The Purpose of Our Ministry

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Col. 1:28-29 ESV)

Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32) signifying what kind of death he would die.

We have also given this the somewhat spiritual interpretation of meaning that we should only preach Jesus and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2)–an interpretation that I am not against using. (Maybe it would be more accurate to call this an application, rather than an interpretation.) Anyway, the point is–Him we proclaim.

After 40 years of ministry, teaching the Bible to any who will listen, I am only beginning to understand what this means. I have not failed to preach Jesus and him crucified. I am still moved to tears anytime I talk of the wondrous work of the cross on my behalf. But I am just now coming to understand the fulness of what this means in my ministry and for my daily life.

I am beginning to sense an urgency in the Body of Christ, and I hear many preachers taking on a new tone of warning. This is something that has been lacking for the last two decades as we were lulled into a stupor with our eyes fixed on this world’s goods, listening to those who would sell us and tell us what we thought we wanted to hear.

Now, the emptiness of a self-centered, self-serving life is beginning to take its toll in the lives of many. They have achieved much, but gained little, and are beginning to realize the ledger is not balanced.

If you have any kind of a ministry at all–blogging, writing, talking on the phone, sharing on the street, speaking from the pulpit, whatever–I encourage you to “look on the fields, for they are white to harvest” (John 4:35). Seize every opportunity to speak the truth, to share what the Lord has done in your life, to warn those who are going astray, to encourage those who falling behind. (for an interesting and unique way to quickly encourage others, click here.)

Paul says here that he warns and teaches with all wisdom. I take that verse personally, and believe that I should be teaching and warning with wisdom. But, such is so often not the case. More often than not, I come on like gangbusters, sure that I have the answer for the situation, only to see someone hurt by my good intentions. As a result, I have learned to be quiet, waiting until I “know that I know that I know” that what I have is from the Lord. And I still make mistakes.

But, it’s not about me. It’s about the Lord, and when I can fully learn that lesson and live in its fulness, then I will be more able to see His wisdom as He flows through me in grace towards His people.

I gained an insight just last night while preparing this morning’s message from Phil. 2:13–I can’t get it wrong when serving the Lord. That is liberating for me.

My only goal in all that I do in ministry is “to present everyone mature in Christ.” Hopefully, something you read here will help you in your walk with the Master.

NOTE: This is the first in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Colossians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter one of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

Identity Theft

There is much concern, worry, and downright fear about someone being able to steal our identity.

For those of us who do most our financial transactions on-line–from purchasing of consumer goods to managing our assets–identity theft seemingly lurks behind every mouse click. Great measures are taken to make it more difficult for the identity predator to capture his prey.

Long and convoluted passwords are used within firewall protections wrapped within secret encryption devices and codes. In order to make it even more challenging, a different password is used for each account that requires one. Then the passwords are changed every few weeks or even days for each account. This includes not only the financial information accounts, but the social networking accounts and e-mail accounts.

Maybe it works. Maybe it serves. But I haven’t the time for it.

Once again, I find this to be unreasonable and pathetic for the Body of Christ to be involved in this.

My faith is not in the hackers’ ability to crack my encryption attempts. My faith is in the One who keeps me. Therefore my efforts at protection are minimal at best. I do only that which is required by the account that I am using. I’ve had the same password for all my accounts for years. I’ve had the same PIN for accounts that require them for years. In states where it has been possible, my driver’s license number has been my social security number. Simplicity is what works for me. Maybe it doesn’t for you.

My reasoning, though probably not well thought out, goes something like this:

  1. My identity is not how much money I have in my wallet. Neither my money nor my assets define who I am. Therefore, no one can steal my money and take my identity away from me.
  2. My life is hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Therefore, no one can steal my identity–they can only join in with it!
  3. I dwell in the secret place of the Most High (Ps. 91). Therefore, God is my protector, which makes stealing my money even more difficult.
  4. Since God is my protector, I will not fear what man can do to me (Ps. 56:11).
  5. Since I do not fear what man can do to me, I am not concerned about this so-called identity theft.

Identity Theft is a misnomer, and something the devil is using to deceive the people of God.

Every time a child of God uses the term “identity theft,” he/she is giving credence to the lie that our identity is tied up in what we own. We need to pay attention to the words we speak.

The fact that fear is at the root of this whole thing should be enough to persuade the people of God to avoid it. Avoid the discussions, except to interject your statement of faith. Avoid reading about how to protect yourself from identity theft, except for reading the Bible.  Avoid reading about the latest victim’s story, because it only ministers fear.

Some will say that we need to be concerned. I am as concerned as I need to be. But, I am not constantly on the lookout for it.

I recall when we had the news about the “DC Sniper” that people in Missouri were hiding behind their cars while pumping gas. That is not concern. That is FEAR.

The point of all this?

I’m not exactly sure. I just know that I am still bothered by Christians who claim that faith is their message, while fear is their motivation.

What is The Bible For?

NOTE: This testimony was sent to me by this person’s mother. The young man is 23 years old, and is growing in the Lord, which is making his mom and dad ecstatic. Rejoice with them (Rom. 12:15).
 
Austin Chapman’s Notes
What is the Bible for?
10-22-08     2:48a.m.
 
What is our Bible for? It is for instruction and guidance, yes?  If this is true, then the next question is how does it instruct?  How does it guide?  It’s methods are many, but it’s foundation is not.
 
I used to believe that the crux of Christianity was to love, to love unconditionally.  All of the teachings I found surrounded around love and I was under the assumption that’s what it all boiled down to.  Love God, love others and love oursleves in the ways that Christ teaches us.  However, I recently have changed this thinking.  I still believe that love is important and a very large part in what Christians are and should be.  Although, I do think that the larger purpose that Christ came for was to explain who he is; who God is.
 
We needed God to be explained to us because since the beginning of time, God has been giving us the chance to be like him or to be like the world.  He has tried to get us to be like him as much as he can while still giving us free choice.  He made us in his image and we blew it in the garden of Eden.  The next think he did was give us the ten commandments.
 
There are laws in the world because without them we have anarchy.  Without government or law, who does one answer to?  There is no authority higher than yourself if there is no law.  It is in this light that God gave Moses the ten commandments so that we would have laws, order.  These laws may seem obvious at times, a nuisance at others, but all in all, I believe that most, even non-Christians can agree that these laws build the framework of a good person and good society.  But the commandments aren’t right based on practicality, they are right because they are God.  God’s goal was not to create good people.  His goal was to create God people.  He wants us to be like him in everything.  He has beckoned us to be so close to Him that others can feel him through us.  That’s what those laws are for.  They are to guide our spirituality, so that we don’t have spiritual anarchy inside of us.  They are to make us more like God.
 
However, once again, we didn’t listen.  So, he gave us his son, Jesus.  He told us once, we were dumb.  He wrote it down for us, so we wouldn’t forget, we were dumb.  Finally, he came to earth himself to show us what to live like.  Christ came, according to John 18, to testify to the truth.  This truth was God, it was to reveal God’s nature and his personality and his thoughts and wisdom and love to us.
 
So, as my view of the path of Christianity has changed, I have realized that what the real essence of being a Christian is found within the Word itself: Christ, Christian means little messiah or little christ.  That is what we are to be.  We have been called to be living, breathing, incarnations of God himself.  This was God’s goal from the very beginning.  He created us in his image.  He created us to be God people.  He created us to be little christs.  So, what is the Bible for?  It is our handbook on how to transform ourselves into Christ’s image.
 
Father, please help me to be you,  Show me and reveal to me more and more who and what you are, so that I can take on your nature and imitate you.  You are such a powerful and mighty God.  I thank you for being patient with me and with all humans as we have struggled from the very beginning to get it right.  I want to get rid of the sinful desires inside of me.  Please make your will my will, your good, pleasing, and perfect will.  I trust you with everything and in everything let your will be done. Amen.

All & Every

Eph 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:          KJV

All praise and glory be to God!

I have been given–you have been given–ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ!

(You are in Christ, aren’t you?)

What do you lack? Nothing! What do you need? Nothing!

2 Pe 1:3
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:      KJV

We have been given every blessing and all things that pertain unto life and godliness!

What is excluded from every? Nothing.

What is excluded from all? Nothing.

What is included in every? All

What is included in all? Every.

Then, continuing in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul lists all the spiritual blessings that we have been given (v. 4-11)

  • we are chosen in Him
  • we are adopted by and in Him
  • we are accepted in the beloved
  • we have redemption through His blood
  • we have the forgiveness of sins
  • we are given wisdom
  • we are given prudence
  • we are given to know the mystery of His will
  • we are given an inheritance

Glory!! You should be shouting by the time you finish reading that list.

Lift up your eyes during these dark days and rejoice in the goodness of the Lord for what He has done for you.