God Moves Mysteriously

Right now my Church Members are decreasing in number. I don’t know if it’s because of God’s answer to my prayer – “Lord, visit the Church and uproot its false foundations.”

False foundations may sometime refer to church members? I don’t know. But God is revealing something. Maybe He is telling us that dependence on sponsors is wrong. Or too much formality is not His way.

I know that in His own ways He wants us to return to true worship.

God reveal your will to us!

Turning Back the Hands of Time

This institution exists to train the heart.” Not putting aside the mind, but greater importance is given on the heart, or the development of character. That was the first important statement I heard from Mr. Sol Garner Dolojan, the Director of the Mindoro Bible College, now known as Center for Servant Leadership Philippines, the institution where I finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Pastoral Theology.
My prayer while studying Theology was for God to deal with me on a very personal level. I was really expecting to see my character pruned, developed, and transformed. I would like to see myself as a better person after finishing four years of Biblical studies. I was very hopeful and expectant. I believed that finishing the seminary would open a wide door for me – door for the full-time ministry and for better character.

Yet observing myself now and looking back several years before studying in the seminary, I see some disappointing things. Often keen analysis would bring me into a conclusion that I was better – maybe not in knowledge and some ‘divine skills’, but in character, courage, and humility. There was in me a dimension that made me real close to God – which I do not see in myself now. Alas! If I could only see the missing link to this greatness (or nobility), then I would have my life full again!

Surely it could not be knowledge – for I believe more knowledge in Scriptures would mean closeness to God, though not automatically, but still that is the standard of the Bible, except if I follow the example of the Pharisees who were full of knowledge yet was far from God. Nor could it be the skills – for abilities were graciously showered  by God with the sole purpose of investing for His Glory and building up His Church, unless I have been using these talents to serve my own vain kingdom. Or could it be that I have abused knowledge and skills to serve myself wholly?

Let this be an open question.

 

Politics, the Prosperity Gospel, and the Christian Servant

What about a founder of a large Christian Church who decides to leave this spiritual leadership so he could serve in the political world of politics?Are Christians (which includes great Christian leaders) the only ones whom God has called to serve as public servants or politicians?I believe, that yes, God could use (as He has done in the past) even the unbelievers for His Kingdom purposes (Take a look in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2). In fact, those whom He raised as politicians (public servants) are more equipped and trained in public service. And about their integrity? I know that there are some few out there whom He has preserved from the corruption of the heart regarding bribery, graft and corruption.
It is a very wrong view that God would not use the unbelievers for political purposes. More often than not, He uses the unbelievers for this purpose. And He calls the Church to influence the society more often through witnessing, having a holy life and getting involved in other social activities, rather than entering politics.

The church, very often, as evidenced in history, is easily corrupted when engaged in the world of politics. It is a wonder to me that many Christians today dream of getting rich, and even preach of getting rich and accumulating material prosperity in this world as a sign of God’s favor and approval. That is one inner motive why Christians enter politics – not really to serve, but to be served and for self-gain. Not all, but most of them.

But that was the opposite of the example of Jesus, the apostles, and the martyrs of the Church. They lived simple lives, the kind of life that looks on the eternal life with God as their inheritance. Their pleasures are fed on God, and not on the material things of this world. I am not against money or being rich, but I despise the passionate desire to be rich, especially among God’s servants. Surely, God has called a few people who will serve in the Kingdom by abundant giving and material resources but they are very few and in God’s design that is not always the case.

The prevailing Gospel today is the Prosperity Gospel (also called the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel), wherein it is taught that a Christian is destined to live a prosperous life – materially in this world as a sign of God’s approval. This is the Laodicean Church, the lukewarm church as portrayed in Revelation 3: 14-22. This Church has prosperity and material riches on the inside, but Christ was outside knocking at the door of their hearts. Take heed.

As a conclusion based on my daily observation in light of God’s Word:

1. Most Christians that enter politics are looking for self-gain and prosperity, inspired and motivated by their strong belief in the Prosperity Gospel.

2. Public service is only their second real agenda.

3. If elected, they will only bring economic prosperity, and not true spiritual progress. This may seem tolerable because as politicians, their primary aim is economic progress and not spiritual progress. My point is that their current thinking will sacrifice the spiritual to give way to the economical.

4. These kind of leaders will only lead the Church to aspire also for financial prosperity, sacrificing their spiritual condition before the Lord. Aiming for money and loving for Jesus could never go hand-on-hand. They will always be against each other.

Let the Life be Pruned for Service

‘A holy minister is an awesome weapon in the hand of God.’

Pruning isn’t easy – and always painful!

I really like that old saying by the late Robert McCheyne. He only lived a short life of 29 years, but the fruits of his service were beyond his age, thanks to his life that is wholly (and holy) devoted to God.

I am afraid that I observe the Church today emphasizing skills over character, the mind and the hands over the heart, the talk over the walk for the qualification for service. Of course, skills and the mind are not just important in the ministry, they are essential. But if we understand the Bible right, it would be accurate to say that God requires first holiness and godliness as essential criterion for service, over the importance of skills and abilities.

(2 Tim 2:20-21) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

These words from Paul pertain primarily to the ministry of a pastor, as a personal exhortation given to Timothy. But the principle is very applicable to every area of the ministry, whatever it may be: If God would use a Christian for service powerfully, then He would be looking first at the quality of the Christian Life. It is Christlikeness first that matters, secondary only is the outward competency.

The church today is weak in emphasizing this truth. Let me give some observations:

  1. Holiness is rarely preached today. But much is given to blessings. Obedience is preached, but only often in relation to blessings. Obedience as an outcome of a holy life is very seldom preached.
  2. We scout for possible workers/leaders in terms only of abilities. We are easily attracted to good singing voice, good communicators, brilliant ideas, and so on – not in themselves bad, but become very futile if we neglect the much more important side of holiness.
  3. We are hesitant to discipline and/or replace erring leaders/workers. I am not for the trashing of erring people – everyone isn’t perfect. But the problem is that as we are so eager to put talented individuals to service, so are we so weak in disciplining our leaders/workers whose lives are not worthy to be followed. We have adapted the spirit that we are afraid to lose the machinery (and the tithes) of our church, to the point of compromising and sacrificing the integrity and testimony of the church.

Much could still be said in this issue. This is often overlooked but requires immediate consideration and action. To some extent, if the church will not put emphasis on the holiness of her leaders and workers, then inevitably she is welcoming sin to lurk in the corners of the church, destroying her little by little.

Survey the pastoral epistles (Titus, 1 & 2 Timothy), the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, and we will easily see that God puts character first in the lives of his servants, before anything else.