "bee-nah", has a root which also means discernment, wisdom, perception and knowledge. Understanding the culture of the times around them, these children of Issachar stood upon what God would have the nation, not just their tribe, to do.

Issachar was the ninth son of Jacob (Israel) and the fifth son borne of Leah, Jacob's first wife. Issachar was spoken of by Jacob as, "a strong ass couching down between two burdens: He saw the rest was good, and that the land was pleasant; He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves." (Genesis 49:14-15).

"Many are the pleasures of a country life, abundantly sufficient to balance the inconveniences of it," Henry continues, "if we can but persuade ourselves to think so, Issachar, in prospect of advantage, bowed his shoulders to bear: let us, with an eye of faith, see the heavenly rest to be good, and that land of promise to be pleasant; and this will make our present services easy, and encourage us to bow our shoulder to them."

If we can 'reach' this understanding of Issachar, that our toils can be pleasant when we are suitably adapted to them (i.e. God's purpose for each of us; individually for the 'corporate' good) because we can find the contentment, peace, and understanding of our tasks and make them appropriately easy to perform and achieve satisfaction with.

We shouldn't be afraid to bow our shoulders to the labor.

Rather than adapt the message to fit the culture, we should stand firm upon the understanding of the effects of culture upon the message. And strive to remain clear and concise in our understanding that the Gospel is above all cultural influences, as is the nature of Absolute Truth, and therefore realize the struggle is to walk in a culture increasingly against Christianity.

Aaron Putney, a missionary to the Philippine Islands, mentioned the character of the sons of Issachar in one of his post; Issachar and the Call to Biblical Fatherhood on his blog, Looking Unto Jesus;

"The children of Issachar were men that had not allowed them to be blinded and enthralled by the current trends and acceptable practices. They seem, according to this verse to have enough God-given wisdom to realize that where we have come is not necessarily the result of continuous improvement." Putney points out, "After all, isn't it evolution (which we vehemently and almost laughably refute for its ridiculous lies) that teaches that things are gradually getting better to the opposition of the 2nd law of thermodynamics - that everything is wearing down... They saw the impact of the influences around them, they understood what was happening from history, they used thought and discernment for each and every decision and they knew what they ought to do."

In the last 150 years, industrialism, transportation, communication, and the media have changed and developed well beyond the means of most to understand or control. In the interest of making things easier, they have had a profound opposite effect, where things are more difficult than they once were….less simple. Today's society is more of an image driven one, and the effectiveness of the written word no longer has dominance. Biblical roles for men and women, children and families are no longer as solidified as they once were. The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many. Humanism, atheism, materialism, and commercialism are the new catch-phrases of the day.

As Putney states, "We can be the Issachars of today if we would only step back and understand the times. If we could see where today's influences have already taken us and where they will lead if we continue to follow in them."

By standing against the lost reverence of God and Jesus Christ, wrought through a cultural and societal influence of busyness, attacks upon the authority and accuracy of the Biblical text, perverted doctrines smacking of humanistic authority and power, and decline of the biblical roles, we can affect change….at least slowing the decay and gaining given ground in the battle for the souls of the lost.

"We know these influences won't go away around us until the judgment of God on this wicked land but we also have the command to know God's word," Putney concludes, "understand His desires in comparison with the times and know what we ought to do..."

The history of the world is known and the authenticity of the Biblical text has been proven time and time again. We will be held accountable for standing by and allowing this regression to the times of Babel to be reborn. It should be the desire of the brethren to understand the times of which we live, seeking understanding of God's word and through the grace of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob do what is most glorifying to Christ no matter what the cultural dictates.

"Lord as I go forth in this new day you have given me whether I face trials, temptation or blessings I will say, "The LORD God will help me." I will Go forth boldly and set my face like a flint and resolve that no faintness or shamefacedness shall come near me. If God helps, who can hinder? I am sure of your omnipotent aid, so what can be too heavy for me to bear? I Begin this day joyously, and will let no shade of doubt come between thee and the eternal sunshine you shed on me each and everyday." (Charles Spurgeon).

"Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks." Phil. 4:6 (GWT)

We live in a day and an age in which discernment is a sorely needed gift in the body of Christ– and praise God; it's a gift which is freely given by the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the enemy of our souls is cunning and subtle, and a major sign of the times is the proliferation of "seducing spirits" and "doctrines of devils."

"If you are sensing that God seems far away, spend some time in prayer asking Him to show you if there is any lukewarmness in your attitude. We need to remember He hasn’t moved away from us," Carolyn Baker writes in her devotional a few days ago, "we’re the ones who move away. His consuming fire is not to be feared - in His timing and in His power and strength, He will have His way! Thank him for that promise!"

Whether I stand in front of a new church, I will always seek to stand outside the influences of the culture and soak in the influence of the Holy Spirit, guided by the hand of Christ, to bring glory to the Father.

In all I do……

Check out this link by Fernando Ortega/ Lord, I Want To Be Like Jesus In My Heart:

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