Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In Defense of the Church

I have been guilty of this. I have been reading a number of writings, whether they be emails websites, books, blogs, or anything else that seem to do this as well. I see it in my industry. I see it in the news. I see forms of it everywhere l look. I wonder if it is an American phenomenon. What is it? Why do we do it? Why don’t we see how damaging it is? Haven’t we as believers seen how wrong it is? I am not sure what it is, as it has so many facets. I see some forms of greed in it. I see some forms of gossip in it. I see some forms of me first in it. I see some form of consumerism in it. I see some forms of selfishness in it. I see so many things in it, I don’t know how to narrow it down to one name, but I do want to narrow it down to the church. I talked a little about it in a previous blog on a book review of “So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore,” and the issue keeps nagging at me to the point that I feel I have to discuss it again.

In the book the main character goes through a transition from a church leader to a home church leader. There are a number of things going on in his church that look corrupt. The main character and his mysterious friend have a number of conversations about the wrongs in the church. Through these conversations the main character concludes that the church is dead and that believers need to move away from it to what God is “really” doing.

Again, I don’t know what to label it as, but I do see a problem here. I am hearing a lot about leaving the church, moving away from the church, switching churches because “this church isn’t meeting my needs,” leaving the church because it “asks too much of me,” complaining about programs and a number of similar issues. You hear a lot about “Jesus isn’t this or that.” You see and hear people say, “Why should I trust my pastor, he is just a man?” You even see certain circles saying “the family, not the church is the center of God’s focus.”

Something seems out of line here. I can’t find it in scripture that says it is okay to be like this. As you can see in my report on Five Fold Ministry, God has an order for the church. Our pastor spoke about the characteristics of the five fold ministry this past Sunday. He laid out the order of the heart of God in each of the ministries. Here I must say that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers run out two overall groups I mentioned above:

1. Programs and the like. These ministries are there to reach the lost, poor, unwanted, needy, children, single moms, drug abusers, and angry people. These ministries are also there to disciple the saints and equip them to continue to grow the bride of Christ.
2. Family. While it is true that God ordained the family and established it (Gen 2:20-25), it is the church (Eph 5:22-33) that is the apple of His eye.

Now, as I write the passage for Ephesians, I come to another thing that has been bothering me. As I said, I can’t put a name on it, but it has answers.

Eph 5:32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Eph 5:33 But also let everyone of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife that she defers to her husband.

Since the passage describes our marriages as a visual to Christ and the church, He wants to teach us some things. Everyone looks at the marriage lessons when they read this, but did you notice the connection to the church and Jesus? I am sure many of us have to some degree, but I want to talk about this thing that we are all guilty of.

The KJV Bible says it this way:
Eph 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

This talking out about and against the church… When we look at this passage are we all putting ourselves in the brides’ position and revering Christ as we talk about what He loves?

My wife and I have been talking about a story about Noah recently that relates to this topic:

Gen 9:20 And Noah began to be a husbandman. And he planted a vineyard.
Gen 9:21 And he drank of the wine and was drunk. And he was uncovered inside his tent.
Gen 9:22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.
Gen 9:23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders. And they went backwards and covered the nakedness of their father. And their faces were backwards, and they did not see their father's nakedness.

I think this passage teaches us something very important about how we handle our frustrations against the church. In our family what Ham did is called “bleeding down.” Ham is running out to his brothers to tell them about their fathers’ shame. We need to take a lesson from Shem and Japheth. We need to learn not to bleed down to everyone else about what we don’t like about the church. I could say we also need to learn this as parents, co-workers, home schoolers, Boy Scouts, and a number of other areas of life.

It is interesting to look at the rest of the story:

Gen 9:24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and came to know what his younger son had done to him.
Gen 9:25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan. He shall be a servant of servants to his brothers.
Gen 9:26 And he said, Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant.
Gen 9:27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem. And Canaan shall be their servant.

I would say Noah wasn’t too happy about having his shame of the day exposed. It was obvious that Father God wasn’t too happy about it either. As you look through scripture you will see that God validated this curse against Canaan. It is obviously played out though the account of Joshua and Caleb, and then further evidence can be found in 1 Kings 9:20-21. I think we need to learn a few lessons from this, or at least I do.

I think there are other Biblical principles on how to handle matters of frustration with the church. “But we don’t trust our Pastor because he is just a fallen man who is trying to get us to do what he wants” is ringing in my head as you know I am going to suggest talking to the pastor (Page 99 in the book, “So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore”: “We have inherited systems of body life and leadership that result from people trying to find a way to provide for themselves, rather than demonstrating what it is to live in Father’s care. Once ministry becomes a source of income you’ll find yourself manipulating people to serve you rather than Father’s love moving you to serve them.”). Funny, if you work in Sunday school, are a greeter, teacher, or work in any capacity in the church, the pastor trusts you. But I digress… Biblically you are supposed to go to your brother.

Mat 18:15 But if your brother shall trespass against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear you, take one or two more with you, so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he neglects to hear the church, let him be to you as a heathen and a tax-collector.

This is a serious matter. The church is the bride of Christ. To abuse it outwardly as many have done is wrong. To abuse it outwardly without trying to communicate what you see is nothing less than gossip. Jesus makes another statement which is very important and applies to this matter very well.

Mat 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. And every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.

Jesus knows our thoughts on the church. We have to ask ourselves if we are dividing the house. Many times we are the problem, though, and that is why He gave us teachings like:

Mat 7:1 Judge not, that you may not be judged.
Mat 7:2 For with whatever judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with whatever measure you measure out, it shall be measured to you again.
Mat 7:3 And why do you look on the splinter that is in your brother's eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye?
Mat 7:4 Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the splinter out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?
Mat 7:5 Hypocrite! First cast the beam out of your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to cast the splinter out of your brother's eye.

I am not calling anyone a hypocrite. I do this as well as anyone else. We all fall into hypocrisy at times. I just don’t want anyone to fall into it when it comes to talking about the church.

Friday, December 7, 2007

My Hero Dies Well

I am sure many of you know Evel Knievel died.  This was sad for me and I have to say I almost cried.  There is a lot I want to say about the passing of this guy that affected me, and I don't know where to start.  I guess I have to go to the beginning.

My dad used to race motorcycles.  I loved (and still do, though I was never able to get into it, but if someone wanted to get me a Christmas present I would love a Yamaha YZ250F) EVERYTHING motorcycles.  I loved to go to his races.  A few of the few (you can tell my childhood hero was Evel Knievel, I have had so many concussions, I don't remember most of my youth) childhood memories I have are memories of going to either an ice race or a trials competition and loving every minute of it. 

I was very young then.  I must have been three years old or so.  I don't think I knew how to talk.  I just replied to everyone in motorcycle sounds.  Then one night as I was in the house playing with my Evel Knievel Toys (of which I had all of them) HE called!  My walkie talkie buzzed in and it was ACTUALLY Evel Knievel calling from "Canifonia"!  It was the most exciting moment of my life.  I talked to Evel Knievel and told him all about my jumps and how I was going to do everything he did.  I was so excited.  The only bummer was that my dad had to go to the bathroom so he missed the entire call.....

Well, I often acted like Evel Knievel as I grew up.  I was a psychotic BMX freestyler and racer.  At 10, I was one of the first people ever recorded to jump out of a bowl at a skatepark.  I was challenging guys twice my age to go bigger.  I may have to dig up some pictures of those times for you.

In 1997 I cememted my likeness of Evel.  I broke my neck at a BMX race.  I thought of him as I was i the hospital.  My sister had put the tv on for me and the BMX freestyle X Games were on.  I laid there thinking how Evel paved the way for me and how  was one of the front runners of the sport.  I actually got to thinking of how Evel cheated death and paralysis so I knew God was going to take care of me.  It was a stretch, but I knew He was going to take care of me no matter what.

Three years ago a movie came out on tv about the life of Evel.  One of my buddies copied it for me, but I have still not watched it.  I didn't want to wreck my image of him.  I had heard what sort of man he was and I wanted to think of him as I knew him.  Somewhere along my life I saw a special on Robbie Knievel and how messed up in his heart he is right now.  In this show Robbie and his dad talked on the  phone together.  It didn't look at all like my phone call with him.  Robbie got off the phone bitter and angry.

Well, this brings us to the news of Evel's death.  Why was I so sad?  It impacted me that one of my few heroes in life had finally passed.  I think that was tough.  It dawned on me that he, for a long time rejected Christ.  I actually did cry about the passing of Evel Knievel over this thought.

I called Andrea to tell her about it.  She was sympathetic.  I think she knew it was one of the few heroes I have ever had.

Well, a few minutes later I turned on the radio i my car.  This is how cool God is!  The local Christian talk show was playing the recent testimony of Evel Knievel!!!  God reminded me of a lot of things about hope, and how the story is not always finished in those few minutes.  I will save that for another blog, but I would like to leave you some of the highlights of his career.

Evel Knievel Accepts Christ

Seven Greyhound Buses

14 Greyhound Buses

13 Mack Trucks

Caesar's Palace

Snake River Canyon


11 Mack Trucks

Fifty Stacked Cars

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Is it riding season yet???


Because I am ready to go.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Five Fold Ministry Paper

I just wanted to let everyone into my little world lately.  This is a paper for my Bible College class.  This is not the version I handed in, though.  This is the long version.  I am going to clean it up and hand it in as well just for the fun of it.

I am really only posting it for the stories.  See, I didn't have the directions for this report so I worked like crazy and got this one going.  I was really excited about it.  Then I got the directions and Andrea lovingly pointed out that I was supposed to do a three page summary.  OOOOOOOOPS!

Anyway, this version is a blending of the real report and the original.  Like I said, the stories at the beginning are what I posted it for.


Upon receiving this topic I did what anyone in my position would do.  First, I went to the library.  My wife is very handy to have around as she is very comfortable in the library.  We searched together for books that would guide me through writing this report.  Unfortunately, we came up empty handed.  Next, I had an epiphany.  I would go to the local Christian book store.  Surely one would find a great amount of resources pertaining to the five fold ministry in a Christian book store, right?  I mean, the job and soul desire of a Christian book store is to provide resources to build up the church…  Or so I thought.  As I walked in to hear the Christmas music, and look at all the inspirational pictures and knickknacks, I knew I had to ask one of the very knowledgeable staff for help.


“Do you have any books about the five fold ministry”, I asked.


“The what”, was the reply from the lady behind the counter?


“The five fold ministry”, I said.


“What is that?  Is that like the emergent church, or something?”

“No, the five fold ministry is not the emergent church.  It is the order established by God for the church.  It can be found in Ephesians 4:11-12”, I said.


The lady looked very confused now.  “Do you mean the gifts of the spirit?  Love, joy, peace, and that stuff, if you are looking for that…”


I interrupted here.  “No, the five fold ministry is not the gifts of the spirit, though those who walk in one of the offices of the five fold ministry should possess the fruit of the spirit.  I am talking about Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers.”

A light went on, and then faded quickly.  The lady was confused now.  Finally, I think she had an idea that could end this conversation in which I feel she was getting frustrated with.  “You might want to try looking in our pastors’ resource section.  It is the last bookshelf down that aisle.”

Finally we are getting somewhere.  I thanked the lady and happily proceeded down the aisle.  I walked past hundreds of self help books.  How to be your best you, your thinnest you, a better husband, a better wife, a better child, a better parent, how to books about nearly everything filled my eyes as I walked.  I made it to the place the lady directed me.  It was the pastors’ resource section.  Surely I would find a ton of gold here.  Not just what I was looking for, books about the five fold ministry, but I was sure to find books that would really mold me in to the man God wants me to be.  As I looked I was giddy with anticipation.

I could go on here to write a completely different paper, but I won’t.  Let’s just say the big bible book store had very little in the way of pastors’ resources.  Well, maybe a smaller book store is where the pastor shops.  I nearly knocked down a shelf of Joel Osteen book as I ran out of the store.  I hopped in my minivan and drove to a smaller book store where I was sure to find what I needed.  I made it to the smaller book store and walked in.

“Do you have any books on the five fold ministry?  I went to another book store and they didn’t even know what I was talking about.  I was hoping that you might have something that would help me write a paper on the subject”, I said to the wise looking older man behind the counter.

“Of course they didn’t have anything there, they are full of self help books”, he said.  I knew I could relate to this guy.

We sat and talked for a minute about my visit.  I told him how amazed I was to find so little in the pastor’s resources.  He understood my dilemma very well.

“A lot of people come here looking for things they should be able to find in a big book store.  Some people tell me they found more at Borders about Christianity than they do at that type of store, but that doesn’t help your problem.  What do you need again?”

“I am looking for a book about the five fold ministry”, I replied.

The man looked a little disgruntled now.  I thought this guy was my buddy.  We just shared a laugh together.  I could tell that his reply wasn’t going to be what I need to hear.  “We do not have any books on the five fold ministry.  That went out with the first century church.  There is no need for anything more than pastors.”

“Well, then what about evangelists?  Are you saying there is no need for them?  If so, it would wipe out nearly fifty years of ministry through Billy Graham.”  I can’t believe I just said that.

“Billy Graham may be an exception, but the popes’ of old are proof there is no more need for apostles, and I do not see God needing prophets either.  Pastors and teachers are the same thing, so God Himself has disbanded the five fold ministry.  Why would you have to do a report on that anyway?” 

“Well, I have to do a report on it because my teacher asked me to”, was the only reply I could give.  I wanted to stay and debate with him, but I had burned up my lunch hour.

What is it?

As you can see, I had a hard time finding resources for this topic.  It is obvious that this topic is not often discussed in the church.  I find this odd.  It seems very natural to me to have a five fold ministry covering since our church is a part of one.  I can point to several apostolic leaders who I know.  I have seen both the gift of prophesy and true prophets.  I know, and have worked with evangelists such as Steve Fatow.  Obviously pastors are around, and I also know of teachers who are not pastors.  Why then would I have such a hard time finding resources?

Well, I don’t really have an answer to the question of why I have a hard time, but I do not have to look as far as I thought to find solid information on the topic.  Our church is, as I mentioned, part of an apostolic network known as Master Builders.  It is from here that I know these people walking in these offices, and it is from these people I find my understanding of the five fold ministry.

Within Master Builders you have solid examples of five fold ministry leaders.  Pete Beck and Neil Silverberg are good examples of apostles.  They oversee a network of churches that spread across north and central America.  My own pastor, Mike Osminski, could be classified as three to four of the offices of the five fold ministry.  He walks as a pastor; he has apostolic oversight of the Michigan region; he is an excellent teacher; and I believe he also embodies the prophet.  Steve Fatow is a true evangelist.  There are obviously many pastors in the network.  The late Jim Murphy and his wife Carolyn are two of the best teachers I know.  It is from the book by Jim Murphy, “An International Minister’s Manual” that I will turn to for knowledge.

Who Are These Guys

Before moving into the next chapter of the report, I want to clarify briefly what each office is.  In order to do this, I need to reference the main passage of scripture where the five fold ministry is found.

Ephesians 4:11-12

11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

As you can see through this passage, God set this order so that the church can grow.

1.      Apostle-A messenger or an ambassador.

2.      Prophet-A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed.

3.      Evangelist-The evangelist in some churches is one that travels from town to town and from church to church, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

4.      Pastor-A pastor is an elder of a Christian church. The word itself is derived from the Latin word pastor which means shepherd. Pastor, shepherd and elder are the same, but are not synonymous with preacher or minister.

5.      Teacher-One who teaches or educates.

Apostle-Greek (one sent forth)-noun-A missionary or leader of a mission, especially one in the early Christian church (

As mentioned earlier, the apostle is somewhat of an enigma in the church today.  For networks and denominations that do not look at this passage of scripture as “for today” it is very hard to understand the office of the apostle.  I am not sure I understand how they can feel that this or any portion of the five fold ministry is not for today, especially since the church has historically been founded by apostolic work.  We can see this from Paul down to our present day.  Evidence of present apostolic work can be found in the Baptist church.  In each town you will find a “First Baptist Church”, and if the town is large enough you will find a second or third.  This is not because the church split, it is because the Baptists worked apostolically. 

The heart of an apostle is to see the work of the Gospel spread through every area.  They will often work in several capacities such as evangelist and pastor as they work to see this goal accomplished, but the apostle does something unique.  I believe the heart of the apostle is very similar to the heart of Jesus in many respects toward the church.  Jesus is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle, and the apostle understands this.  The heart of the apostle is to establish, nurture, and guide the bride as she grows.

Prophet-Greek (one who speaks for God)-noun-A person who speaks by divine inspiration (

A prophet is a person appointed by God to speak His word to His people.  Often in the Bible God uses a person to carry His word to His people.  Some of the prophets of the Old Testament were used to tell His word to others, and others, like Hosea, were used to demonstrate in a visual way that which God wanted His people to know.

A prophet typically can share a word through two major ways.  One way the word can come forth is in the moment.  God will urge someone to bring forth a message to a person or a group of people right in the moment.  Another way this can happen is in a word of the season method.  In this method, the Lord shares portions of a word over time and that word is shared as it comes to its fullness.

A prophet is concerned primarily with the truth or the issues God has in mind at a given time.  A prophet is less concerned with the people than he is in the truth.  That being said, a prophetic word given by a prophet can usually take on several forms:

·         Exhortation-to motivate and renew the spirit of the hearer

·         Edification-to build up the hearer

·         Comfort-to comfort the hearer

·         Predictive-to tell the future

·         Directive-to guide the hearer through decisions or actions

·         Rebuke-to point out sin and cause repentance


            In Hebrew the word is “navi”, which is defined as a “proclaimer.”  As seen above, Prophets of God are mentioned as far back as Genesis, but I think the Lord Himself describes them best in the following passage:

“I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brothers, one like you, and will put My words in His mouth. And He shall speak to them all that I shall command Him.” Deuteronomy 18:18

Evangelist-Greek (bringer of Good news)-noun-A person marked with extreme enthusiasm or support for any cause (

The Evangelist is possibly one of the few of the five recognized in modern times as an office of ministry.  The true evangelist has a heart that beats only for the lost.  Their desire is to share the Gospel with as many people as possible in their life.  As with the apostle, the evangelist wants to go to un-reached areas of the world.  Unlike the apostle, however, the evangelist is only interested in seeing lies transformed.  To the evangelist building the church is not their goal.

Something that is common among evangelists throughout history is the evidence of miracles.  Signs and wonders will often accompany the call to salvation.  The evangelist will often see God move when they are among the lost.  The signs and wonders that accompany the word of an evangelist are amazing.  They can range from small healings of arthritis to literally raising the dead.  Though they can be found in the ministries of both the apostle and the prophet, and throughout history they have been evident, I believe signs and wonders following evangelistic ministry is much more common.

Pastor-Latin (a person who tends sheep, a shepherd)-noun-A spiritual overseer, especially a clergyman serving a local parish (

The Pastor is possibly the only other of the five fold ministry to be accepted in modern times.  The Pastor is the person who oversees a local congregation.  The pastor is a mixed breed among the groups of the five fold ministry.  The pastor has a heart for everyone.  At times the pastor will almost appear to be an evangelist; bent on reaching every lost person in his community, but then they are also shepherds of a flock.  The pastor can be found in outreaches, the pulpit, and in the counseling office.

The heart of a pastor is very similar to the heart of the Father in that the pastor is there to encourage, teach, guide, preach, and reach both the lost and the found.  Like a father the pastor is concerned with providing for his family.  This is evidenced in the speaking and weekly teaching of his congregation.  Counseling and discipline are also traits that the pastor shares with the Father.  Like our Father, the pastor will look for those who have gone astray.

Teacher-noun-one that teaches, especially, on whose occupation is to instruct (

The teacher, like the pastor is called to teach the Word of God to the congregation.  This brings some confusion among the community for the role of the teacher.  Let me sum this up as easily as I know how to explain.  Though Pastors can teach and teachers can be pastors, the teacher does fill a different role.  The true teacher is primarily focused on building up the body of Christ.  Unlike the evangelist the teacher is not as focused on the lost.  The teacher desires to make sure that the church knows and understands what they believe. 


Instead of preaching as the pastor would, the teacher is focused on taking passages or portions of the Bible and breaking them down into understandable pieces for the main congregation.  A teacher will often teach through expositional methods, though occasionally they will teach through topical methods.  A teacher will be a well read person who uses a number of scriptures and outside sources to gain understanding before they pass it on to the body.

The Five Fold Ministry

First Mentions of the Ministries

Ephesians 4:11-12

11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up… (NIV Bible)

The five fold ministry consists of five different offices of the church.  As seen above, these offices of ministry are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.  Though these offices are first listed together as God’s plan for the church in Ephesians, each office is mentioned at other times in scripture.  The different offices can first be seen in the following verses:

·         Apostles-Matthew 10:2 (Jesus appointed His first twelve apostles)

·         Prophets-Genesis 20:7 (God told Abimelech, king of Gerar not to touch Abraham’s wife)

·         Evangelist-Acts 21:8 (Concerning Philip)

·         Pastor-Jeremiah 2:8 (A word of the Lord through Jeremiah)

·                                          Teacher-1 Chronicles 25:8 (Casting lots)
(Note: All verses found in KJV version of the Bible)


            Throughout scripture the Lord has used these tools to build His bride.  In Ephsians 4:11-12, He makes clear that these ministries are to be used to build and edify the body.  The five fold ministry was used in the first century church to do just that.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of debate as to the need of these ministries in modern times.

            In the early first century church, the use of the five fold ministry was known as the “Apostolic Age.”  After 100 CE the church moved into the age of the “Apostolic Fathers, and around 200 CE it moved further to the age of “Church Fathers.” 

In 306 CE the church took a major turn as Constantine was named Roman Emperor.  Shortly after he was named emperor, Constantine converted from a worshiper of Mithra, the Persian sun god, to a follower of Jesus.  There are different stories as to how and why he converted to Christianity, but in the end, his conversion led to Christianity moving from a small movement to a world religion and power. 

This shift in the direction of Christianity changed things for the church.  As the Apostles and the Prophets time was coming to a close, a new order was rising.  At around 607 CE, the bishops of Rome, who had become increasingly more powerful, had put together their first Pope.  Boniface III was named as the first Pope.  The end of the Apostolic Age was evident when he states in the Cessation Doctrines, “We declare and define it to be believed as a necessary condition of salvation that everything created in the human universe is subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

As he and those who followed after him grew the church in both religious and political power through the Middle Ages, all church life was filtered through Rome.  The Apostolic gifts, such as prophesy, signs and wonders, and those wiling to teach, did go on, but they were forced to do so in secret as the Roman church had lost its way through the power of man.  Martin Luther (1483-1546) and others like him challenged the Church of Rome on a number of points.  This opened the door to translations of the Bible into other languages, and different understandings of the scripture.

With this open door, many new things happened.  One significant rise was that of American Evangelicalism.  In this denomination and others like it, the quest for a return to New Testament theology.  Through these denominations seeking the truth in scriptures, the roles of Apostle and Prophet began to see a restoration.  Over the next several hundred years to the present day, though, there is still a division as to the roles of the Apostle and Prophet. ( B.K. Kuiper 1964)

Present Day Divisions

There are four major points of debate as to whether or not the five fold ministry is still active and valid in today’s world. (  Those points are:

1.                           Apostles had to be personal Disciples of Christ.  Since none exist today, there are no Apostles.

2.                           Prophets were used to give the Bible.  The Bible is finished therefore there are no more prophets.

3.                           Prophets had to be 100% accurate. Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:20-22

4.                           Mainline denominations do not accept the view.

In order to summarize how this topic relates in today’s church, I will give my personal debate to these opposing views of five fold ministry.

·         Apostles had to be personal Disciples of Christ.  Since none exist today, there are no Apostles.
Earlier I mentioned the first mention of Apostles in scripture.  This reference was Matthew 10:2.  I would like to use Matthew 10:1-5 as the reference t debate this point:

And when He had called to Him His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.   2And the names of the twelve apostles are these: First, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee and John his brother; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James the son of Alpheus, and Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus; 4Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.  5Jesus sent out these twelve, commanding them, saying, Do not go into the way of the nations, and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans.  (MKJV)

In this passage, Jesus appoints twelve who He sent out.  Notice He would not let them enter certain areas.  Now, take a look at this progression in Acts 1:8

“But you shall receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you. And you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (MKJV)

I point this out to show that He, in His infinite wisdom, commands much more of those Apostles.  He, if He is wise enough to send them, would be wise enough in Matthew 10:1-5 to tell us that those would be the only Apostles. 

Let us also consider Paul.  He was not one of the twelve.  He did not personally walk with Jesus.  He at one time persecuted those who followed Jesus.  I would question how this scripture got in the Bible, then:

“For I am the least of the apostles and am not sufficient to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:9 MKJV)


Prophets were used to give the Bible.  The Bible is finished therefore there are no more prophets.

I will concede that in the Old Testament Prophets were among the authors, however, just as Ephesians 4:11-12 states:

“11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” (NIV Bible)

It would appear that God had a plan for Prophets all along.  If you look at the Old Testament in this light, you see that God was attempting to get His people to repent in order to build them up.  I repeat the types of Prophetic words mentioned earlier:

·         Edification-to build up the hearer

·         Exhortation-to motivate and renew the spirit of the hearer

·         Comfort-to comfort the hearer

·         Predictive-to tell the future

·         Directive-to guide the hearer through decisions or actions

·         Rebuke-to point out sin and cause repentance

My question to the people who debate from this side would be, “in light of all scripture did not all the Prophets of Old and New Testament do this?”

·         Prophets had to be 100% accurate. Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:20-22

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.  Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (NIV)

20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death."  21 You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?" 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 (NIV)

I would agree not to accept a false prophet.  I do not think I would carry out the killing of a false prophet as that would violate Jesus’ teaching on “an eye for an eye”, and modern American law.  I would also add that it would be hard to qualify all prophesy as, given the types of prophesy, not all are about accuracy.  Some prophetic words are to encourage the hearer. 

·         Mainline denominations do not accept the view.

To this I would ask a question.  At several points of scripture there is mention of adding or taking away from scripture.  Several passages like these can be found in 1Timothy 6:3 and Revelation 22:18-19.  My question would be simply, “are you in error of the scripture at these points if you hold this view?”


            In summary I feel very strongly that the five fold ministry is valid and relevant to today’s church.  As seen in our own network of churches, Master Builders, the Apostolic leadership seeks the Father and sets the tone for reaching a dying world.  The Prophetic Word goes forth to all believers.  The Evangelist mobilizes the local church to reach the lost in un-reached areas.  The Pastors carry out the Apostolic vision of reaching the lost in their region along with uniting with other Pastors to lead the whole flock of their regions home to Jesus’ pasture, and strong Teaching gives us sound understanding of the Word and Person of God in order to share Him with a dying world.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hearing the Lord Through Non Believers and the Joy of the Lord

Let me start with telling you I want to keep this blog short.  I will follow it up with knowing I want to go down two very different trails because of the story.  I guess I don't know where this blog will end.  With that I will begin writing on the fly!

The other day I was at a gathering with several church leaders and church workers and a non believer.  A conversation arose about doing too much.  The non believer was telling this person they were doing too much and the other persons response was they will keep doing what they feel the Lord telling them though they may get a little grumpy.  From there we had a little joke but the topic died down.

Andrea and I were alone for a few minutes yesterday and the topic came up.  I would like to point out that both of us thought about that moment and both of us had the same conclusion...  The Lord was speaking through this non-believer.  This person had a word from the Lord for all of us and we failed to hear it because they weren't following the Lord.  As believers we tend to feel superior in such conversations and are too easily positioned to miss Father speaking to us.  For this I have a simple solution.  As believers we need to slow down and be ready to hear Father in everything.  Think if we were doing that, we may have been able, at that moment to agree with the Lord, validate the non-believer speaking to us through Him, and then have an open door opportunity to repent for ourselves and share the gospel.

The next point is not so simple to address, but it is the very point of this persons rebuke to us and the other persons response to the rebuke.  Often as believers we get caught up in the work.  Sometimes we get overwhelmed.  The Lord reminded me of a few things that I want to address.

In Luke 10:38-42 we find the story of Jesus visiting Mary and Martha.  As they relax Martha is running around doing all of the work while Mary is sitting at Jesus' feet.  Martha finally has enough and asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her work.  Jesus, instead of agreeing that Martha is doing too much and that Mary should help her, tells Martha that Mary has made a wise choice in sitting at His feet.   This is an important passage for several reasons:
1. Margin.  We need to take the time to fill our life with Jesus.
2. Work.  If we are grumbling about the work, we are missing something.  That something was just mentioned above.  We need to take time to fill our life with Jesus.  Doing the work is not getting us closer to Him.  We were saved by grace.  James also has a good point about us if we do this:
Jam 4:11  Do not speak against one another, brothers. He who speaks against his brother, and who judges his brother, speaks against the Law and judges the Law. But if you judge the Law, you are not a doer of the Law, but a judge.
Jam 4:12  There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you who judges another?

I will let God's word speak for itself on this one and be silent myself as I am one who stands convicted on this.

I could go on for hours right here about the work of God and the rottenness of us believers who do it and complain about it.  I will try to be brief, but I feel a storm brewing on my keyboard. 

Mat 11:28  Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29  Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.
Mat 11:30  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

This is a very important passage.  It is important for anyone who is doing what they feel the Lord telling them to do (ie home school, church work, parenting, working in commerce, LIFE IN GENERAL) and then complaining about it.  IF you fall into one of those categories like I do, let me comfort you.  We are all in the wrong!  We are all doing something very wrong.  Let me add this to those who then think I am saying that we are working too hard and that that is the problem.  We are all in the wrong!   The problem is very simple, we are not coming to Him.  This passage says come.  It doesn't say how many times, and I think people only do this passage once.  The issue with that is that there are many times we get heavy ladened.

I would encourage you at this point to read the entire passage of Matthew 11.  The whole thing is a rebuke from Jesus.  For us who get caught up in the work we need to check our hearts.  I cringe, and love the rebuke Jesus gives in Matthew 11:21:
Mat 11:21  Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the powerful acts which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes!

Many of us who work in the church are like Chorazin and Bethsaida.  We have done powerful works.  Maybe these churches were like many of us, doing a lot of work, but falling from doing it in love to doing it in work, or worse, doing it in self righteousness.  I love the fact that after all of this rebuke, there is hope.  We can take His burden.  If we start falling back into old habits, we can take His burden again.  As a matter of fact, we can keep taking it as long as we need to.

Let me add one thing here:  Nehemiah 8:10 has a little diddy that we all need to cling to.
Neh 8:10  Then he said to them, Go eat the fat and drink the sweet, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared. For this day is holy to our LORD. And do not be sorry, for the joy of Jehovah is your strength.
Neh 8:10  Then he said to them, Go eat the fat and drink the sweet, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared. For this day is holy to our LORD. And do not be sorry, for the joy of Jehovah is your strength.

The joy of the Lord is our strength.  Maybe we don't get stronger in the Lord, maybe He gets stronger in us.  I think many of us tend to forget the joy of the Lord.  I think as we work we go right back to being Martha.  We are looking at things from our perspective of having so much to accomplish.  We could be looking at them from things even worse than that.  I know I have over the years.  But, we are looking at things from our perspective.  Our flesh gets tired.  Our lips get heavy and start opening.  As this happens our hearts get revealed.  I did a quick survey of the Gospels this morning and couldn't find where Jesus ever complained.  He must have had something I want.  How do I get it?  I don't ave all the answers here, but the Bible leaves us a good direction on how to get it...
Luk 11:9  And I say to you, Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you.
Luk 11:10  For everyone who asks receives. And he who seeks finds. And to him who knocks it shall be opened.
Luk 11:11  For what father of you, if the son asks for bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake for a fish?
Luk 11:12  Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he give him a scorpion?
Luk 11:13  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How the Falls Looked

Well, Andrea and I, and our friends Joe and Terisa made it to the falls.  We had a great time relaxing and spending time together.  Andrea kept us informed on all of the details of Dickens Our Mutual Friend.  Joe and I watched the girls talk away as we sang songs and asked dumb questions like, "do you know where we can find any water?"  We also spent a good deal of time just talking about the Lord.

I took pictures and thought I would give the highlights.  My lens got dirty on my Nikon, and I got dust in it, but some of the pictures are good.

The gallery can be seen here

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Vertical and Horizontal

If you have read my blogs for some time, you are well aware that I am a pretty active member of my local church.  If you are new to reading my blog, then you may think I just went through a great awakening.  I would say the former is the more accurate statement, but as one goes on in his daily walk there are going to be times of awakening to new things in Christ.  I feel the need at this point to tell some of my history.

Well, I came to Christ, if you are Armenian, or I was saved by God, if you are a Calvinist, way back in January of 1988.  I used to be very into the martial arts and had an instructor who took me under his wing.  Through this I was exposed, and to some extent practiced eastern religions.  Well, one day a friend met a girl.  Funny, most mens testimony is that they met a girl, but in this case it was my friend.  He wanted to do everything to gain her, and that included me.  How??? Easy, I got my license in the fall of my senior year and he didn't have his.  (NOTE:  I was wrong on some dates in my life but writing this has helped me remember.  I had to get my license because in October my boss wouldn't let me park my bike inside our Bob Evans.)  So anyway, we started going to church.  A ton of events happened that I don't have time to write about right now, but in the end, somewhere I decided I needed to know what was true.  I had remembered a Pastor coming to visit me and show me love when I was a kid (because of some really bad stuff), and that pastor was the same man that was leading this church that my buddy had me going to.  I was getting this eastern stuff in Karate, and we also had a Muslim girl in our school. 

In my quest to know what was true  I read a number of writings including the Koran and the Bible.  To my young 17 year old mind, Jesus made sense.  To my 17 year old heart Jesus loved me.  Well, I had an exciting plane ride in Texas, that was very similar to flight 255.  When I came home I was invited to see a comedian at this church.  He gave a salvation message and here I am.

I met Andrea later in 1988 at Wayne State University.  I was arguing with God about my future.  I was just being real with him.  I was hurting, lost, alone, and didn't know what I was there for.  As I walked into the music building I saw Andrea and God said, this is what you are here for.  We met and were engaged not long after.

Of course, though Andrea was following the Lord, she was not a member of the church I was attending.  This caused some of the in crowd to have hurt feelings.  Through a series of events I left that church in favor of her church.  I her church there was a genuine desire to build me in what I was becoming; a man, a husband, and a father.  This church got in my face about sin.  This church got in my face about my addiction to bike racing.  This church did this in a loving way of pointing me to the Father.  Never was there the, "You idiot!  What are you doing?", but a genuine love for me and a desire to see Him glorified.

1997, I am strapped to a backboard in a hospital with a broken neck.  Andrea is going into labor with our pumpkin.  Pastors and friends are there not with an I told you so, but a caring hand.  The church pulled together and met our needs.  Sixty days later I am sitting with our associate pastor on my porch and he is challenging me.  I wanted to earn my state number plate.  He wanted me to move on.  Well, move on we did.  Later that year he planted a church and we followed.  It took about a month to hear the word from Father on this, but I did and we went.

In 1998 I was pulled into the pastors office.  I didn't understand the meeting.  There was a feeling that I didn't respect one of the leaders.  This wasn't the case.  It did something, though.  I was confronted and challenged to move from "nephew" to son.  I had remembered what it was like to give my heart to Jesus, and at that moment, something clicked and I had  a new understanding of His love for me. 

Somewhere around 2001 I had another encounter and experience with Jesus.  This centered around multi-culturalism.  We are a multi-cultural church.  Our pastor had brought an African American pastor in to give us some pointers on being culturally sensitive.  The core group learned a lot about having a lot to learn.  Some of us were offended.  This was Jesus pulling weeds.  I was hurt for a young boy who has never come back to our church because of this guy.  The guy made a joke about this kid and it crushed him.  Well, since everyone else was going to the pastors office to get dealt with, I had a trip, too.  We had a knock down drag out brawl.  I was not being heard about what really was the matter.  I think the pastor  lumped me in with everyone else.  As we fought, pastor and I, it became evident that I had a little problem with authority.  Today I think people understand what I was truly upset about as the guy who made the comment and I have become friends, but there was a bigger picture God wanted to deal with.  He wanted me to learn how to be under authority.

In 2004 I went back to the pastors office.  This time it was to deal with rejection.  I had moved into a leadership position and felt that people were against me.  Pastor Oz and I had a sitdown and dealt with the matter.  I took a 20 week course and changed jobs all around that time period.  This helped me see the Lord in a way that I had not before.  I was learning to be unoffended.  The cross is the ultimate act of a man unoffended.  When Jesus hung there and said "forgive them Father" it showed me that I needed to let Him work in my life.

Shortly there after I was named as the "youth pastor."  I really have learned a lot about ministering in love and compassion.  Seeing the youth has helped me see Jesus.  Through the last couple of years Andrea and I have learned a lot.  We have always done a lot in the church, but we have grown in how we do it.  We have been doing a lot more administration.  We have worked with the youth in our region.  We have started networking youth ministries together in an effort to see the whole body of Christ move to change Michigan.  We have been on missions trips.  In all of this we have seen Jesus. 

Today I am just continuing a longer journey.  My heart is to plant a church.  My heart is to replicate the work we are currently a part of.  I want to see Jesus glorified in our community.  I want to see families as whole as they can be and moving together as one body.  I want to see the poor reached as they are now in a different area.  I want to see MLK's vision acted out in our congregation.  I want to see more of the Father and be open to His vision. 

I hope you can see that through all of my life there have been two major lines drawn.  There has been a vertical line.  This line has been the one Father uses to pull me closer to Him.  There has also been the horizontal line.  This is another line Father has used to pull me closer to Him.  These horizontal lines are mandatory.  If I did not have them I would not know Him as I do.  The horizontal lines have not always been perfect, but they have been beneficial.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More Revelation Since the Book

The past two weeks have been a Revelation 2 time period for me.  Everything I have been seeing points me back to Revelation 2.  I have been talking to young married couples with struggles...Revelation 2.  I have been looking at my involvement in our church...Revelation 2.  My homework for Bible College... How ironic, it ended up being Revelation 2.

You are asking how this relates to "So you don't want to go to church anymore.." , so I will tell you.  I mentioned in my review on the book that its best foot was put forward in pointing people back to their first love.  How does that relate to Revelation 2?  The church at Ephesus gets a strong warning because they forgot their first love.

Many people write off Ephesus as the backslidden church or the loveless church.  I don't agree.  As I read the passage I saw much of my own life in there.  As I listened to people I heard much of the words of the passage.  I thought about my homework as being a prophetic teaching tool for my life.

I love the Lord.  I work hard in the church.  I minister regularly.  I help organize many of the outreaches we do.  I hate when people are deceived.  I hate when the devil gets into a persons life and messes with their head.  I hate false teaching.  I even get upset at misinterpretation of scripture.  Do you see how I am like the church at Ephesus?

What was the warning, then to a church who did so much and hated what is evil?  In all their work and good principles, they forgot their first love.  This is scary.  I have so many times forgotten things.  I have forgotten how far He has carried me.  I forget how often He has healed me.  I forget how many times He has provided for me when there was no other provision coming in.  I forget how many times I have seen Him in my life.

In reading about Ephesus, it is mandatory that you go back to the founding of the church in Acts.  In Acts 19, I believe, you get a glimpse of the work the apostle Paul does in the church.  One of the key things to me is the fervor in which they were converted.  In Acts 19:19, you get  a snapshot of something amazing.  These people were so radically moved by the love of Jesus that they burned anything that wasn't of Him.  The value on the items burned was pretty high.  Depending on what study you read, the value of what was burned could be equal to a Grand Caravan in your driveway. 

So, I sit here thinking about Revelation 2.  Thinking about how much I have worked.  Thinking about how many good principles I have.  Heeding the warning, I think about how good He is.  I think not in the abstract of what I was before Him, but in the specifics.  I was hurt.  I was wounded.  I had gotten bitter.  I did not know love.  I couldn't accept love.  I felt I was only there to entertain others.  I was on no path.  I had no direction because I had no worth. 

I needed Jesus and He knew it.  He did not exempt me from the cross.  He did not say "I will love everyone except Rob."  He said "Rob, I love you."  He showed me love.  He led me to Him.  He held me.  He gave me the direction I needed.  He ordered my steps and created a desire in me to work in the church.  He loved me enough that it made me want to make sure everything revolved around Him.

I had gotten into all of the work I have been into out of a motivation to serve Him.  The truth is, I think we all do this.  We all make decisions because of Him.  We all make decisions because we think we should do certain things.  But, have we made our decisions, or done our work, or built our principles out of love for Him?  Sure we made our choice to follow Him out of love, but have we based everything on our desperate love for Him?  Did we wake up this morning, turn on the computer, and plan our day with a mindset that said, "God help me to do the things today that get me closer to you.  Help me to love my children like you love me.  Help me to guide them like you guided me, not just to teach them good principles, but to love them forward.  Lord help me to remember the depth from which you reached to get me, and live out of that love."

I think about parenting.  I think of how I teach my kids good principles.  I teach them the Bible.  I teach them right form wrong.  I think they are getting old enough to know the difference.  Here is a common Revelation 2 mistake that I see in many parents.  I, and many of us do the right things. I train and love my kids, but I need to apply Revelation 2.  I need to be desperate for them.  I need to love them.  It isn't enough to show them right from wrong, but to continually show them Jesus.  This isn't the job of the pastor or the youth pastor.  I need to focus as a parent on how to worship Him through parenting.  I need to commit them to Jesus and care for them like Jesus cared for me.  I need to go a step further than good principles and give them the "why" sometimes.  I need to show them Jesus' love for them at every opportunity.  I need to focus everything on Jesus so that they focus everything on Jesus. 

Many of the things I do are teaching.  I need to rethink this.  With kids, more is caught, not taught.  When my kids see me desperate for Jesus they become desperate for Jesus.  I have seen this on the times I have been this way in front of them.   Lord help me to live this way.