Personal Mission Statement

As a pastor and an individual, I am all about self and community empowerment. In the more recent history, I’ve been learning that just knowing scripture isn’t enough to accomplish purpose. I know for some that is a terrible thing to say. Life is full of more than just what we read in the scriptures, but all of those are enhanced and grounded through and by scripture.  I learned one thing from studying and analyzing successful businesses: They have a mission statement that everyone knows and can carry out. This means that everyone in the business from the janitors to the CEO knows that the success or failure of that company rests in how internalized the mission statement is.

When I started my doctoral coursework earlier this year, one of the first things we had to do was write a personal and professional mission statement. Some think this should be a breeze for a pastor,  but I found it a difficult task. I spent time in prayer, meditation and reflection and an acronymn coined by my college BSU director came to my mind..my mission statement is to be R.E.A.L.

My mission is to be Relational, Encouraging, Authentic, and Loving. That sums up the entirety of my ministry and my professional career desires. I realize that is what every individual desires from themselves, God, and others. I’m so sold on this that I’ve even included it in the vision statement for the church I pastor.

Being REAL is a lofty mission goal with the added expense of death to selfish service and disenchanted destinies. If we earnestly desire our father’s goodness to mercifully accept us as we are, then we will do our best to present ourselves REAL to him and others we encounter throughout our life’s journey.

After May 21, then what?

If you have not heard or seen yet, Harold Camping, founder of Family Radio has been promoting may 21, 2011 as God’s Day of Judgment when the true Christian believers will be raptured away and the wrath of the Lord’s tribulation period will begin ultimately culminating in the Earth’s destruction by fire on October 21, 2011. To many this is a sure event; one that will usher in the glory of Christ’s New Millennium  kingdom. For others, it is nothing more than a sincere but fanatical preacher ignoring the fallacies and failures of past end time prediction prophets. Camping has managed to incite the hopes and fears of sincere yet Biblically ignorant people to the point of  extreme excesses such as quitting jobs, leaving families, and criss-crossing the  country spreading the word of Earth’s last day. Where does Camping’s prediction  rank amidst the more recognized and well received predictions of the ancient Mayans, Nostradamus and other cultures regarding December, 21 2012 as Earth’s last days? Another more pressing question for me is “How will this prediction, if proven false, affect the Christian view of end times and the authority and authenticity of the Christian faith and Gospel message?

Camping, 89, said of the rapture in a May 11 interview with New York magazine, “The Bible has every word in the original language – it was written by God. Incidentally, no churches believe that at all, they don’t hold the Bible in the high respect that it ought to  be.” He went on to say, “When we get to May 21 on the calendar in any city or country in the world, and the clock says about – this is based on other verses in the Bible –  when the clock says about 6 p.m., there’s going to be this tremendous earthquake that’s going to make the last earthquake in Japan seem like nothing in comparison. And the whole world will be alerted that Judgment Day has begun.” This of course implies that only those who are in the know regarding his calculated and articulated view or  revelation of this significant event are eligible for salvation, rapture, or whatever you want to call it.

There is no shortage of rebuttals to Camping’s claims with and without scriptural support. Tim LaHaye, author of the popular “Left Behind” book series recently on his website wrote a letter to the public advising them not to buy into Harold Camping’s prediction that May 21 is the beginning of the end of the world. He remarked that it “is not only wrong but dangerous.” He also said the claim that God will destroy the world on October 21 “is not only bizarre but 100% wrong!”

According to Jason Boyett, Christian author of Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse and speaker on End Times, writing in the Washington Posts’ On Faith Page, “Camping’s faith will survive the impending disappointment, as will his ministry and radio empire. He’ll make excuses and set another date. I don’t worry about him; I worry about his
followers and their families.”

There are some within Camping’s own organization, Family Radio, who have not succumbed to the irrationality of his prediction. Many like Anthony Hernandez, a frequent speaker on Camping’s Family Radio, are acknowledging the fears, doubts, and concerns of their families and friends but still clinging to the assurance that the event will happen just as Camping predicted. What Hernandez and others are experiencing is what social psychologists call cognitive disequilibrium/cognitive dissonance: when experiences clash with expectations. A relevant example of this is found in the book When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter. The authors infiltrated a group that was expecting the imminent end of the world on a certain date. When that prediction failed, the movement did not disintegrate, but grew instead. By sharing cult beliefs with others, they gained acceptance and thus reduced their own dissonance.

This is clearly what may happen after May 21 comes and goes. It is sure to put the  eschatological aspect of the Christian faith to the back of the average church goers mind. It may contribute to an already decline in attendance and financial contributions for mainline and evangelical Christian churches. I only hope that does not delineate the authentic Gospel message to continue to be preached and heard by all persons and nations. As Christ himself said “Let him who has ears to hear, hear.”

Bin Laden’s Dead:Now What?

Millions of Americans watched Sunday night as President Obama addressed the nation with the news that Usama Bin Laden, the master mind of terror attacks around the world was killed during a US Special Forces covert operation at his million dollar compound in Pakistan. First, credit and congratulations are in order for President Obama’s decision as Commander in Chief, the military and CIA Intelligence leaders who spent months planning the operation. This is truly the epitome of the mourning, unity, and action following the terrorist acts of September 11, 2oo1. How Bin Laden evaded capture as long as he did while living in open secrecy for the past six years is a question that has many pundits, politiicians, and people wondering and waiting for more answers. While President George W. Bush began the action, President Obama has brought it to a close.

The question still remains-Now What?

We have been witness to civil unrest throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world for the past four months. We have watched as presumably horrible regimes have been outsted (with the exception of Libya’s Qaddafi). We are seeing countries such as Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain’s leaders recoup with violence on their own people. We are increased tension between Israel and Palestine. All of this unrest in the Middle East is pointing towards something that we must all be cognizant of. That something could be the end of the world as we know it.

The End or the Beginning?

We are witnessing a global crisis that has not been experienced since the beginning of the Second World War. Those familiar with history know that at the end of both World Wars, there was the establishment of a global united government movement. Post WWI was the League of Nations championed by President Woodrow Wilson. Post WWII was the establishment of the United Nations championed by President Franklin D Roosevelt. Neither of those men lived to see either organization to its full fruition, but the seeds they planted have deep roots in the world’s governance, military, economy, and diplomacy today. I am of the belief that in the upcoming future, we will see an even greater world government come into power that will exceed the expectations of both of its forerunners. This united world government will be something that most will rejoice to see, but could also lead to the decimation of the sovereignty of nations as we know it. It would literally be the end of the world as we know it.

How then should we prepare for this? Scripture shares much of what should be expected in the last days. Paul, addressing first century believers about the imminent return of Christ writes: “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5: 1-5) [NKJV] It is clear that he as others expected universal turmoil as a sign of preparation for Christ’s return. It is no different for believers today. We are witnessing a great shifting in the world-economically, governmentally, militarily, and in many other ways. We should be preparing to hear the words of peace that will beckon all to celebrate. It is when we hear these words or discern these signs that we should know that the time is drawing near and that Christ’s return is at hand.

Two millenia have passed since the world last saw the remnants of Christ’s promised return. The words of Jesus entreating his disciples of the last days are even more pertinent to those of us who are believers today: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into”. (Matthew 24:42-43) [NKJV]

Seminary/Grad School of the Week

Biola University/Talbot School of Theology

13800 Biola Ave.La Mirada, CA9063

1-562-903-6000     www.talbot.edu

Dr. Dennis R Dirks, Dean

Mission

The Mission of Talbot School of Theology is the development of disciples of Jesus Christ whose thought processes, character and lifestyles reflect those of our Lord, and who are dedicated to disciple making throughout the world

Talbot School of Theology is a theologically conservative, evangelical seminary in Southern California near Los Angeles. With almost a 60-year heritage of biblical fidelity, the seminary couples solid evangelical scholarship with intentional character development to prepare students for a lifetime of relevant, effective ministry. The seminary’s six master’s degree programs and three doctoral degree programs are led by a faculty of nationally renowned, widely-published and actively engaged ministry leaders.

Biola University was founded on February 25, 1908 by the Rev. T.C. Horton and Lyman Stewart, founder of Union Oil Company, the non-denominational school offered degrees in Bible training, hosted the nation’s largest Christian magazine, The King’s Business, and aired the first Christian radio program west of the Mississippi, which later became known as The Biola Hour. Enrollment grew rapidly under the direction of Biola’s first dean, R.A. Torrey (1911–1925). Talbot was founded in 1952 by Dr. Louis T Talbot during his last year as President of Biola University as a three year accredited seminary to combat liberal Christian teachings that had plagued the church.

Talbot School of Theology is located in La Mirada, California, a Los Angeles County suburb ranked by Money Magazine as one of America’s 100 best places to live. Situated on the border of Los Angeles and Orange counties, the seminary is a matter of minutes from all that Southern California has to offer — including beaches, entertainment venues, cultural attractions and a wealth of diverse ministry opportunities.

Student Profile
1,235 total students

57% Caucasian
25% Asian
4% Hispanic
4% African-American
10% International

71% Male
29% Female

Faculty: 96% of full-time have doctorates

Campus: 96 acres, located in Southern California, approximately 20 miles from Los Angeles

Library Holding: Over 300,000 titles

Seminary/Grad School of the Week

Moody Bible Institute-Celebrating 125 years of Excellence in Christian Education

Moody Bible Institute-Dr. Paul Nyquist, President
820 N. LaSalle Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60610

www.moody.edu (800) DL-Moody (800-356-6639)

 

Since its founding in 1886 as the Chicago Evangelization Society, by Christian Evangelist and Revivalist Dwight Lyman Moody and Emma Dryer, Moody Bible Institute’s Bible-based education combined with real ministry experience has prepared thousands of students for Christian service. Moody’s education legacy is rich with graduates boldly reaching the world for Christ, paving the way for future generations to do the same.

Moody offers certificates, undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Biblical Studies, Christian Education, and Ministry. The main campus is located in Chicago, IL but it has sattelite campuses in Spokane, WA and Plymouth, MI. Students can also complete courses online or through modular sessions in designated areas.

MBI has been vigilant to maintain integrity within our walls and guard against potential outside threats. The school has a legacy of being held accountable to the standards of the Word by the people of the church. Academically, Moody is accredited by highly trusted agencies. Professionally, every branch of ministry is affiliated with the most revered associations in their respective industries.

Sometimes Even Good Sacrifices Don’t Matter

I Sam 15:22 “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.”

While pondering over the scriptures detailing the downfall of King Saul in I Samuel 13-15, I begin to ask myself which is harder-sacrificing for self accomplishment, or sacrificing for obedience to God? To many, the obvious answer would be the latter. Surely any person would choose to sacrifice in obedience to God than selfish accomplishment. Unfortunately, for many believers, including me, this is not the accurate truth.

There are millions of Christian believers who regularly sacrifice in obedience to God. The Lenten season is a great example of this because millions are turning away the table, bad habits, bad relationships and just about any other thing that we believe will help us be more spiritual and have a closer relationship with the Father. Yet in a sense are we actually doing this to for selfish accomplishment or spiritual obedience. Samuel makes this statement to Saul in The question then becomes “what does obeying the voice of the Lord actually mean?

In a literal sense, the passage can be transliterated this way: “Does God value an offering or sacrifice going up to Him as much as the continual attentively listening to the loudness of God’s voice? Indeed to have heard for certain is bountiful/beautiful than the slaughter of sacrifices. At first this doesn’t seem difficult at all, but it truly is. The whole dilemma with Saul was created because of his impatience to wait on the voice of God through Samuel the Prophet. As a result, two occasions proclaim his eventual dismissal as king. Both announcements came as a result of Saul’s disobedience.

The troubling part of this story is that in both cases, Saul did not realize or failed to fully comprehend his disobedience. He blamed both reactions to the desires of the people over his authority as king. If we were truly honest with ourselves, we too would realize that much of the results of sin that we have attributed to someone else are actually the results of our own inability or lack of discipline to operate in our God-given authority. This will eventually lead to a dismissal of some kind be it the loss of position, the dispositions of bad relationships, financial hardships, or God forbid, a loss of communion with Him.

How can we be empowered to better hear the voice of God and fully carry out his commands for us today? This requires consistent fellowship with Him. We must engage God daily so that we may be empowered to carry out his expectations in the earth. Revelation 3:20 says: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any person hears my voice and opens, I will come in and dine with him and him with me.” When we engage God and his word, it reveals the very things that cause us to be self accomplishing sacrifices. It reveals the hidden sins that we all commit. It opens us to the correction of a Loving Heavenly Father who bids only that we come to him; all who are weary and heavy laden and he will give us rest.

We do not have to be as Saul was. There will be times when our patience with God’s promises will be tested and our desire to achieve a sense of spiritual accomplishment will push us towards disobedience. It is then that we must do as the hymn writer admonishes: “Ask the savior to help you; comfort, strengthen and keep you. He is willing to aid you. He will carry you through.”

Starting All Over

It has been some time since I last wrote on this blog. As a matter of fact, I had all but forgotten about it because I’ve been all over this cyber world writing and posting articles here, there, and everywhere. Now that I’m back, I’m making it my goal to keep this page well updated and furnished. I’ve got more than enough content to make that happen so now it is simply putting forth the effort to do it regularly and thanks to my great doctor and Adderall, that should be a walk in the park now! LOL! So be looking for more from me and everyone be blessed!

THREE WAYS TO SELF PROMOTION

I’ve been watching a lot of young preachers on television and on the internet via youtube, myspace, etc. and have become a bit discouraged and upset. I will be the first to admit that I am somewhat of an ambitious preacher. I would love to have a large media ministry that is doing well. I would love to have my photo done professionally and placed on flyers as a featured speaker at a large conference. I would love to promote my church as one of the fastest growing in my denomination or city or state or country. I would love to flaunt my expensive appearance with matching outfits, nice SUVS or luxury vehicles. However after seeing all that alot of these young men an women do to get ahead, I realized that they all had three things in common:

Name Dropping, Extraordinary Reflections, and Uninhibited selling of their souls.

First, in order to make it big, you have to know somebody big. I think of my acquaintance with Smokie Norful. I’ve known Smokie since college and his father is my mentor. Im sure that if I were really ambitious, I could build on the fact that I know he and his father alone to selfishly promote my ministry. I’ve had the privilege of meeting several highly recognized ministry personalities personally on more than one occasion.  That’s how people who are looking to make it in Hollywood or the secular music industry get stuff done for them. They drop names of who they’ve worked with (no matter how good or bad) to advance their careers. Even while in graduate school, I learned that its to one’s advantage professionally to name the major professor you studied under. Name dropping really can help your case for promotion. It doesn’t matter if you are good, most people won’t really do background checks on their preachers. They go by the preacher’s word and that preacher’s word may be based on simply a name they dropped to get them where they wanted.

Next there is the all to well known reflecting. I use the word reflecting in the same sense that I use the word storytelling. Everyone has a story to tell and it isnt the story itself but how you tell the story that will make you or break you. For example, I share the story of my mother being killed when I was five years old. The story I share is consistent with the facts that have been shared with me from family and documents. I have no need to exaggerate because there really isn’t anything to exaggerate about. However, I could use that same story of how I survived as a victim of domestic violence and overcame the difficulties of post traumatic stress disorder to discover God in the midst of tragedy. That put a very different twist on my story. THere are many preachers with great stories of triumph, but there are even more with borrowed stories of triumph. One news reporter stated that when there is no new, simply make it up. You wouldn’t believe how many preachers borrow stories or simply make them up. The same borrow reflections or simply make them up. This is found heavily in the charismatic, word of faith, pentecostal type churches. When people are seeking for extra-biblical experiences to justify their religious experience, they will be sure to be duped by preachers claiming to have had them. There are just too many preachers who have duped people through false revelations and experiences and have profited from them. I pray I never get to that point, but I can tell you that I have sure been tempted to blow the trumpet of heaven, talk with angels and Jesus, raise dead to life. and a whole lot of stuff. I’ve also been tempted, no let me be honest, have borrowed the stories of others to make my life and my ministry seem more appealing. It wasn’t hard to do. All I simply had to do was tell a story. I didn’t have say whether it was personal or even true. I had the upper hand and knew that about 99% of the people listening to me were not going to take the time out to investigate anything that came out of my mouth! That in itself is a very scary thing to know.

Lastly, there are so many preachers who unashamedly and unabashedly promote themselves while selling their souls. They sell their souls to the very world that they have been called to preach against. Think about how many preachers are becoming mainstream and calling themselves life coaches. Let’s be honest, no one needs a life coach! We just need to repent of sin and then get into a productive and intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Self-promotion gets a person nowhere fast (at least with God). I watch television and get virtually sick to my stomach sometimes as I watch preachers shamelessly promote their latest book (which is nothing wrong if it is enabling Christians to become liberated, independent thinkers) or product.  I would think that as preachers, we would learn that Jesus nor any biblical apostle or messenger profited from their message (except the ones who did it for profit such as Balaam and other false prophets). I understand producing quality messages for the sick and shut, a shifting church membership and other things, but to do it just to be seen, Christ says that the people who do that already have their reward (see Matthew 6:1). It is a matter of praxis that God is concerned about. It’s not how you show it, but how God sees it.

I’m amazed that alot preachers forget that there were new testament sorcerors who attempted to duplicate the authentic working of the Holy Spirit. The people  were duped and in one instance practically controlled by these magnificent men who worked wonders (See Acts 8:9-11, 14-17). The thing was that this man Simon was a  believer and had been baptized, but was still trying to be a con man. He wanted the power to give the Holy Spirit like Peter and John, but was rebuked and told that his silver was perishing with him because he thought he could buy God’s gift of the Holy Spirit.  That same ambition is very much alive in today’s western church. I wouldn’t have believed it if I wasnt trying to do the same thing myself at one time. I discovered how easy it was to start a ministry, get a few supporters, do a few revivals, then start a church, then see all that fall apart because it wasn’t God ordained. It was a very hard pill to swallow. It’s one thing to manipulate people, but to sell your soul in hopes of manipulating God is a dangerous thing.  I used to think it funny when I would hear stories of people selling their souls to the devil for fame or fortune, but I have come to realize that far too many preachers are doing it at this very moment. They may not be signing their names on a contract, but they are truly parlaying in the fame and recognition given them by the very world they are supposed to reject.

So I believe I have laid it out there. If you want self promotion, just drop a few names, add a story or reflection (be sure to make it a good and believable one), and then shamelessly sell your soul to the cause of fame and fortune even if its in the name of GOD Himself and you will get exactly what’s coming to you.

My Take on My Discipleship

 

My Take on My Discipleship

 

 

 

Why is it that preachers have a hard time being disciples? During the Central Louisiana Conference Sunday School Convention, the pastors of the conference engaged in a study session on discipleship. One of the first things that came to my mind was the fact that I haven’t been the best disciple that I could be. As a matter of fact, I have all but denied Christ just as Peter did under scrutiny of the world. The interesting thing was listening to a very seasoned pastor state that he realized that his church would not grow until they became true disciples. He stated that for the past eight or nine months, he had been plagued with questions concerning the non-growth of the church and the decline in church membership. He said that after much prayer and time alone, he realized that he was not in Gods will and was not a true disciple of Christ, but was rather a determined disciple of the church, more specifically, he had been trained to not make disciples but to make members who could pay budget. He was grieved and publicly expressed that with his congregation. I was glad that he took the charge in admitting that he had a  zeal for God’s church, but not for God after righteousness.

It is here that I find myself. I have a zeal for God. I love Him and will serve Him til the day I die, but honestly, I don’t have a zeal for God after knowledge. What I’m saying is that I have honestly gotten so distracted by my affairs, lusts and pride that I have lost my zeal. There is absolutely no way that I can possibly pastor a church effectively and authentically without a true zeal for the knowledge of God. I must want to be a disciple. I think about the passage where a follower of Jesus, Peter told him that they had left all that they had to follow him. That’s a very powerful statement when you really look at it. A true disciple leaves everything. There’s nothing between themselves and their savior. How awesome is that to know that men were willing to lay aside profitable occupations, wives and families to follow a teacher who amazed them on a regular basis. I can only imagine how they were all the more encouraged each and every time they saw someone get healed, a demon cast out, a miracle performed, or a parable revealed. It is this zeal for knowledge that I want. Even Jesus himself said “blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

The easy thing to do is to say that I hunger for God. The hard thing to do is to say, I am daily a disciple of Christ. I am in obedience to my master. I serve Him. I wait on Him. I live to please him in the newness of life. My problem is that I find it easier to say I am a follower of Christ. Following Christ is easy because it really doesn’t take much sacrifice. Think about all the followers who left Jesus in John 6. This is the same chapter where Jesus said He is the bread of life that came from heaven, and that his flesh is the true food and his blood is the true drink. It doesn’t say how many withdrew, but there apparently were quite a few. These people who left were called disciples and Jesus even sensed that some of the twelve he had chosen were tempted to go with them. The choice was there and I would imply that if Peter hadn’t alerted Jesus to the fact that not only had they left everything to follow him, but that He was the only one who had the words that gave eternal life, a few of those disciples would have left also.

The key thing is what Peter said to Jesus. You are the one with words of eternal life. That’s what a true disciple says. A disciple stays with the master because that disciple has been sold on the fact that he/she can only get wisdom, knowledge, and growth from that particular master. It’s the norm in martial arts and ancient schools of philosophy. The reality is that there should be no other person we should seek out wisdom or salvation from other than Christ. That is the way of a true Christian disciple. The way of a true, authentic Christian disciple is that no matter how hard, how enticing, or how intense the onslaught of the world may be, we must remain constant in our devotion to the one true living God and His Only Begotten Son our Savior. That’s true discipleship and that’s what I’m praying that I can rediscover in my own life and ministry.