The next 5 posts are 5 chapters from the devotional I wrote titled, “Retweeting Jesus”. I hope you are challenged and encouraged by each chapter. These 5 posts are about the “tweet-able” phrases that Jesus spoke while being crucified. I pray that you draw closer to the Lord throughout this week as we prepare for celebrating His resurrection on Sunday! Have a Holy Easter.
It has hit the Christendom fan. World Vision, a self declared Christian Ministry, publicly came out with a position saying that as a Christian Organization they have decided to leave the “theology” up to the Church and they are going to hire people who are openly living outside the guidelines of the Bible. They have specifically created a policy saying that it is okay for their Christian Organization to hire people in a Same Sex marriage to be on their leadership team of their Christian organization. Let’s dialogue about all this…
I first want to say… I hope that these posts will be studied and accepted by all people living in any situation or circumstance as posts of love, directness, and based from a Bible perspective. I personally have friends from most walks of life and life-styles and I believe they know me to be a person who is not judgmental, but as very direct and truthful.
We have to have this discussion without someone throwing the stupid “judgmental christian” card…these issues are of utmost importance that have eternal consequences. Let’s be direct with each other, but loving and seeking truth. We have to have these discussions. We have to seek the Truth.
I want to address the issues that World Vision’s decision has uncovered and stirred up. There are many. This blog will be split up into many separate blogs. I know this material will be long…but I am confident that it will be content that is worth your time. I also want to say that I am doing everything I can to type this in an attitude of love, directness, and minus my personal opinion as much as possible. I want the Bible to be my foundation for this whole series of blog posts.
LET’S GET STARTED…
The arguments that have been stirred by World Vision should not be just about homosexuality and/or same sex marriage. Some want to make World Vision’s decision to be about that…but I want to be clear…
This post is about sin of any kind and it’s mixing with Spiritual Leadership of any kind.
FIRST…World Vision said that they want to leave Theology up to the local Church. Here in lies the problem with World Vision…they have been led to believe that the local Church is a Top Down power structure that has a piece of property and a building, usually with a steeple, that people gather in, typically on Sundays, and that is called…The Church.
This idea is a worldly-developed idea from the Corporate world that has crept into the Church. This mentality has caused even Pastors and others to believe and teach that there are Para Church Organizations and Missions Organizations and then there is the Church….They teach, “The Church” is the one that you drive to on Sundays to sing, take an offering, listen to a message, go home and do it again next Sunday.
Q: Where in the Bible do we have this kind of teaching and segregation? A: It’s not in the Bible.
There are no “Para Church” Organizations in the Bible. Shame on us for separating/creating them. There are no 501 c 3 organizations in the Bible. There are no missions organizations in the Bible. Not for Profits…etc.
The Bible says, that those who are followers of Jesus Christ as Lord, are the Body of our God. Period. The Body of Jesus IS THE CHURCH and again…He is the head! (READ 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 for details on this)
Jesus is the head and everyone of us make up the other “body” parts of the Church. We all have different gifts and changing gifts and strengths. It is shameful that we as the Church have divided our Church body into Church / Para Church / Missions Orgs / Not for Profits / etc. It has gotten so out of hand that different parts of Jesus’ Body get different accountability standards. ie…this wrong system has created double standards where Church boards hold mission organizations to standards that they don’t even follow themselves. They created organizations that measure how these”mission orgs” spend their money. Charity Navigator is one example that has been created. This system sticks it to the “missions orgs” and what is commonly called “The Church” get’s a free pass. The Corporate Church board says that “missions orgs” really shouldn’t be spending more than 5% of their budget on Administrative/management costs while they themselves spend upwards to 50% to 60% or more on their administrative costs in what they call their local churches. (I have been a Sr. Pastor in what is commonly called the Church, and I am now as they call it, a missions leader…I know first hand what the standards are from both perspectives.) WE as the Church today, have taken on a Corporate structure and called it church, and we believe that the para-church organization…doesn’t even have to live according to Jesus’s standards, because it’s Para Church…or Missions…or Not for profit. Thus…Richard Stearns says, “We are going to leave the theology up to the Church.” Is he thinking he has a free pass on honoring the Bible, because somewhere along the way, he believes he and World Vision are not the Church?
We are ALL…THE Church! The Biblical Standards are the same all across the board. The Church is anybody CONNECTED to the Head…Jesus The Christ…The King. The Church is anybody declaring Jesus as Lord of their life and live as the King has commanded.
Richard Stearns’s declaration that World Vision is leaving the theology stuff up to the Church…is crazy wrong. Since when did “The Church” get to say or designate what the standards of Jesus are? SINCE NEVER! Jesus sets the standards and had them recorded in the Bible. The Bible says what the standards of Jesus are and the Church is either in sin or not in sin as they obey/disobey the standards of Jesus recorded in God’s Word…The Holy Bible! The Church, the public, popular vote, governments, individuals can’t change Jesus’s standards…ever.
So…THERE IS ONLY BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY…aka..The Church!
There should not be any segregation of the Church into para church, missions orgs, Not for Profit orgs, Religious Orgs, Denominations, etc…NO…WE ARE ALL THE CHURCH, ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE. Please do not let the world’s corporate structure, that has been forced on Christianity, deceive you into thinking they are all different. It’s all the Church. It is all Christianity.
WE ARE ALL THE CHURCH! When we all…individually…stand before Jesus someday for Judgment…Mr. Richard Stearns of World Vision…you will not be able to say to Jesus…“Um, Jesus…I left the theology up to the Church…Um, Jesus…some in the “Church” said that it is okay to ignore that commandment of Yours. Um, Jesus, that Church group over there didn’t follow that command of yours, so I assumed it was okay for me too…”
Do you get my point? One on One with Jesus is where you and I will be someday. You and I cannot blame anyone for our decisions. It will be You and Jesus at that point…and like it or not…if you say you are a follower of Jesus…YOU ARE THE CHURCH! The above paragraph is not just written to Richard Stearns…it is the same truth for me and you. You will be held accountable for the Truths and the Standards that are written in God’s Word…The Bible. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does or tells you to do…only you will be accountable for the truth and standards that Jesus gave us in The Holy Bible.
Before this first part of this blog post finishes…I do want to add this. There are LEVELS OF JUDGEMENT coming when Jesus returns.
There will be those who are not teachers and leaders of Christianity who get one level of Judgment from Jesus. And then…
There will be those who are judged with even more strictness….these are the Teachers and Leaders of Christianity.
James 3:1 in The Holy Bible says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
It’s a very dangerous thing to lead, teach, or be on staff in Christianity…whether that Church be called World Vision, The Salvation Army, The YMCA, ReturnHope International, or your local congregation on the street corner with a steeple. We will all be held accountable for our spiritual leadership in Christianity…THE CHURCH….Individually.
World Vision is pretty much saying anybody can lead and teach in Christianity and leadership within a Christian organization…no matter their life choices…but have they considered the warnings of James 3:1?
Thus…part 2 post…coming soon…
The greatest injustice of all, would be having a world full of well fed men, women, and children with no disease, fresh water to drink, a rich supply of clean clothes, every orphan and widow provided for, yet all of these cared for people, still facing a reality in Hell because we didn’t give them Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives.
That is the ultimate injustice. That would be the greatest trick of the devil. To have all this good work take place, but none of it matter eternally for those who were cared for.
ReturnHope wants to do something about this “greatest injustice.” However, this injustice can only be conquered by using a specific strategy that will impact not only women and children eternally…but men too.
It seems to me that there is a lot of ministry taking place around the world. Good ministry work. It seems most of this good ministry work is focused on the care of the women and children. I haven’t met anybody who is okay with watching women and children suffering. But if we want to solve the problems of the world…it is going to have to be through the changing of the lives of men all around the world too. Let’s admit it. Men cause war. Men have testosterone. Men are the muscle of the world. World problems are caused on a majority basis…by men. Change the men…change the world! Change the men…and women and children will be blessed too.
Injustices can only be fully conquered when the man is impacted along with the entire family for Jesus Christ as Lord.
ReturnHope wants to take on the impossible task of being used by God to change the hearts and minds of the men of our world and turn those hearts and mind towards the Lord Jesus. In this endeavor, think of how blessed the women and children of the world would be too!
In the American Church…there is a comparable man problem that relates to my point. If your Church reaches the mom of the family, the mom and kids will become the church, but the man of the family, more than likely, will stay home and not become the church and miss out on the growth opportunities that being the church creates. If the kids are reached, then mom will likely join the church too, but dad will end up staying home. What this creates is a frustrated mom and child(ren) because the heavy influence of unchurched dad outweighs the influence of the church on the mom and kids. (One hour of Church added with another 2 hours of small group influence for the mom and kids cannot compete with the other 168 hours of the week controlled by unchurched dad’s influence.) So, a church that aims to reach the man for Christ, can be confident that mom and the kids are highly likely to come too. It’s a whole family philosophy of how to design a strategy of the church…and the same should be for a world mission’s strategy!
The last 15 years of my life I have been privileged to travel to places like Peru South America, Uganda Africa, Jerusalem Israel and other amazing places. In these locations, I’ve encountered injustices that are ruling that culture. The same cause is evident in all these locations. The cause is… men aren’t leading or being impacted by the good news of Jesus Christ. Men are not being partnered with, or challenged to become responsible to their God given purpose to work, provide and steward the family that He gave them. Men seem to have been given up on, and I think, that is a perpetuator of injustices.
So much good work is being done around the world towards the injustices of lack of clean water, nakedness, lack of shelter, disease, orphan and widow-hood. A majority of this good work is being focused on the women and children. Now, understandably, it is a very good thing to help the women and children. ReturnHope International is going to do a lot of ministry for women and children everywhere…But…I beg of all people involved in the family of ReturnHope to be focused on being used by God to change the lives of the men of the villages around the world too. As we do all our work, I beg of the ReturnHope family to always be thinking about how our work is being perceived by the man of the family, or the men of the village we are impacting. If we are not careful we can easily create welfare situations where women and children become dependent on the American difference maker. Please Lord, don’t allow ReturnHope difference makers to mistakenly fill the position of the man of the family in the foreign culture! We want the native man to step up into his God designed role for him to be the provider and care taker of the family that God asked him to steward. As we do our work for women and children, let’s never stop thinking about the man and how our work might be affecting his heart, mind and self esteem. Let’s involve the man by walking alongside him as we do good work together for women and children!
We must go after the grown men too.
This is an impossible task. This is a task where we must begin by only praying and planning and then moving forward with what will be trial by fire. Chuck Swindoll said that when there is an impossible task that needs to be tackled, He will find an impossible person…crush them…and then use them to take on the impossible task. I’ve been told by quite a few that, “I’m impossible!” 🙂 The last 3 years, God has been crushing me and allowing me to be crushed by others. (I wrote about this on this blog site if you’d like to read it…click the following links…its two part and its called “The Crushing part 1” and then “The Crushing part 2”) I believe God has allowed this crushing to bring me to the point of right here..right now. He is asking me to take on the leadership of ReturnHope and team with you to use our talents to begin this impossible ministry. I imagine that when this life is over…our efforts will have been fully worth it…whether we failed or succeeded. Let’s spend the rest of our lives in this pursuit and then we’ll do high fives together about it all in eternity together…red, yellow, black, brown and white….male and female!!
Please start praying with me about our first encounter with a group of village men in Uganda. These men will be sitting in a big circle most of the day in a distant village. In the middle of the circle will be a large bowl of home made alcohol. Each man in the circle will have a long straw that reaches from the bowl to his mouth. This drinking begins in the morning and goes all day. At night…well…this is when evil reigns. These men in their drunken state rape their wives and abuse their daughters, beat their kids and fuel injustices towards total hopelessness….does this cause you to hate them? If so, then I ask you to pray for them and change your heart towards them. The men in this picture are only doing what they have been taught by their fathers, who were taught by their fathers… Pray that ReturnHope will break this vicious cycle by also reaching the men sitting in these circles. What is exciting for me is to explain to you what you cannot see in this picture. All around this picture are groups of other men who are not drinking and being responsible, groups of women singing and playing with their children and/or cooking lunch or dinner. Children are playing soccer or climbing in the trees and they all want to know you, and spend time with you. On every trip ReturnHope goes on, you will be able to choose which group you want to get involved with and interact with. It is truly an amazing adventure and trip that will change your life.
ReturnHope has a man on the ground in Uganda right now who is scouting out our very first village. We will enter this village by providing a fresh water well (Money is already raised for this well!) and beginning a relationship with the village leaders…the men, and also the women and children! The date isn’t set yet, but we are getting ready to go! I personally am going to be working on the men of the village. ReturnHope will need people who want to do good in the villages for the other people all around the village too. My gut tells me that this first trip might be more spontaneous that most of you are prepared for, but that is just a hard reality of the first trip ReturnHope takes. Once the first trip is complete, we will be able to plan ahead a bit more!
In the mean time I am asking you to pray specifically for the men we will encounter in this first village. Please pray frequently, so that when we arrive and meet these men, they will have been prayed for by hundreds of you…Hopefully thousands of you. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will help us pick God’s first circle of men that He wants us to influence. Pray that these men’s hearts will be prepared for our encounter. Pray for a man in the village who is a pastor who ReturnHope will equip with material and training to be even more impactful in his ministry work for the Lord. Pray that as we encounter these men, they will give their lives to Jesus and accept the challenge to work alongside us to conquer the injustices they face in their own villages and country! We as Americans cannot do the work ourselves, we must walk alongside the foreigner and team with them. We must be learners alongside them as we teach each other.
This will not be a one time encounter. When we enter a village, we enter into a life long covenant and relationship with the people of the village. We will return on occasion to continue with these villagers as our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ who someday will live lives that are not controlled by injustices. The relationships that we build with these men, women, and children will last an eternity. We will all impact one another in a mighty way. It really is a beautiful picture of returning hope to one another. I believe it is what God intended for the Body of Christ to be…aka…The Church.
Every time you eat…I’m asking that you would pause and pray for this endeavor. When you read your Bibles, pray again. When you meet for your Bible study, ask the group to pray specifically for our success in impacting this first village of men, women and children that we encounter.
Again, we (you & me — ReturnHope) are beginning in Uganda Africa. As soon as we pick our first village…I will inform you of its name and location and when we are planning on leading a group over! Our trips will consist of impacting Men, Women and Children. I will give updates all along the way. I pray that you will share this post with the people in your life who are looking for a purpose to get involved in that lasts eternally!
Will you pray everyday about all of this? Will you go with us over there?
It has begun.
Let’s ReturnHope to places that are imprisoned by hopelessness…and then ask them to pay it forward by returning hope to others too!
What a cool and challenging adventure!