Church Immigration

In our political quagmire, rhetoric has evolved that has added to the division of our Country.  Immigration has been front and center to a continuing volcanic eruption of opinions.  The vacillating of viewpoints has driven our divide into a chasm that widens everyday.  On one side, there are the open arms of acceptance to anyone who wants to be part of this great land.  On the other side are those with folded arms of immigration restraint.  One group conveys an open door way, while the other group offers a door that can only be opened by meeting certain criteria.

Parallel to the political landscape is the Church and its immigration policy.  There are Rev Paul Hoffmasterbasically two viewpoints to the accepting of individuals who are seeking Christian citizenship.  One is an open door policy that offers acceptance to anyone occupying a pew.  The other offers citizenship by the person’s acceptance of Jesus Christ.  The oversimplification of these two approaches has led to a corrupted and ineffective Church.

Our Country is concerned about people entering it who seek to destroy our liberties.  The Church needs to be equally aware of people who are entering the Christian community with the intent to destroy the standards of Biblical integrity.  The attack on Biblical inerrancy is not so much an external challenge as it is an internal threat.  There are those within the Church who have assumed leadership roles with the intent to misdirect the “very elect” on issues that challenge the basic core of Biblical truths.  The open door policy of the Church has been a gateway for “Biblical Terrorist” to enter the confines of the elected.  As we read the Scriptures, we find continual warnings about the internal assaults against the Church, yet we turn a blind eye to its reality.  Until the Church understands what it is facing, perilous times will continue to rock its foundation.

When you look at what has been happening in the Church today, we will readily conclude that something is out of kilter.  Have those who have truly been Born Again suddenly decided to question the authority of God’s Word?  Would they challenge the Bible’s stand on homosexuality?  Would they redefine what constitutes marriage?  Would they condone same sex marriages?  The true Believer would never entertain anything that would question God’s Word.  Who then would pursue such a humanistic approach?

The Bible makes it clear that no one can come to Christ except God draws him.  It is also emphatically clear that no one comes to God except through Jesus Christ.  The drawing is implemented by the Holy Spirit.  The problem is “soul winners” try to do it on their own.  Programs are initiated on how to lead someone to Christ.  The intent is good, but sometimes they supersede the working of the Holy Spirit.  The initial response could be favorable, but in many cases the result of their salvation bares no evidence.  This is also where sheep in wolves clothing can enter the commune of Believers.

Difficult days lie ahead for both the Church and the Country.  As there is a path for those who want to pursue citizenship in the United States, shouldn’t there also be a directive for those interested in being part of the Kingdom of God?  The Church needs to take seriously its role in preparing people for their life changing experience, so when the Holy Spirit presents the Son, they will be prepared to receive Jesus not only as Savior, but also as Lord.

 I am asking that we examine the Scripture and see the warnings that have been issued to the Church.  The sheep in wolves clothing is not something new, but has been revealed throughout the Word.  The Church is facing steady decline of its constituency.  Pew Research just released statistics showing that between 2007 and 2014 there was a drop of almost 8% by those who had identified themselves as Christians.  There is an assault against the Church as well as our Country.  It is time to wake up and realize what is happening.  It is time to draw a definitive line and say enough is enough.  When our Constitution and the Bible are not defended, evil will triumph.  May God help us!

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But there is one thing you lack….(Mark 10:21; NIV)

BLOG – August 26, 2015jStark3

But there is one thing you lack….(Mark 10:21; NIV)

Here is a passage that has a very broad application to major single item issues in our lives. The bible records that a rich young ruler approached Jesus and asked “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The Rich Young Man (Mark 10:17-27; ESV)

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, onethinglooking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

This is not a passage that condemns wealth. Job, Abraham, Jacob, and others in scripture were very wealthy individuals; many camels, sheep, servants… It is about the possessions or in this situation the one possession that keeps us from living a full life with God. I recall a similar situation when preaching at a church many years ago. The preacher was ticking off a list of sins and an elderly lady sitting in the front row was vocally agreeing with each sin he identified. It goes something like this:

There are some here today who need to get certain sins out of their life. There are those here who have wondering eyes (amen mumbled the lady in the front row); those who seek wealth more than God (again she mumbled amen but a bit louder). There are those who cheat (Yes! Amen says the lady now audible to others). There are those who have tempers (Amen; now loud enough for those a few rows back). Some here have not supported the church as they should (now with a bit of a shout… Amen). There are those who have secret sins (Amen). Someone here is a compulsive liar (AMEN ). Someone here is an over-the-fence gossiper. With that the lady in the front row shouts out…”Now you are getting too personal!

It was the one sin for which she felt was excusable and okay since it was her practice in life and unwilling to give it upa gossiper; “there is one thing…“ To keep this story parallel to our passage in Mark, she agreed with hearty amen’s to the other listed wrongs and wasn’t guilty of those other sins (in her opinion that is). But there was one sin she felt was too much to give up and in her opinion was justifiable.

The rich young man in Mark 10 (also found in Luke 18:18-23 & Matthew 19:16-22) asked Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life. There is nothing in any of the passages found in Matthew, Mark or Luke to indicate he was not sincere. He knew Jesus was the Messiah, good teacher, and sent from God. He wanted to be a follower of Christ like the other disciples.

Jesus then listed (v19) a few laws of Judaism (10 Commandments); the young man replies…”all these I have kept since I was a boy (v20; NIV) Then comes the zinger; the point we all need to consider in our personal lives, worship, and faithfulness to our salvation. In verse 21 Jesus looks (emblepō; to fix one’s eye upon) him in the eyes and says… “One thing you lack,” (v21a; NIV) “go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven. Then, come and follow me.”

Note that Jesus didn’t tell him that he would never again have treasures or that he would no longer possess wealth. Jesus told him… “you will have treasures in heaven.” The word ‘treasures’ in the Greek is thēsauros; a coffer, box, or storehouse in which valuable things are deposited/stored. By deduction this suggests that his exchange of wealth on earth is but a deposit box for the wealth he would have in the storehouse of God in heaven.

Like the amen-lady in the story told on page one of this article, he was unwilling to “give up that one thing” that was too close to his heart; she: gossiping; him: wealth. It isn’t like he sacrificed much to live within the laws of Judaism. We are not told about this other than he has upheld these laws since a bay. This obedience to the laws made him a recognized, respected and good man in Jewish society and culture. This goodness is a given in his life since childhood. He sincerely wanted to follow Jesus, but on his own terms; willing to follow but wanted to keep one hand on his earthly security of treasures or desires. He was not willing to empty his earthly coffer of one particular thing in order to follow Jesus Christ; One thing you lack.

It isn’t a matter of giving up wealth or any one-thing, but it is a position or attitude of the heart. We can be more sincere than the pastor or leadership of a great or small church yet still covet one thing in life that seems too much to give up so Christ can completely fill and fulfill our life on earth. Maybe that one thing is telling an exaggerated story, a lustful eye, watching questionable movies, that drink that takes us to the red-eye of the wine, unwillingness to share in and nurture the growth of a child (Greek: pahee-dee’-on; a child or immature Christian), bear false stories, gossip, adultery, not giving due honor to those who deserve it whether it is earned or not, speeding, etc.

We should make a ‘study-note’ that in this situation it is but an example of other one-things we are not willing to surrender in order to follow God. Buying into political correctness does not assure it is correct with God just as is looking past evils, speeding, filing almost correct taxes, the white lie, not using our spiritual gift in church, and the like. Not leaving a tip worthy of being called a tip at a restaurant is NOT a sin but is politically incorrect, anti-culture and it is being judgmental or perhaps selfish. I have seldom met a wealthy waiter or waitress; often: the poor.

Before we are tempted to use this opportunity to begin staring in the face of incorrect political correctness go back to v21; ”Jesus looked at him and loved him.” This is agapaō love. It means Jesus loved him. I found this definition of two types of love:

There are generally two types of love spoken about in our New Covenant. The first is the Greek word phileō; it means a brotherly love, to be a friend, to have affection for. This is the most common type of love that we experience in this world and it’s an emotional love that occurs in almost every person to some degree. Whether they’re saved or unsaved, the average person today readily has this phileō, this emotional type of love within them.

The other Greek word for love is agape (ah-gah-pay) and sometimes agapaō. This is a much rarer type of love that only comes from our Father in Heaven through His Son Jesus Christ. Agape / agapaō love is the love of Jesus shining forth from his and our heart. It’s that divine love that’s related to being obedient to God’s Word. (John 14:23) Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves (agape) me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love (agape) him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

The wealthy young ruler desired to follow Christ and Jesus loved (agape/agopao) him; not for his willingness but for his being a person for whom Jesus Christ was soon to die on Calvary and pay the debt of sin. “For God so loved the (entire ) world that he gave his only begotten son.”(emphasis mine). Here in the life of the rich young man seeking to follow Jesus on earth, we have a very familiar phrase that is often used by God the Father and his son Jesus Christ when making a promise or covenant. It goes like this; If you_________, then I (God-head) will ______________. In the case of this young man, it was a matter of giving up, not an easily identified sin, but something that he held more personal and of value than a fulfilled walk with Jesus. It was not the wealth, but his unwillingness to give up the “ONE THING” that kept him from Christ fulfilling His plan for his life… ours too.

Does the reader of this blog have just one inner secret of issue in life that keeps him or her from a closer walk with Christ? If there is, it is _(confidential)______                              _____________________ ?

Dead or Alive

Paul Hoffmaster

Paul Hoffmaster

Understanding what happens to us at our spiritual rebirth is so shrouded by traditional teaching that its reality fails to make an impact on our lives.  To many new converts, the “rebirth” experience is treated as an extension of who they are instead of what they have become.   They then begin a journey of learning how to fit this new experience into their lives.  They learn to use different words and behaviors.  They acquire an early interest in the Bible.  Going to church becomes a weekly routine.  They learn to talk to God through different techniques and routines.  If someone would ask them if they were a Believer, they would answer with an affirmative gesture or verbal affirmation.  They say the right words and exhibit the predetermined behavioral patterns of a “born again” individual, but sadly, what is seen is simply a cleaned up sinner.  We must realize it is not the merging of two lives, but the losing of one life and the receiving of a new life.  It is not just asking Jesus to come into our heart, but a receiving of a new heart.  It is not only cleaning up our vocabulary, but learning a whole new language.  It is not forming a renewed life, but being transformed into the life of Christ.  It is not struggling to understand God, it is knowing Him.  It is not going to church, it is being the Church.  It is not seeking the things of the world, but setting our affections on the things of the Kingdom of God.  It is not a makeover, but a new creation.  It is not a renewal, but a new life.

For many years I have tried to understand how the Church has become so much like the world.  I have seen Believers acting so unbiblical.  Instead of seeing the Fruit of the Spirit flourishing from us, we exhibit characteristics of the old life.  Many Christians go to their places of worship and act super-spiritual, but when the service is over, we change back into our resurrected old creature.  If we really understood our position in Christ, our Country would be a Christian nation!

Many Christians have not been taught correctly.  What we receive from Christian leadership is preaching and teaching that caters to what people want to hear, instead of what they need to hear.  Much of Christian instruction centers on making teachings palpable and fitting for the hearer’s lifestyle.  Experiencing rebirth is more than just saying a few words; it is a total sacrificing of oneself.  It is going to the cross with Jesus and dying to self.  It is being buried with Him.  It is being resurrected with Him.  It is ascending into the Throne Room of God and sitting with Him.  I challenge every Believer to go to the Scripture and see the Truth that has failed to be taught!

What I have been describing is from our spirit’s perspective.  What we need is to get our mind to accept the reality of this rebirth.  Our spirit seeks the things above, while our mind seeks the things below.  Whichever is given more attention will dominate.  Our body will then display or carry out the wishes of either the spirit or mind.  The reason the Church is so powerless in combating the assault against its foundation is because we have not reckoned ourselves as dead but alive to our Creator.  We are in the world, but not of the world.  Yet, we act like the world in so many ways.  The reason so many Christian leaders fail morally is they have let their minds override their spirits.  When that happens, the body exhibits the results.  In the New Testament, the mystery of the Gospel was revealed by the open invitation to the non-Jews.  From Calvary on, the salvation message was offered to the “whosoevers.”  Today, there is another mystery that has been so carefully hidden under contemporary preaching: many Christians only know how to display the form of Godliness. The power of the Gospel is revealed through the understanding that the real power comes from a born-again experience.  The only way to achieve that power is the death of oneself.  This is the mystery revealed!

ARE WE FUELING THE FIRE?

Paul Hoffmaster

Paul Hoffmaster

What has happened to the Body of Christ? The Church was once the most respected organization in our Country. Its people were from every walk of life: from the factory worker to the politician, from the unemployed to the employed, from the poor to the rich, from sport personalities to leaders in the entertainment industry, from the uneducated to the highly educated; they were all a part of the Body of Christ. There was no embarrassment to being an active member of the Church. No one was ashamed to share their inner joy with a “whosoever.” The Gospel was shared from schools to places of employment, from playgrounds to political edifices. The message from the Christian is a new and living way to experience life. Christians share their faith with a gentleness and excitement that would not offend their hearers. They are living example of what an abundant life is all about. The Bible is the life manual that contains the answers to the challenges that life might throw their way.

Today, so many Believers have become militant and offensive. Instead of presenting love to the spiritually challenged and ignorant, there is a resolve to attack “the enemies” misguided ways. Instead of reaching out with an olive branch from Gethsemane, we have displayed a two-edged tongue that gives two different messages. Instead of sharing the Truth with Grace, we judge others with the Law and intolerance. One of the reasons I am not a fan of the social media is because many Christians are using that as a tool of division. As the media has become the avenue of promoting the ISIS news, the Lord’s army is using the social media to promote what Satan’s army is doing! When the Christians revert to counterattacks, we have lost our true perspective.

The question the Church needs to ask itself is what is our objective in countering the challenges against the Body of Christ? Is it to lead people to the answer, or is it to destroy the enemy? Is it to challenge their negative statements and actions, or is it to neutralize their attacks with positive examples of the loved of God? Is it to defend the Faith, or expand the Faith? So many Christians gather incorrect facts from the internet and pass it on as truth. If they have read it or heard it from the print or airwaves, it must be right! To me, the greatest damage to the Kingdom of God has been from within the Church. When Christians stop judging and condemning and start loving and commending, we will once again become the people God has called us to be!

The Church is not called to punish the non-believers, but tostop judging . Much of what we see happening in America is a result of factual ignorance. Satan has blinded the eyes of so many to the Truth that all they see are things through their senses. Instead of picketing for the Kingdom of God, let us display the Kingdom that is within us. Instead of promoting Kingdom of God, let us share what is right with America! Instead of berating those who oppose our beliefs, let us demonstrate to them what a true Believer is like! The more we exhibit a Christ like behavior, the greater the opportunity to reach those of the world.

The Bible tells us that we are to be an example to the world by “…word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (I Timothy 4:12) We are called to show others our lives with “meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13) The Bible says as we show our good works, the world will see and will be drawn to God. (I Peter 2:12) Are we building the Kingdom of God or fueling the fire of adversity? Are we a part of the answer or are we magnifying the problem?