“STAFF”

Imagine a church staff where each person’s primary vision is to attain Christlikeness. Picture working with this group of people: not only do they each fulfill their responsibilities, but they are also earnestly walking in both Christ’s humility and His redemptive view of life. Add to these virtues that they are committed to unoffendable unity in their relationships. Is there any doubt that with such a team God could change the world?

Before you say the above is impossible, I’m actually describing my staff. While none of us is perfect, and we still have to match individual gifts correctly with ministry needs, the compelling vision for each person is to become Christlike.

It wasn’t always this way. We have had our share of misunderstandings and immaturity. We even suffered a couple times from “staff infection.” Over the decades, however, we have learned some things that are invaluable in creating both vision and right attitudes.

In Ancient Times

According to the dictionary, a staff is “a group of assistants to a manager, executive, or other person in authority” (The American Heritage® Dictionary). However, originally a staff was not a team of people but a strong, straight branch that was cut from a tree and sanded smooth. Upon this staff a traveler would lean as he walked. The purpose of the staff was for support, balance and also used as a weapon to protect the traveler. From this insight, perhaps we can better understand the genesis of the word staff and how a spiritual staff can provide strength, balance and protection for a leader.

Of course, when we talk about leader/staff relationships, the leader must first be passionate about personal conformity to Christ. Obviously, the leader will not be perfect, but he or she should be sincerely reaching for Christlikeness. A leader, by definition, is someone whom others follow. The more clearly leaders demonstrate that their life goal is conformity to Jesus, the more they will inspire their staff to follow them.

Amazing Power in a Godly Staff

Yet, there is further insight into the power of a Christlike staff. Remember when the Almighty appeared to Moses in the burning bush? The Lord told Moses to cast his staff to the ground. Immediately, the staff turned into a dangerous snake from which Moses fled. Rather than being the leader’s protector, it had become his enemy. My first point is this: If a staff has not been touched by God to serve a particular leader – if it still harbors jealousy and selfish ambition (James 3:16) – then it has the capacity to suddenly turn into a serpent.

In the above story, however, the Lord told Moses to pick up the serpent, and as he did it returned again to being a staff. When we lay our staff at the feet of God, that staff will be different when the Lord tells us to lift it again. When God gives you the staff He has chosen, there will be supernatural power accompanying it. In fact, listen to what the Lord said to Moses: “You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs” (Exod. 4:17).

The Holy Spirit placed an anointing upon Moses’ staff and with the staff he worked miracles. Repeatedly we see in the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt that it wasn’t Moses alone that released miracles; the signs and wonders came through his staff. Moses pointed the staff, struck the waters with the staff, and waved it up at the sky; the staff was the instrument through which divine power manifest!

Not only that, but from that point on Moses’ staff was called by an additional name. It was now called the “staff of God” (Exod. 4:20; 17:9).

Oh, I pray this is a revelation to your heart! It is not enough for a man or woman of God to be anointed – their staff must become the staff of God. And there is no greater means to fulfilling the purpose of God than when a leader and staff all choose to pursue conformity to Christ.

It is time to focus upon the high calling of God for our churches, which is nothing less than “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15). Regardless of how successful your ministry has been in the past, imagine the success that awaits you with a staff united in their pursuit of Christ’s likeness: the staff of God!

Let’s lead the body of Christ to be the BRIDE Jesus is coming back for.

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I’ve been divorced four times and gay marriage is ruining traditional marriage… (re-post) PLREASE READ

I’ve been divorced four times, but homosexuals are the ones destroying marriage

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Last night, someone emailed and asked me to write about the gay marriage case in Virginia. This morning, a woman from Wisconsin asked if I would blog about the gay marriage case in her state. A few readers in Utah have also requested that I chime in on the gay marriage fight there.

And so I was going to do just that. I sat down to type a scathing rant about gay marriage. I sat down to tell the world that gay marriage is the greatest threat to the sanctity of marriage.

But then I remembered this:

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That’s a sign I saw on the side of the road a little while back. Divorce for sale! Only 129 dollars! Get ‘em while they’re hot!

And then I remembered an article I read last week about the new phenomenon of “divorce parties.” Divorced is the new single, the divorce party planner tells us.

And then I remembered another article claiming that the divorce rate is climbing because the economy is recovering. Now that things are getting a little better, we can finally splurge on that divorce we’ve always wanted!

And then I remembered that – ebbs and flows notwithstanding – there is one divorce every 13 seconds, or over 46,000 divorces a week in this country. And then I remembered that, although the “50 percent of marriages end in divorce” statistic can be misleading, we’re still in a situation where there are half as many divorces as there are marriages in a single year.

And then I remembered no-fault divorce. I remembered that marriage is the ONLY LEGAL CONTRACT A PERSON CAN BREAK WITHOUT THE OTHER PARTY’S CONSENT AND WITHOUT FACING ANY LEGAL REPERCUSSIONS.

Sorry to scream at you.

But I remembered that marriage has for decades been, from a legal perspective, the least meaningful, least stable, and least protected contract in existence, and I think this fact should be emphasized.

And then I remembered how many Christian churches gave up on marriage long ago, allowing their flock to divorce and remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce and remarry, and each time permitting the charade of “vows” to take place on their altars. And then I remembered that churches CAN lower the divorce rate simply by taking a consistent position on it — which is why practicing Catholics are significantly less likely to break up — but many refuse because they are cowards begging for the world’s approval.

And then I remembered that over 40 percent of America’s children are growing up without a father in the home. And then I remembered that close to half of all children will witness the breakdown of their parent’s marriage. Half of that half will also have the pleasure of watching a second marriage fall apart.

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And then I remembered that more and more young people are opting out of marriage because the previous generation was so bad at it that they’ve scared their kids away from the institution entirely.

I remembered all of these things, and I decided to instead write about the most urgent threat to the sanctity of marriage.

Divorce.

Divorces are as common as flat tires, and they often happen for reasons nearly as frivolous.

The institution of marriage is crumbling beneath us; it’s under attack, it’s mortally wounded, it’s sprawled out on the pavement with bullet wounds in its back, coughing up blood and gasping for breath. And guess who did this? It wasn’t Perez Hilton or Elton John, I can tell you that.

This is the work of divorce.

I am an opponent of gay marriage, but we here in the “sanctity of marriage” camp are tragically too afraid to approach the thing that is destroying marriage faster than anything else ever could. Gay marriage removes from marriage its procreative characteristic, but rampant divorce takes away its permanent characteristic. It makes no sense to concentrate all of our energy on the former while all but ignoring the latter.

To make matters worse, some of the loudest mouth pieces for “traditional marriage” in media and politics are bigamists, adulterers, and men with two, three, or four ex-wives. It’s not that you can’t defend the sanctity of marriage when you have been divorced multiple times, it’s just that you have zero credibility on the subject.

If you beat and abuse your children so badly that they have to be removed from you, you could, I suppose, still complain if you found out that your kids are also being mistreated in their foster home. But your anger must first be directed at yourself, because it is YOUR FAULT that they are suffering in this way.

So whose fault is it that the institution of marriage is beaten and broken? I don’t think we want to contemplate that question, for fear that we might see ourselves in the answer.

Should laws be written to “defend marriage”? Sure, and let’s start with legislation to make divorces at least somewhat harder to obtain than a magazine subscription. How serious are we about this? Anyone up for a law to criminalize adultery? What about putting some restrictions on re-marriage?

There are certainly times when a couple has no choice but to go their separate ways. What else can you do in cases of serial abuse or serial adultery, or when one party simply abandons the other? But infidelity and abuse do not explain the majority of divorces in this country, and they are not the leading causes of break-ups. According to these “experts,” the top causes of divorce are a lack of individual identity, “getting into it for the wrong reasons,” and “becoming lost in the roles.” A survey done by the National Fatherhood Institute found lack of communication, and finances to be the leading culprits. An article in The Examiner also cites finances as the most potent divorce-fuel.

In other words, these days marriages can be blown apart by the slightest gust of wind, coming from any direction, and for any reason. Noticeably absent from all of these polls about the reasons for divorce: gay marriage.

That’s because gay marriage is not the biggest threat to marriage.

We are.

We are, when we vow on our very souls to stand by someone for the rest of our lives, until death do us part, only to let financial troubles and communication difficulties dissolve that union we forged before God. We are, when we forget about those Biblical readings we picked out for our wedding service:

My lover belongs to me and I to him. He says to me: “Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm; For stern as death is love, relentless as the nether world is devotion; its flames are a blazing fire. Deep waters cannot quench love, nor floods sweep it away.”

For stern as death is love.

When we marry, we die. Our old selves die, and we are born anew into each other; into the unbreakable marital bond.

We are a threat to the sanctity of marriage when we let our selfishness fool us into thinking that our wedding vows weren’t that serious.

Indeed, despite popular sentiment, they were serious. They are serious. They’re as serious as death.

The struggle to protect marriage is also serious. It’s an important battle.

So maybe it’s time we actually start fighting it.

*NOTE. To answer your questions: no, I have not actually been divorced four times. I’ve been married once, and I’m still married to her, and I’ll never be married to anyone else. The title was tongue-in-cheek. I was writing it from the perspective of the sorts of people who rant about the sanctity of marriage, yet have racked up multiple ex-spouses. Perhaps I should have been more clear about this. In any case, there it is. I appreciate your concern.

Mark 3;13-33 — I know I know it’s about time

13 Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. 14 Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles.[b] They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, 15 giving them authority to cast out demons. 16 These are the twelve he chose:

Simon (whom he named Peter), 17 James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”[c]), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot[d]), 19 Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).

20 One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.

At this point Jesus had personally hand picked his disciples and it was on!!! They are seeing things never couldn’t even imagine…it must have been AWESOMSE to see this taking place. They got so wrapped up in what was taking place that they didn’t even have time to eat….notice it says “when his family…..” even those closest to us if they don’t “get it” will think we are nuts for the things we do for Jesus!! They said he is out of his mind….crazy!!!! So, do what He ask of you….Go where He asked you to go…..Give what He ask you to give …IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT OTHERS SAY or HOW MUCH THEY MAKE FUN OF YOU…MOCK YOU…. just do it, step out to the unknown!!!

22 But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan,[e] the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”

23 Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. 24 “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. 25 Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. 27 Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

28 “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, 29 but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” 30 He told them this because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.”

This scripture here is probably one of the most asked about scriptures in the entire Bible “What sin cannot be forgiven?” Well let me try to give you a very simple answer to this question:

blas·phe·my

/ˈblæsmi/ Show Spelled [blas-fuh-mee] Show IPA

noun, plural blas·phe·mies.

1 impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.
2. Judaism.

a. an act of cursing or reviling God.
b. pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) in the original, now forbidden manner instead of using a substitute pronunciation such as Adonai.
3. Theology . the crime of assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of God.
4. irreverent behavior toward anything held sacred, priceless, etc.: He uttered blasphemies against life itself.
Bottom line calling what is “of God” not of God or evil…..We must be very careful when we judge another ministry, prayer, theology, teaching, preaching etc….unless it is against Scripture we better watch what we say. For instance there is a popular TV Preacher Benny Hinn — some love him and some hate him in the Christian world. I remember sitting with a table full of pastor’s at a lunch one day and they all started mocking him, making fun of him, acting like they were speaking in tongues, mocking it….it made me sick to my stomach to witness this and the only thing I could think of was this Scripture – who are we to say what is of God or not of God because of our beliefs?
I’ve done this myself and most of the time it would be because of my lack of knowledge or understanding. Today I love and live by this rule in my life….1. Go to the Scriptures and check out the teaching. 2. Go to the Holy Spirit and ask for guidance. 3. Refrain from speaking evil about any man unless they are leading people away from the truth. There is a fine line here in all of this…..wolves in sheep clothing!!! There are many out there leading people to hell, I think some do not even realize it but the enemy does!!!
Be very careful in this. Now is there a sin that can’t be forgiven? NO…. if you blaspheme the Holy Spirit and repent, ask for forgiveness and make it right you will be forgiven….but you cannot live this life of speaking evil of what God is doing and stand before Him in the end.  Hope this makes sense….

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. 32 There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers[f] are outside asking for you.”

33 Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 34 Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

When it comes to the Word and ministry of God, family is NOT more important…. GOD IS — GOD FIRST!!! FAMILY second…… not trying to sound harsh or mean, there is a perfect balance but if God gives you an assignment do not allow anything to get in your way. Now there is balance, and LOVE involved, we are NOT Jesus we did not come to save the world or die for the world…. 🙂

I made many mistakes while in ministry when it comes to this…..but looking back it was mostly all FLESH rather than the Spirit when it came to “doing His Work” — KNOW HIM, LIVE IN HIM, LIVE IN HUMILITY, LIVE PURE and OPEN LIVES. YOU CAN’T LOSE!!!!!

Disunity — how does it affect you?

How Does Disunity Affect You?

When Nehemiah, living among the Jewish exiles, heard of the condition of Jerusalem and its temple, he “sat down and wept and mourned for days.” The fallen condition of the temple thrust him into an extended position of “fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Neh. 1:4). The modern Jews also weep as they face the Wailing Wall, lamenting over the ruins of their temple. Paul mourned when he saw the ruined condition in Corinth. He said, “For I am afraid … that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned” (2 Cor. 12:20–21). Jesus Himself wept over the divisions of Jerusalem, lamenting, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37).

This mourning concerning the disunified condition of the Father’s house ought to be in our hearts as well. Yet, for most of us, not only have we failed to mourn our situation, but also we have not even grasped that our disunity, jealousy and strife are a fallen state! How far we have fallen, and how little we know it!

While the redemption of man was always motivating Jesus, remember, His most ardent desire was His zeal for His Father’s house; He was consumed with it (John 2:17). Building the house of God – the born-again, praying, loving, citywide church – is still Christ’s highest priority. The world is His harvest; the church is His bride. His love for the church was the basis of His last recorded prayer: that we would be one. It is still His highest passion today. For until we are united in Him and one with one another, our testimony lacks credibility. The world will not believe that God has sent Christ if our lives are splintered with the same divisions that infect the world (John 17:20–23).

Worth reading and responding to…

I appreciate and defend the origins of our many denominations. Most were born as godly men who fought against the sin and spiritual apostasy of their times. Their heroic stand preserved (or in some cases, restored) the truth of God in an otherwise dark world. From my heart, I thank God for our denominational heritage.

Today, however, the need to remain divided from other evangelical congregations is unjustified. We can remain unique congregations with unique callings and a unique spiritual heritage, yet we can be united spiritually, and even functionally, with other assemblies in our communities.

Knowing Christ has called for unity in His church, many leaders today are reexamining the legitimacy of division in the church. Today’s heroes are not isolating themselves from other congregations; rather, they are working with others to repair the breaches, seeking to build the citywide church on the foundation of Christ alone.

Yet our traditions of division have taken on the garments of orthodoxy; they appear biblical, but they are not. The various divisions in the history of the church were stages in restoration meant to preserve truth, not isolate it.

Is Christ Divided?

Every true Christian believes the Bible is God’s sacred, eternal Word. Indeed, Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s Word will endure forever. What was relative and powerful in the first century ought to be just as powerful today. Listen, therefore, to what Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth:

“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided?” —1 Corinthians. 1:10-13

How strange that we smugly look upon the divisions in the Corinthian church. We boldly criticize their carnality. But why was it wrong in the first century to say, “I am of Paul (or Apollos),” but permissible in these last days to say, “I am of Luther … or Wesley … or the Baptists … or the Pentecostals”?

Again, please remember, I am not suggesting we should end our denominational affiliations, nor should we strive for unity with churches that do not believe in Christ, God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, the virgin birth, or the Second Coming. However, I am saying that, within the sphere of the local, born-again church of Jesus Christ, divisions are unbiblical and wrong.

Paul continued his rebuke to the Corinthians: “For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:3).

The credibility of the church is that we are not “mere men,” creatures born of the flesh without spiritual vision or destiny. We have been born again of one Spirit from above. Within our spirits is the actual spiritual substance of Christ Himself!

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” —1 Corinthians 3:16

We are the temple of God. Our churches, like the stones of the temple, are to be laid side by side, building us together “into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22).

Paul went on to issue a warning that every Christian should heed. He said,

“If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy.” —1 Corinthians 3:17

We have attempted to use this verse to condemn such things as cigarette smoking and sexual vices, and on an individual basis, there are obvious consequences to these sins. However, Paul is speaking here of more than the sins of excess and immoral pleasure. The apostle is warning against allowing division in the temple of God, the church. He says, “If any man destroys the temple of God [through jealousy and strife], God will destroy him.” The context is plainly speaking in regard to divisions in the church!

When pure Christianity degenerates into divided camps of ambitious people, it literally destroys the harmony, power and blessing of the “temple of God.” The individual who brings or supports such carnal divisions in the church has positioned himself in a very dangerous place before God. The temple of God is holy. Our unity together is holy. Our love for one another is holy, for the Father Himself dwells in the resting place of caring attitudes and loving relationships. Collectively, we are the dwelling place of God on earth.

The warning is severe: “If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him.”

Yes, there are times when church leaders sin and confusion enters the dynamics of church life. So, let’s make room for failings and transitions. But let us not lose sight of the fact that the living God is a God of order; He will not dwell in ruins! Because He is a God of love, He will work with us to rebuild, but He will not sanction our fallen condition with power. He will not lend His credibility to our disorder.

How Does Disunity Affect You?

When Nehemiah, living among the Jewish exiles, heard of the condition of Jerusalem and its temple, he “sat down and wept and mourned for days.” The fallen condition of the temple thrust him into an extended position of “fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Neh. 1:4). The modern Jews also weep as they face the Wailing Wall, lamenting over the ruins of their temple. Paul mourned when he saw the ruined condition in Corinth. He said, “For I am afraid … that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned” (2 Cor. 12:20–21). Jesus Himself wept over the divisions of Jerusalem, lamenting, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37).

This mourning concerning the disunified condition of the Father’s house ought to be in our hearts as well. Yet, for most of us, not only have we failed to mourn our situation, but also we have not even grasped that our disunity, jealousy and strife are a fallen state! How far we have fallen, and how little we know it!

While the redemption of man was always motivating Jesus, remember, His most ardent desire was His zeal for His Father’s house; He was consumed with it (John 2:17). Building the house of God – the born-again, praying, loving, citywide church – is still Christ’s highest priority. The world is His harvest; the church is His bride. His love for the church was the basis of His last recorded prayer: that we would be one. It is still His highest passion today. For until we are united in Him and one with one another, our testimony lacks credibility. The world will not believe that God has sent Christ if our lives are splintered with the same divisions that infect the world (John 17:20–23).

Privileged to Become Christlike

There were many reasons why Jerusalem fell to Babylon during Jeremiah’s day, but underlying them all was the spiritual apostasy of the religious leaders. God Himself would have defended a humble, praying city, but in Jerusalem the spiritual leaders were corrupt. Listen, therefore, to Jeremiah’s fearful revelation: “The adversary and the enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem” because of “the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests” (Lam. 4:12–13).

Do we see this? Israel’s enemies entered Jerusalem because the spiritual leaders were unrepentantly full of sin. Oh God, help us to see and accept that the future of our cities exists in the corporate relationship the spiritual leaders have with You and one another. Jesus said that any city, any house “divided against itself” cannot stand (Matt. 12:25). The place of spiritual protection of a community has its origins in the quality of life that exists in the spiritual leadership of that community: a vibrant, praying, united body of believers will move that city toward the blessing of God; a divided, sinful leadership will allow the adversary to enter the city’s gates.

The path narrows for leadership until our only choice is to become Christlike in everything. However, Christlike leadership in the church can transform the world around it! You see, our cities are in disorder because our congregations are in disorder. James tells us that where there is jealousy and strife, “there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16).

Our selfish ambitions have taken our eyes off the will and purposes of God for our cities. We have become jealous of one another. Consequently, the “disorder,” lawlessness and “every evil thing” we see in our society are, at least in part, rooted in the soil of a misdirected and distracted church community.

Because of this, the church has lost a measure of its credibility. How can we expect the world to hear our message of love when we, as Christ’s body, fail to love each other? We have no right to condemn the world for its pride and arrogance when we, the body of Christ, still refuse to humble ourselves and work with the other congregations in our neighborhoods.

Beloved, over the years the world has seen many incredible ministries. However, the time of the “incredible” has passed; the hour for the credible is being established.