It Should, But It Doesn’t Surprise Me

Many people have probably heard about the most recent plea by Preacher Jesse Duplantis to receive enough monies to buy/purchase a new Falcon 7 private jet, at the cost of $50+ million. It’s been all over the news for the past few days; ever since he came out publicly to ask people to give to this campaign.

Here is a link to one of the publications on this: http://time.com/money/5293979/jesse-duplantis-televangelist-private-jet/

I normally don’t take to blogs, to media, to any outlet in order to offer a response to such things. But in these past 24 hours, I have felt compelled to give a personal perspective to what is a heartbreaking conversation piece. And while I would love to say that something like this surprises me and takes me off guard, the reality is: It Should, But It Doesn’t Surprise Me (at least, it doesn’t any longer).

Today (Thursday 5/31/18), I was actually asked by someone outside of our church community, in a casual conversation, “What do you think about that story of Jesse Duplantis?” It came from someone who I’ve come to know better in the past 2 years, and from someone who I am sure was interested in seeing what I might respond with. It didn’t take me long to reply to him.

Here is my take: I believe that our Great Lord and Savior would, if He were here today on His first coming, going around the world and spreading His Good News, would travel commercially. Perhaps, as Jesse states: “He would not ride on a donkey,” but maybe He would. In fact, I believe He would if it would lead others to belief, to faith, and to new life. Plus, prophecy was based on His riding a donkey anyhow!

I believe Jesus would do just about anything to impart God’s will and execute the ministry of the Kingdom. Including, traveling commercially in order to interact and make connections with people…with everyday people…with sinners…with those who need hope. That is just who Jesus is.

How can that be done flying privately? How can it be done running around the world to make preaching engagements, but avoiding meeting others
where they are? Airports and airplanes are great ways
to meet people at opportune times.

The heart of Jesus was always to pour Himself out; to give of Himself; to meet people on the streets, by the lake/river, in their home, and on the steps of the temple. Jesus was where the people were.

That is how I responded today. A lot of good work could be done with $50 million dollars. A lot of lives could be changed and transformed for all eternity. While I don’t judge or have to answer for Jesse Duplantis or any other, my assessment is that I would rather see resources put into the things most important to God’s heart: seeking and saving the lost; feeding the hungry; clothing the naked; building up the church in spirit and in truth; giving back to the community; etc.

May the Lord help us all, to be people after God’s own heart.

The Matter of Belief

I used to be told: “Either stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” To this day I am not exactly sure where it originated, but I am sure Google or Bing or Yahoo could help direct a history. In many forms and fashions, and at different stages in my life, I have heard those words or something quite similar.

The fact is: What we believe, and why we believe it, is more essential than we often realize. Not just as we grow, mature, and get a bit older. The sum gain is that the beliefs we adopt, ascribe to, and support will often help cultivate our life, our priorities, and our worldview. That is just reality.

Later this month, on Sunday, April 29, we will launch a multiple part Series titled, “We Believe…” Over the course of at least 6 weeks, we will both cover our agreed upon beliefs in our Christian family, called Nazarenes, and we will dig deeper into them to see their Scriptural basis. We are but one part of a much bigger family of God, but for over 110 years now, our heritage has been anchored in a passionate pursuit of drawing ever closer to God. As a Great Commission Church, we give much priority to Jesus’ command “to go into all the world and to make disciples of all people.” Yet, our conviction and desire goes deeper into God’s heart, as we work out this faith in the here and now.

I sincerely hope you will join us for this Series. The top priority is to honor God through it all. Along this journey, as a second focus, is to come together in shared/unified belief as we do the equipping, service, and work of His Church in the 21st century. Again, each Sunday @ 10 am, starting on April 29, 2018 at Bridgeway Church. Of course, we hope you will join us before the Series begins and after it concludes.

We are better together…always,

Porter

Closer to the Heart

Since March 1, we have been on a journey of Hope and Renewal. The Series is called, “Come Alive” and with the Series came the 30-day journey. It is designed to prepare us for what begins this Sunday (Palm Sunday), continues through next week (Holy Week), and culminates with our Easter Sunday Celebration.

In relation to this, I felt impressed to share a few tidbits on where we are. I love having a resource like the book to follow together, for those that either bought one or had one provided. It gives us some shared opportunity to glean, pray, and read together.

As we arrive at chapter 20, we see the reference from Matthew 6, v.21. It is a direct statement from Jesus that pierces us. It truly goes straight to the heart and leaves no room for ambiguity or misunderstanding. It is simple, yet, it will drive us to really ponder the essence of our being. Here it is: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” Clearly in making that statement, Jesus was directly conveying that treasures are a reflection of our heart.

People often go off on a tangent when they hear that or read it. Some will even go so far as to say: What does it mean? Should I just give everything away and live in total poverty? – often implying that it surely is not reasonable, or that Jesus would not require that of us. Relax. That is not what Jesus is saying. Rather, it does mean that we (no one excluded) need to examine our actions and desires and be certain that Christ is the center of our lives (see p.65).

It is no one’s duty, or job, or position to tell someone else how to exercise generosity. That is solely the responsibility of the Holy Spirit. God’s puts His people in places where He can utilize others to guide, lead, and teach us good/godly principles, biblical concepts, and prayerful suggestions – but the inner work and the heart cleansing is His thing!

Simply ask yourself: Based on your actions, behaviors, and choices – related to finances and money – where would you say your treasure is? What would those closest to you respond with? That might be a tad painful to answer for some, or, you could look back and see how far God has brought you. Either way, God will be faithful in His work and He will bring you further – if you will allow Him to. That is a fact for all of us! 

Why this subject? Why at this juncture? What’s the reason? It is fascinating to note that Jesus talked about money, about riches, about treasures more than any other subject. He knew the issues it caused – He knew it was a major reason why people remained distant from God, why others wouldn’t surrender, and why even some would not come to faith. So instead of just tiptoeing around it, or leaving it alone – Jesus goes to the heart, as He so often does.

God loves us. He has provided His best, in Christ, for everything we need for life and salvation.  His piercing may hurt…it will challenge…it even goes deeper than we sometimes wish it would. But He always has our best interests at heart. Wherever our treasure is – there our hearts will be too.

Hope lives.

Porter

The Shepherd and His Voice

One of the things that is to keep us encouraged and motivated, as the church, is to always know that “Jesus is Lord” and that within all that we do, we do it for Him.

Occasionally, it does us well to step back (even for a moment or two) and realize that together, in unity, we are the body of Christ. In today’s context and culture, I think that is easily marginalized. In fact, I see some that actually fly in the face of God’s original intent for His Church and the Mission He has given it.

So how do we best follow the mandate of Jesus? With so many that make up the body as individual members and partners, how do we move forward without leaving anyone behind? That may just be the “so-called” $64,000 question.

This past Wednesday at our All Colony Monthly Gathering, here at Bridgeway, I was blessed to lead a discussion on John 10. We’ve been in this powerful Gospel narrative for a few months now, and I have found this chapter to be among the most challenging, encouraging, and supportive. Not that the rest of John isn’t rich in instruction and teaching, it surely is. But because of where we are and where God is leading us, I have felt that John 10 speaks right into it.

In this segment of the Gospel, John presents Jesus as “The Good Shepherd” and identifies us (as people and as His followers, as “sheep”). Go on and read it. So as we read and gleaned through John 10, a few things arise and seem to just saturate. Let me pinpoint a few and highlight:

  • First, John 10 reminds us that “it’s not what you know, it’s Who you know.” For example, as we look at the Pharisees and their establishment of religion, they were more highly educated than the masses. Yet, within their knowledge, they failed to “know God.” And to be clear, they did not know the voice of The Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
  • Second, there is a powerful principle: Jesus Christ (alone) offers us, gives us, and supplies us with “the abundant life” (v.10). Knowing Him is our greatest privilege – there is no sweeter sound in all the earth than His voice. Don’t be deceived by thinking that the life He gives can be bought, found, or traded for, anywhere else.
  • Thirdly, John 10 is the best commentary that exists on Psalm 23 (go ahead and read that too). “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” – that is exactly what Jesus gives in John 10. When He is truly our Shepherd, we will not lack any good thing. [By the way: there are many biblical references of support for this].
  • Fourth, while God loves all, cares for His sheep, and calls them individually, much of His care and guidance comes as His sheep are a part of His flock. Get this now! That is, today, The Church. This is a very individualistic time period in history – more so than ever before. When personal independence is paramount in the lives and minds of many Christians – it leaves little (if any) room for His preference. It is ignorant for us to expect and demand personalized customizing, based on preference, from any human means. That is, the good of the body, His Church, is a movement of people who identify Jesus Christ as Lord and Jesus Christ as The Good Shepherd. No human can meet the needs. No human can be omnipresent. Human shepherds, no matter how well gifted, can live up to the expectations placed on them. This is precisely why God deals with His Church as a flock. And on this point, within chapter 10: it seems evident that God has instituted His Church so that the needs of His people can be met in the context of a flock. So, are you vitally involved with a flock of sheep (a church)? If not, you should be – both to minister to others and to be ministered to by others. The Lord’s sheep are His sheep, not our sheep.
  • And lastly, as the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is the ultimate standard for all shepherding: no one can/will duplicate Him. We strive to be the best we can, with God’s help and the Holy Spirit – but there are just certain things He can/will do that we cannot. What does that mean? We have to know when to be involved and when to go all in, and we need to know when to let go and let God. There is a fine line there that is often difficult to see, but nevertheless, we must be sensitive to it and we must discern it better and more clearly.

John 10 is such powerful revelation. We could certainly go on, and on, and on. But for now, I believe we just need to soak on this. We need to get this. We need The Good Shepherd in every aspect of our lives, so that we don’t miss Who He wants/wills/desires to be . Praise God for His presence in our lives, and for His voice that is known by His sheep. He alone is worthy!

Porter

Sundays are the Best Days!

Lately, I’ve been reading much on Sundays. I guess I’ve paid attention more and more, with each passing year, because of the way Sundays have been secularized and marginalized over the course of the last few decades. Now, we are at a place where Sundays are used for just about everything other than Worship, other than gathering with God’s people, other than being a sacred day of physical and spiritual refreshment.

There are people who might reason or think: “We’ll, you are a pastor, and Sunday is your work day.” Or, “Isn’t that a bent way to look at it? You surely don’t know how busy I am, or how tired I am, or how many tasks I must get done on Sunday before the week starts.” Ok, I hear you – if those are your sentiments. It doesn’t mean I agree with them though. And that’s not being unsympathetic to your “life” situations, rather, it’s taking God’s view and vision more seriously, and to heart.

As Hal Seed writes in his book, I Love Sundays, “God wants Sundays to be the best day of your week and the Sunday worship service to be the best hour of your day.” I believe many (if not most) take and view their Sundays with the wrong perspective. You see, it gets tied in with the weekend and is normally a “non-work” day for those who work M-F. So with work, commutes, kids, sports, school events, grocery shopping, meal prep, doctor’s appointments, house cleaning, yard mowing, general maintenance, home projects, and other things: Sundays get lost in the mix. In fact, Sundays become a day of “catch-up” and “football” and “shopping” and really, in all transparency, “laziness.” How do I know that? – Because I once did those same things and took that same standard.

Sundays, though, begin the week! It is the first day of the week when we can pause and make our first priority of the week worshiping God as His people. It’s a day when we should say: Lord, my will may be to stay home, to stay in bed, to do as little as possible, and to eat. But in it all, may Your will be done. Help me make this day, Your day, the sabbath day – a day spent with You. 

Then, you just need to pray it will start a pattern as you remain focused on God. You can believe me: the enemy will throw every excuse, every reason at you as to why you deserve the day…as to why you should stay home…as to why you don’t need to worship. A lot of times – it begins long before Sunday morning ever rolls around. But occasionally, it will become paramount just a few hours before: things get chaotic, people have to actually wake up, kids don’t want to go, and when a spouse isn’t exactly supportive.

Pushing through can be (and often will be) very delicate. But do it. Do it in love and with great expectation. Pray deeply. Pray long. Pray passionately. God will meet you there. But I believe as you step out on faith and as you trust Him, He will honor that. Nothing worthy of God and His Kingdom is easy – but it is worth it. Again, may His will be done!

And this is the way your approach should be in coming to worship. Come in both anticipation and expectation. Not because you “have” to, but because you “get” to. You are invited to be a part of something MUCH bigger than yourself. Much greater than anything we, collectively as people, could ever produce. You are invited in to God’s House, to His people, and most importantly: Into His very presence. That, in and of itself, should be and must be taken seriously.

I like how Hal Seed (mentioned earlier) captures this. He digs into the whole perspective of Sunday. You see, many have the wrong motives. But he reminds us: “The key to a great Sunday isn’t the preacher – the service – or the people. The key to a great Sunday, is you.” What are you missing out on? What are you selling yourself short on? How could Sundays be better than they are now?

Come and be a part of what God has set apart, and ordained, for your Sunday.

In prayer, with hope, in He Who is worthy…

Porter