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Tuesday, March 20th, 2007 | Author:

James 5:1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you.

James 5:2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten.

James 5:3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!

James 5:4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, {and} which has been withheld by you, cries out {against you;} and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

James 5:5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

James 5:6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous {man;} he does not resist you.

James 5:7 ¶ Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.

James 5:8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

James 5:10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

James 5:11 We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and {is} merciful.

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Monday, March 19th, 2007 | Author:

I wonder if this title could be written over the mission statement of most American churches.

James 4:1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?

James 4:2 You lust and do not have; {so} you commit murder. You are en-vious and cannot obtain; {so} you fight and quarrel. You do not have be-cause you do not ask.

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong mo-tives, so that you may spend {it} on your pleasures.

James 4:4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James 4:5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?

James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore {it} says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

James 4:9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will ex-alt you.

James 4:11 ¶ Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or 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 {of it.}

James 4:12 There is {only} one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

James 4:13 ¶ Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”

James 4:14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are {just} a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

James 4:15 Instead, {you ought} to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

James 4:16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

James 4:17 Therefore, to one who knows {the} right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

James 4

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Saturday, March 17th, 2007 | Author:

Since we moved to Texas, I have been impressed with the slower life pace here and the friendliness of the people. There are lots of antique shops and a few antique towns such as Gruene, Texas. Gruene is pronounced green, like the color. It was founded by German immigrant farmers in the early 1800’s and is a really great place to visit, shop and eat. The restaurants mostly overlook the Guadalupe River which slowly wanders its way through this little town. Tourists fill the streets every weekend so much so that it is hard to do any of the above activities as you cannot get a parking place. Gruene has a sign on the freeway nearby which says, “Gruene, gently resisting change since 1872.”

  I saw this sign again the other day and it struck me that these words could describe thousands of American churches. Sometimes these churches don’t gently resist change but often, especially in business meetings, they show this resistance to change in everything from what color of paint to use in the men’s restroom to the budget. I have personally witnessed this flaming anger in smaller churches that I pastured in my early years of ministry. A friend of mine told me of a case when his church had a business meeting, one man brought a gun in case he might need it. Pathetic! Divisions are not uncommon in smaller churches. Selfishness can often take over the command to, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”

  Note Paul’s comments to the most carnal church in the whole Bible.

“But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.”

  1 Corinthians 11:17-19

I wonder if this title could be written over the mission statement of most American churches. “We’re happy like we are, don’t try and change the way we do things.” When things happen that threaten their status quo, they often become very uncomfortable as small churches coined the seven last words of the church, “We have always done it this way.” I believe that it was Elmer Towns who called these churches “Fortress Churches.”  He accurately lays out the characteristics of how they operate in a few statements. Most of these churches have not seen anyone saved and baptized in so many years that the baptistery is three inches deep in dust. The water faucet to fill the tank is rusted shut. I, along with many of you, am grieved with churches that have given up on trying to break out of the status quo and do great things for God once again. They often repeat the great events of the earlier days of the church such as the revival of 1957 or when thirty-seven people were saved in a crusade they held in 1962. What has happened this week should be the riveting topic of conversation but sadly it is not.

  I remember hearing a story about a little, passionate Southern Baptist lady who went to England and was taking a tour of the great cathedrals. In church after church she heard about what had been in times gone by and who was buried under the pulpit or other locations on the premises. When she had had enough of such foolishness, she broke into the guide’s canned speech and said, “I don’t care who died and is buried here, I want to know the last time someone was saved in this place.”

  This should be the questions that all members of the church should be asking. Why aren’t we seeing people saved, baptized and discipled in our congregation? People often forget that the church is NOT a building; it is the people who make up the church. It is not just the responsibility of the pastor to win souls and disciple new believers; it is the responsibility of each and every member of the church. The Great Commission was not given to pastors and leaders only; it was a commandment to the whole church.

  One of the most tragic statistics that I have come across over the years is the figures on how many individual believers ever lead another person to salvation in Jesus. The Southern Baptist Convention, one of the most passionate groups I know of when it comes to reaching the world with the Gospel, released the figures that only 1.5 to 3% of the 16,000,000 Southern Baptists ever lead another person to Christ in a given year. Someone has stated that the only command that the human race has ever fully kept is, “Be fruitful and fill the earth.” It should be, among Christians, the fulfilling of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”                         Matthew 22:36-40

The Great Commission says, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe (obey) all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”                                                                                    Matthew 28:18-20

So, how are we doing on these two? There must be some misunderstanding here since the results are so poor.

Why do we think that this commission deals only with “getting people saved?” Often this is the only message pastors preach. You go bring them in and I will preach the gospel and they will get saved. This is almost a slap in the face of Christian people, as though they are incapable of winning souls to Christ on their own. Note that it says to GO and MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS.”

First, it doesn’t say bring them to church but to get outside the four or more walls of the church building and get close enough with lost sinners to talk with them and move the conversation toward spiritual truth and ultimately give them a witness of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We have turned the Sunday service into an evangelistic time rather than a time to equip the saints for the work of ministry. When the saints say, “We’ll bring em in here, pastor, and you save em,” they are merely repeating what they have often heard.

  Second, what has happened to evangelism training classes? This is not just teaching what some book says but it actually ends with going out into the street and engaging people. Ray Comfort does this very well as some of you have seen on Christian television. Ray’s whole ministry was started when he read a great book on evangelism by Walter Chantry entitled, “TODAY’S GOSPEL:  Authentic or Synthetic.” I am not sure that Ray would admit that his teachings come from this book but as you read it, it fits the time frame of when his ministry started, the exact scriptures used and even the illustrations to a degree. Regardless, Walter Chantry’s book is the best book that I have ever read on getting back to what the Bible says about evangelism and how to avoid man made methods that end up picking green fruit and questionable conversions.

  Third, the great missing piece in all of this is, “and make disciples.” Making disciples is a major commitment on the part of the person discipling a new believer, but it also involves the new believer making a commitment to do what the disciple tells him or her to do and to be at every session they have. This usually takes five months to a year to do this. Is it worth it? I have had the awesome privilege of discipling many people over the last few years and I have never seen anything as effective in bring people to maturity than this process. I have used International Evangelism’s material for many years. It is written by Billie Hanks Jr. and is the best and most straightforward material that I know. We must never see discipleship as a ‘program’ but as a one-on-one life changing ministry.

  But isn’t this process too slow to ever make any difference over the long run? No way! It will win the whole world, depending on how long you spend with each disciple, in just over fifteen to thirty-three years. That’s right, 15 to 30 years, and starting with just one person, you or me.

It goes like this. I am using the six months of training example for the fifteen year figures.

You win one person to Christ, of your same gender for discipleship purposes, and then you spend the next six months training them in living out the Christian life. (Discipleship should NEVER be conducted with the opposite sex. You are spending too much time in the process and this could cause lots of moral issues to come up, even being seen together every week would cause gossip to start.)

  At the end of six months there are two of you. Each of you wins another person to Christ and each spends the next six months training them. This isn’t rocket science, it is passing on what you have been taught.

These passages are the biblical ground zero for discipleship.

 “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

  2 Timothy 2:1-2

Here is another great passage to illustrate the process.

  “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”       Philippians 4:9

The huge commitment in discipleship is requiring each trainee to do the same for another person.

  CRITICAL: The Hebrew discipleship model was a very serious thing to undertake. The disciple would approach a spiritually mature leader and ask that they would take them under their wing as their student. They would come under the authority of the teacher and commit to do whatever the disciple maker asked them to do. They were to stay with this person as long as the teacher felt necessary before they would be released as a certified disciple maker themselves. In those days they would live with this individual the whole time. Can you imagine what awesome training could be had? Jesus did this very thing with His disciples. Paul was also a disciple maker and this explains why he was so firm in refusing to allow John Mark to resume traveling with them since he had abandoned him earlier.

Discipleship is a very serious commitment on both parts. This is why the early disciples turned the world upside down for Christ. They were well trained and resistance was reasoned away as they word of God. This work MUST be started and maintained by the pastor/shepherd of the church.

  If them student was unwilling to agree to these commitments they would not take them as their disciple but get another new believer or win another one to work with. If we, as teachers, wait too long after a new believer is saved they can grow cold and indifferent to the whole idea. I have found that if you get a new believer immediately after they are saved, they are eager to do whatever it takes to grow as a Christian. Research has shown that this window is about thirty days. If we wait too long, time and circumstances will dull their eagerness. Start immediately! I can say that I have had many of the greatest joys possible to a pastor as I have seen many of these disciples go on to become pastors themselves or church leaders who do train others.

To speed this story along, let me just list the numbers.

You win one and train one for six months: At the end of six months you have 2, you and your disciple.

Second six months or Year one: 4

  Six months: 8

  Six months Year two: 16

  Six months: 32

  Six months Year three: 64

  Six months: 128

  Six months Year four: 256

  six months: 512

  six months Year five: 1,024

  Six months: 2,048

  six months Year six: 4,096

  Six months: 8,192

  Six months Year seven: 16,584

  Six months: 33,584

  Six months Year eight: 67,158

  Six months: 134,336

  Six months Year nine: 268,672

  Six months: 537,344

  Six months Year ten: 1,074,688

  Six months: 2,149,376

  Six months Year eleven: 4,298,752

  Six months: 8,597,504

  Six months Year twelve: 16,195,008

  Six months: 32,390,016

  Six months Year twelve: 64,780,032

  Six months: 129,560,064

  Six months Year thirteen: 259,120,138

  Six months: 518,240,276

  Six months Year fourteen: 1,036,480,552

  Six months: 2,072,961,104

  Six months Year fifteen: 4,145,922,208

  Six months: 8,291,844,416

Well, you get the idea. Why isn’t this happening in all churches now and why hasn’t it happened in past generations? It was either never explained to the people or the pastor, or it was too inconvenient to their chosen lifestyle.  It takes a time commitment. Too often today we just want the numbers and once they are saved we just leave them to grow on their own with a 30 to 45 minute sermon a week on topics about felt needs rather than feeding their spiritual growth stomach with solid food from God’s holy word. Tragic!

Do we get 100% who will go on with the training? Sadly, no! What happens? With all the built in distractions today, they drift back into old patterns of what is most important and lose the blessing of seeing someone receive what they have been given. Your disciple maker has spent six months of his or her life pouring time and energy into equipping you to know God and serve Him. You owe it to another human being to pass it on. To refuse to do this is sheer selfishness!

Freely you received, freely give.”                                              Matthew 10:8b

Even if only 50% follow through with their commitment, your commitment will still yield 4,145,922,208  (four billion, one hundred forty-five million, nine hundred twenty-two thousand, two hundred eight) people who will be trained how to know God at a deeper level and in living for Christ with their whole life in just FIFTEEN years.

What could you possibly accomplish with the next fifteen years that would compare to this? Little old you and me could make a huge difference in this lost, blind and hopeless world.

“But the old saying, “I have to do what’s best for me,” is the devil’s spoiler of our good intentions.  Is that what you will say to God on the day you stand before Him? “Well done good and faithful servant,” will only be said to those who have sought to do His will with our whole heart. This is a favorite verse to quote at funerals, but does it really apply to the persons life or did they pretty much do what was best for themselves?

Some folks will say, “I have very little private time as it is.”  Need I remind us that we have no personal time? It all belongs to the Lord? He purchased our very life on the cross.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”                                               Galatians 5:1-17

Someone has said, “I have all the time in the world to do the will of God.” This is so true! The problem is that the world hurls far too many unimportant things into our day and convinces us that they are essential and must be done now. They don’t.

An old saying goes, “Only one life will soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

The things that rob our time to do God’s will are the things that will not be taken into eternity with us. They will all be left on earth to be destroyed? Houses, lands, fancy cars, boats, toys for recreation will all burn! Odd the word they use … re creation. The Bible says that at the moment of salvation we were re created into His image. This is not maintained with material items but spiritual things.

Bond servants, which you don’t hear much about these days, are to do the will of their master at all times. I heard Chuck Coleson quote a saying from a prominent pastor today. It read, “Put God to work for you.” That is blasphemy! People throughout Scripture who  tried to manipulate God found themselves on the cast aside heap. Remember Aaron’s two sons and their strange fire offering?

  “Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘It is what the LORD spoke, saying, “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.” ‘ So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.”                        Leviticus 10:3

I wonder if this is what is being taught in seminaries today? It is usually learned from another “Popular” pastor’s cliché book of sayings. I personally heard one of these fellows say, “God couldn’t even help this pastor.” He said this in reference to a pastor who does not develop his LEADERSHIP gift. Where are these fellows coming up with such garbage? Not the Bible for sure!

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”                                       Luke 1:37

This was said to the Virgin Mary concerning the virgin conception of Jesus.

Someone has said, “I have all the time in the world to do the will of God.” This is so true! The problem is that the world hurls far too many unimportant things into our day and convinces us that they must be done now.

An old saying goes, “Only one life will soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

So, what are you and I doing with our lives for the next fifteen years? Will we be doing what we want to do or will we be doing what God has commanded us to do?

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”                      John 14:15

My absolute best friend told me to write this. I am just being obedient.

Your servant, Ike

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Monday, March 05th, 2007 | Author:

I came across an article the other day that deals with the money trail comparing television preachers and the Southern Baptist Convention.

The following is a report on the facts.

The six leading television preachers took in $684,000,000 in the year1986 while the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program giving came in at $635,000,000. That is a lot of money, especially in 1986! Now, where did all that money go? People gave their money expecting that it would be used according to what they said they would use it for.

The six television preachers spent the money paying for television shows, four schools, one hospital, three churches, two ministries to needy children, one to others in need and one home for unwed mothers.

The Southern Baptist Convention spent their money on 52 children’s homes, 48 hospitals including 23 over seas, 67 colleges and universities enrolling 200,000 students, 33 nursing homes or homes for the aged. They also supported 3,756 missionaries in more than 100 foreign countries, 3,637 missionaries in the United States and ministry to students on 1,100 campuses. Besides all that they supported 6 seminaries enrolling one fifth of all seminary students in the country, a television network, the American Christian Television Network (ACTS) which is carried on many cable networks in many cities. Most importantly, every penny is accounted for and they are accountable to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability organization in Washington D. C. Other ministries who are members are Billy Graham and Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship.

Of special interest, NONE of the six television ministries are members. By the way those six television preachers are (remember this was in 1986) Pat Robertson with $176,000,000, Jim Bakker with $172,000,000, Jimmy Swaggart with $142,000,000, Jerry Falwell with $100,000,000, Robert Schuller with $36,000,000 and Oral Roberts with $58,000,000.

Let’s jump ahead just about twenty years and isn’t it interesting how so many of the six crashed and burned because they weren’t accountable to anyone that I know of. The Southern Baptist Convention is going even stronger today.

Here are the current statistics for the SBC.

Through the International Mission Board (www.imb.org), Southern Baptists support approximately 5,036 missionaries who are engaging more than 1,193 different people groups around the world. New churches numbering over 1,725 are planted through the efforts of more than 5,364 North American Missionaries, whose efforts are coordinated through your North American Mission Board (www.namb.net) and individual state conventions.

Working together, Southern Baptists saw 831,725 new believers baptized in 2005!

Six Southern Baptist seminaries (Southern, Southeastern, Midwestern, Southwestern, Golden Gate, and New Orleans) educate in excess of 16,000 pastors, missionaries, and future church leaders each year.*

(All Scripture references are from the NASB. Emphasis added on some verses.) For other articles search www.settingtherecordstraight.org

In my desire to please Him,

Pastor Ike

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