Christianity 201

March 3, 2018

Can Any Christian Do Deliverance Ministry or is it a Specialized Gifting?

This is a question which came up today and I thought I’d share it with you, as this is a topic which, outside of Charismatic and Pentecostal environments, is not discussed among Evangelicals.

The issue is whether or not ‘the average Christian’ when in a situation of spiritual confrontation can move in the power of the Holy Spirit, or if they need to retreat and defer to ‘the experts’ in this area of ministry. An analogy to the movie Ghostbusters, while rather distracting, is not entirely out of place here. Who are you gonna call?

Before we begin, an important question to ask is, ‘Does the person seek healing and deliverance?’ If the person who needs Christ doesn’t particular want Christ’s help — and I’ve met people on both sides of this equation — then you’re possible going to proceed differently.

Another clarification needs to be made between deliverance ministry and spiritual warfare, something we looked at here in January, 2014:

The difference between deliverance and spiritual warfare is that deliverance is dealing with demonic bondages, and getting a person set free, whereas spiritual warfare is resisting, overcoming and defeating the enemy’s lies (in the form of deception, temptations and accusations) that he sends our way. Deliverance involves the breaking up of legal grounds, the tearing down of strongholds (offensive spiritual warfare), and the casting out of demons. Spiritual warfare on the other hand, is dealing with three key things the enemy sends at us: temptations, deception and accusations.

So we need to keep that distinction in mind as we proceed.

Deliverance is certainly similar to the supernatural gifts of the spirit in 1 Cor. 12, yet it is not one of them; of the nine listed, see especially these:

The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles… (12:9-10a)

This certainly gives the believer confidence that part of our ministry can include operating in the supernatural realm. Also, bringing relief to those in need was part of Christ’s mandate as shown in Luke 4:18 (AMP):

The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity]

and then he tells us (John 14:12-13)

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

In Luke chapter 10, Jesus sends out the 72 disciples and then we read in vs. 17:

When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!”

The tone of the verse suggests a bit of surprise on the part of these short-term missionaries, but also implies something which came naturally or organically because of their connection to Jesus. We get this sense two verses later in 19-20:

[Jesus:] “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

While the last half of the 16th chapter of Mark has been disputed because of manuscript corroboration, it is there we find a ‘spiritual power package’ of instructions including verse 17:

These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages.

You have the authority. So why have we relegated deliverance ministry to being a the purview of a very select few?

It might be that this passage brings with it the potential for deliverance ministry failure:

Mark 9.17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

19a Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you?…

25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil  spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”…

28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?”

29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.

The Pulpit Commentary elaborates:

Though all things are possible to faith, some works are more difficult of accomplishment than others. This kind can mean only this kind of evil spirit, or demons generally. But the latter interpretation is excluded by the fact that the apostles had already exercised successfully their power over devils without special prayer or fasting. The words point to a truth in the spiritual world, that there are different degrees in the Satanic hierarchy (comp. Matthew 12:45); some demons are more malignant than others, and have greater power over the souls of men. In the present case the possession was of long standing; it revolved a terrible bodily malady; it was of an intense and unusual character. The mere word of exorcism, or the name of Jesus, spoken with little spiritual faith, could net overcome the mighty enemy. The exorcist needed special preparation; he must inspire and augment his faith by prayer and self-discipline. Prayer invokes the aid of God, and puts one’s self unreservedly in his hands; fasting subdues the flesh, arouses the soul’s energies, brings into exercise the higher parts of man’s nature. Thus equipped, a man is open to receive power from on high, and can quell the assaults of the evil one. (emphasis added)

Elliott’s Commentary adds:

The disciples, we know, did not as yet fast (Matthew 9:14-15), and the facts imply that they had been weak and remiss in prayer. The words are noticeable as testifying to the real ground and motive for “fasting,” and to the gain for the higher life to be obtained, when it was accompanied by true prayer, by this act of conquest over the lower nature.

or perhaps this passage from Matthew is in the back of someone’s mind:

17.14b A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”

17 Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.

19 Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?”

20 “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.

We often refer to the website, Some non-Pentecostals or non-Charismatics downplay the need for this as a specialized ministry. Since you’ll find this thinking online in various places, here is a sample from their site:

…The Gospels and Acts relate that Jesus and the disciples cast out demons. The teaching portions of the New Testament (Romans through Jude) refer to demonic activity yet do not discuss the method of casting them out, nor are believers exhorted to do so. We are told to put on the whole armor of God…

…The Gospels and Acts relate that Jesus and the disciples cast out demons. The teaching portions of the New Testament (Romans through Jude) refer to demonic activity yet do not discuss the method of casting them out, nor are believers exhorted to do so…

…It is interesting that we have no record of Jesus’ instructions to His disciples on how to cast out demons…[and then the commentary goes on to list a rather significant number of ‘exceptions.’ Hmmm…]

Did we answer the question at the top of the page?

I think the issue here is not the office or title of the person rebuking the evil spirits, but rather the preparation of the person entering into such a ministry.

Of course, some situations are extremely short notice. We don’t know exactly when we might find ourselves seeing or being part of a direct demonic confrontation. I believe in those situations, a person who has heard God’s word on this subject, and is thereby aware of the powers that exist should resolve to act in whatever timely opportunity is available. (But I also believe God will give you some foreknowledge to be prepared to do so.)

In other parts of the world, I’m told that demonic activity is much more acute; much more visible. People in those situations don’t need to be told what they’re dealing with, they see its effects.

So the answer is both: It is a ministry that is the specialty of some pastors and Christian leaders, but it is also within the reach of any Christ-follower who has prepared themselves for the task.

Do you want to take this on?

It’s definitely worth remembering that the seventy-two were sent out in pairs. That might be a better way to apprentice in this type of ministry.

In any deliverance situation, there’s also the issue of providing ‘filling’ to someone whose ‘casting out’ of something has created a void or a whole. In Matthew we read the words of Jesus,

12.43 “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. 45 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”

There are some good resources online on this topic, be discerning as you search however, and recognize that there are differences of opinion on this issues from different theological traditions.

Scriptures today were all NLT (just because) except where indicated.






April 23, 2016

Why Stop at Just Casting Out Demons?

NIrV: Matthew 8:30 Not very far away, a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

32 Jesus said to them, “Go!” So the demons came out of the men and went into the pigs.

NIrV Matthew 8:43 “What happens when an evil spirit comes out of a person? It goes through dry areas looking for a place to rest. But it doesn’t find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives there, it finds the house empty. The house has been swept clean and put in order. 45 Then the evil spirit goes and takes with it seven other spirits more evil than itself. They go in and live there. That person is worse off than before. That is how it will be with the evil people of today.”

If you can cast them out, why not totally annihilate them? Today we return to the writing of pastor, author and Bible translator Christopher R. Smith at the blog Good Question. Due to changes in his life, he is no longer updating this blog, but the resources remain available, presented in a Q&A format. Click the title below to link to this one directly:

Why didn’t Jesus destroy demons when he cast them out?

Q. In any of the situations where Jesus cast out demons, why didn’t he kill them so they would not enter another person?

Matthew’s gospel relates how, when Jesus was casting out demons in the region of the Gadarenes, they cried out, “Son of God, what do you want with us? Have you come here to punish us before the time for us to be judged?” The encounters between Jesus and demons described in the gospels are typically brief and cryptic, but we can at least tell from this one that God has set a time for demons to be judged and punished. But as these demons knew, that time had not yet come during the ministry of Jesus, and they successfully appealed to be sent into a herd of pigs instead.

destroying demonsThe reasons why Jesus allowed such demons to continue to roam the earth, at least for a while, have to do, I believe, with the need for there to be freedom in order for people to make the choice to love God and others. God could have removed all sources of suffering and discord in the world, but this would have been at the cost of making true freedom impossible and depriving the world of the fruits of freedom, including love, courage, creativity, and so forth.

One of Jesus’ parables shows how God wanted people to respond instead to the fact that demons remained at large even after they had been cast out of their victims.  Jesus said, “What happens when an evil spirit comes out of a person? It goes through dry areas looking for a place to rest. But it doesn’t find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives there, it finds the house empty. The house has been swept clean and put in order. Then the evil spirit goes and takes with it seven other spirits more evil than itself. They go in and live there. That person is worse off than before.”

Jesus actually told this parable about his own generation as a whole, to illustrate how, by rejecting his true message of the kingdom of God, they were leaving themselves open to the influence of false messiahs who would lead them astray into destruction.  (This happened during the two Jewish-Roman wars in the decades that followed.) But for the parable to make this point by application, its story needs to make a valid point of its own, and that is that people who have been freed from a demon are responsible themselves to fill their lives with godly and wholesome influences that will discourage any demons from ever returning.

In other words, while Jesus didn’t destroy the demons he cast out, he brought the truth of the kingdom of God, and ultimately he sent the Holy Spirit, to occupy the place the demons had left so that they would never try to fill it again.  And I think this is how we need to think about all of the evil and destructive influences around us as we live in these “in-between times,” when the kingdom of God has already been inaugurated but not yet completely established.  God has not yet removed all these influences from the earth.  But he has sent other influences that can effectively displace them in our own lives, and increasingly in our world, if we recognize and accept our responsibility to welcome and cultivate these life-giving endowments.


January 23, 2014

True and False Prophets

I was well into preparing yesterday’s message when I came across this article by Isaac Guiterrez. At first I wanted to just run the link as a postscript, but then I decided everyone should see the whole article. This appeared at the blog of Enduring Faith Ministries and I encourage you to read this at source and then look around at other subjects covered.

Today,we continue our series of articles on “Understanding the Last Days”. I want to direct our focus on what the Word of God says about knowing how to recognize true and false prophets. There are many claiming to be prophets of God. One of the major factors that has plagued the church is the abuse and misuse of prophecy. Some has used it for fame and riches and others have used it for their own benefits.

How many self-proclaimed prophets are out there? In my years of ministry I’ve seen many. They all believe that they have been called of God to bring a word of correction and judgment to the church.  I walked also strongly in the prophetic but I used it wrongly. I brought judgement instead of edification. Well God had to humble me by taking out of ministry for some time. Just recently I’ve been receiving invitations to come back to the church to bring the ministry of prophetic evangelism to the local churches. What I learned as helped me understand how prophecy is to be handled. Praise God because I have a new revelation not just head knowledge of the prophetic. It’s time that we walk in building others up. God must send you before you run out on your own and became a prophet to the church. We have to many loose cannon prophets.

In  Jeremiah’s time they were so called prophets of God but they were not sent by God.

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel And had caused My people to hear My words, Then they would have turned them from their evil way And from the evil of their doings. Jeremiah 32:21-22

As you continue to read this chapter you find out that God is not at all pleased with false prophets.

Jesus warned of false prophets. This is one of the reasons it is important for us to recognize a true prophet, so we can then recognize a false prophet.

 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. (Mark 13:5-6)

If the prophecy does not point toward or lead to God, if it does not uplift Jesus, then the source is not from God and is false.

True Prophecy testifies of Jesus Christ

Revelation 19:10  And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Jesus is the spirit of prophecy

 But what about the prophets who say that they have been called of God but answer to no one?

 Our our day and age there are many people going around proclaiming they are prophets of God and believe they can only hear from God and have no accountability to any spiritual leader, ministry, or organization.  Many people are following the word of these prophets only.  Here are some questions to consider when someone is prophesying:

  • Who are they?
  •  To what organizations do they belong? 
  •  Who do they answer to?
  • Is there any way for correction or someone to hold them accountable for their actions?

To me a red flag goes up when a prophet wants to prophesy to me and they haven’t  submitted to spiritual authority. This can lead to serious problems.  Everyone is required to submit to spiritual authority for it keeps us in line and from making oneself a proclaimed prophet.  It is not only dangerous to the prophet but to those who listen to them. Three things that self-proclaimed prophets are in danger of:

  • It angers God
  • It misleads men
  • It divides you within yourself

It takes a revelation from God for someone to realize that they are in rebellion. A great book about understanding spiritual authority is by Watchman Nee.

One of my spiritual leaders gave me this [Spiritual Authority] book and it opened my eyes to understanding spiritual authority and why it is important. It gave me awake up call to the importance of being under the protection of  spiritual authority. Even though I have a ministry of my own, I have a hand full of spiritual leaders that I’m accountable too. They keep me in line, focused, and responsible for what I do. We need to recognize that God put these leaders of spiritual of authority for a reason. To many ministries I seen that operate under no spiritual authority, operate out of their homes, and believe they have been called of God to start a church. If the leader is in rebellion then also the whole congregation is as well.

Where is what Paul the Apostle says:

And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. -1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

I like what the Amplified Bible explains it:

Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [continually recognizing their authority over you], for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account [of their trust]. [Do your part to] let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you [either]. Hebrews 13:17 AMP Bible

A spiritual authority keeps watch over our souls. If we choose to be a parking lot prophet then we open ourselves up to pride.

What is the Office of a Prophet?

The Office of a Prophet still exists though many believe it was done away with in the New Testament.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” Eph. 4:11

This cannot be denied for these offices were given (Eph 4:11) in the NT  and for what reason?: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Eph 4:12).  For the perfecting and edifying of the saints,

Does the church need perfecting and edifying today? Of course we do! This clear Biblical statement goes against and discredits those who say that these special ministries have been done away in the New Testament, it is NOT SO, for both Peter and Paul confirm them in the NT.

So in all essence, prophecy is important to build, encourage, and help us live a Godly and Holy life.

Scriptures on Prophecy

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2Pe 1:20-21)

“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;” (Rom 12:6)

“Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” (1Ti 4:14)

“Pursue love, and seek eagerly the spiritual things, but rather that you may prophesy.” (1Co 14:1) 

“For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1Co 14:31-33)

According to the Word of God, a prophet word or prophecy must be in line with scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit of God and subject to those they are accountable too.

In my experiences I’ve watched and seen as those calling themselves prophets spoke curses, threats, and judgement brought great damage and harm to the body of Christ. That is not the only reasons why God put the prophets in the church.

Prophecy should be pure, accurate, building up your faith, and bringing us closer to walking in holiness and righteousness of Christ.

What does prophecy do in the believer’s life?

  • Prophecy was intended to reveal a message from the True God
  • Prophecy was intended to encourage obedience
  • Prophecy was intended to give hope
  • Prophecy was intended to encourage trust in God

Prophecy was not just intended for certain holy men but it was given to the church to encourage one another. It’s not only a message of the end-times, or doom, or even correction but it’s about building the body of Christ not tearing it down. Prophecy was intended to bring hope and a lead back to Jesus. We need to understand  it more than ever before.

September 21, 2013

Where Cessationists Part Company With The Gospel

Cessationism is the belief that after the apostolic age, the supernatural gifts of the Spirit ceased to operate.  This article is from the blog Internet Monk a few days ago where it appeared as Reconsider Jesus — The Sent Out:

The following is an excerpt from Michael Spencer’s upcoming book: Reconsider Jesus – A fresh look at Jesus from the Gospel of Mark.  This week we are looking at a part of Michael Spencer’s writing and speaking on Mark 6. I accidentally skipped ahead and will be returning to Mark 5 next week.  The material being covered today is on a subject that is important to both my co-editor, Scott Lencke,  and myself:  That is, Spiritual gifts, and their existence today.  In this passage Michael Spencer gives us a taste of some of his own thinking on the matter.  I am hoping that Scott will be able to join us for the discussion in the comments.  Are your views similar?  Quite different?  At Internet Monk a civil discussion is always welcome in the comments.  If you have been thinking at all that you would be interested in purchasing Michael Spencer’s book when it is available, please drop us a note at  The more we get expressions of interest, the more attention we will get from publishers.

Mark 6:7-13

Mark 6:7-13. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. 8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

…It is very significant for me that Jesus empowers his disciples with his own authority, and specifically gives them power over “unclean spirits.” Jesus’ first miracle, according to Mark, was an exorcism, and the battle with the forces of darkness is never far from Mark’s focus. But this passage must be considered in the subject of whether spiritual gifts and ministries continue today, or did they cease when the “apostolic age” came to an end? This issue is the source of a major split among evangelicals and has been a major issue in my own life and ministry. Without getting on a personal soapbox, I can say that issues such as “Are tongues for today?”, “Does God heal today?” and “Should Christians cast out demons today?” have occupied hours and days of my own study and consideration. Is the Bible actually that confusing on these issues? I really don’t think so. In fact, the cessationist position (that all these gifts and experiences ceased with the apostles) may be well intentioned, but it has robbed the church of what Jesus clearly intended to give to his followers.

In the simple words, “he gave them power,” Mark communicates that Jesus intended for his followers to walk in all the power he ministered in and he intended to share his authority with his followers for the purpose of compassionate Kingdom ministry to the oppressed. When cessationists make the apostles into a special group honored by Jesus above other Christians by giving them power and authority, they go well beyond what scripture teaches. It is true that the apostles are mentioned in passages such as Revelation 21:14 and Ephesians 2:20 -”…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone”- in a way that gives them importance within the body of Christ, but these scriptures point to the faithful testimony of the apostles as witnesses of Jesus and the conveyers of the Gospel. Certainly, the New Testament is “Apostolic” in the sense of being written within the circle of the apostles and upon their teaching. Paul mentions the “signs of an apostle” in 2 Corinthians 12:12, but where is the sense that these were exclusive to the apostles or would cease? Paul himself refutes such an idea in I Corinthians 12:4-11, where the manifestation of the Spirit is clearly given to all the body of Christ, as the Lord himself desires. In fact, how does the idea of supernatural ministry being the exclusive domain of the apostles square with I Corinthians 12:28, where miracles and healings are intentionally placed after the ministry of apostles?

Every cessationist I know is frightened by the excesses of the Charismatic/Pentecostal/Third Wave movements. Certainly we ought to be concerned with excess, for it is the work of the devil, discrediting the real. But we ought to be more concerned about a kind of theology that tells the church supernatural means are not available to encounter the powers of evil and the results of sin. Cessationism is the primary culprit in turning the church towards secular and worldly means of doing everything from church growth to pastoral counseling. In some seminaries, secular psychology is accepted with little question, despite its corrupt worldview and self-defining methodology. In many churches, laying on of hands for the sick, anointing with oil or praying against the demonic would get the pastor fired or the church split. Yet, here we have Jesus entrusting his own power and authority to twelve disciples who would hardly be impressive today for their spiritual maturity or wisdom. They simply have faith and are, therefore, empowered for ministry. May God quickly send the day when this will not need to be explained…

August 21, 2012

Qualities Desired for Local Church Leadership

This is part two of a two-part article begun yesterday

There are some attributes that should not be found by people in leadership.

First, they should not be confused. Sounds a bit strange, but there are a lot of people who aren’t ‘set’ or ‘fixed’ or ‘firm’ on key doctrines or matters of responsible Christian ethics. Paul wrote in his first letter to Timothy:

“Some have wandered away from [a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith] and turned to meaningless talk.  They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” (I Tim 1: 6,7)

Second they should not be immature. In the epistle to the Hebrews we read,

“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food.” (Heb. 5:12)

The spiritual leader must desire the deeper things of God. His/her diet should be two-pound prime rib, not two-percent milk.

Third, they should not be inconsistent. Their walk must match their talk. God hates hypocrisy. To echo a verse in Revelation, He would rather we be one thing or the other, but not dabbling in spiritual things and then living an unholy life in the world. James writes,

“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (Jam. 3:1)

So what kind of person is God looking for?

Each one of the above negatives implies a positive:

  • authority
  • maturity
  • consistency

The leader must also have a clear understanding of the role to which he is called.

  • There is the traditional role of Pastor or Missionary
  • There are parachurch organizations which offer the option of service that is linked to particular aspect of ministry (social service, camp ministry, pregnancy centers, counseling, inter-church youth events, Christian radio, Bible translation, medical ministries, Christian school, etc.)
  • There is the bi-vocational route which allows you to serve God while earning income as a secretary, doctor, pilot, printer, shipper, salesperson, etc.
  • Others have a role that is even less defined in a career sense, but participate actively in organizations such as The Gideons, Youth for Christ, Compassion, etc.; or are a Sunday School teacher; or give of themselves to serve on a church board or a committee of a Christian agency or mission organization.

There is also the need for certain, called Christ-followers to take their place in the community as civic or political leaders. Others are called to be creative, cultural innovators in the arts and media. There is a place for Christian engineers, administrators, professors, lawyers, designers and entrepreneurs. The qualities which bring a Christ-centeredness to this work will always be spiritual attributes, not things measured by academic laurels.

But now, we’ve saved the best for the last…

There are two things which God can use more than anything; and they both begin in the heart. With these two qualities, the weakest among us can become effective, fruitful, dynamic leaders.

The first is a compassionate heart.  The desire to lead must be cultivated in an atmosphere filled with a love both for God’s people and the unsaved. The spirit of caring should be instantly recognizable. Although the command to love is given to all disciples, the person in leadership needs a double dose.

The second is a servant’s heart. In the kingdom of God, greatness is achieved only through humility. One gets to be the president of the company only by doing the janitor’s work. Too many people are clamoring to be religious superstars without realizing that in God’s scheme of things, the last often become first, and the foolish often confound the wise.  The spiritual leaders God is most seeking — the ones he really needs — won’t be bestselling authors, recording artists or Christian television celebrities. Discard those aspirations; that’s not spiritual reality.

And if you want to go deeper on leadership, Chapter three of the first letter to Timothy is also full of a number of qualifications for leadership applicable to the New Testament church. All the requirements listed would make good criteria for selecting spiritual leadership.

Going back to yesterday’s post, I certainly don’t want to leave the conclusion that Bible colleges and seminaries are not helpful. For many, it’s a good place to begin, for the spiritual attributes one needs will only be found through intense study of God’s Word.

However, it just might be that there is someone reading this who has never studied theology, philosophy, Biblical Greek or Hebrew; yet you know as you sit comfortably in church week after week that God has a major task for you if you will only submit your availability to Him. You know what it is to experience a restlessness that doesn’t want to settle until you answer that strong feeling that you need to be doing something more. I hope you are encouraged to step up; starting in your local assembly or spiritual community.

There may also be someone reading this who is already in a recognizable position in Christian leadership, but you know deep down that lately you’re merely “playing Church.” It’s become routine; you play your part flawlessly by rote. It’s not too late. Ask God to give you a heart full of compassion that can be poured out in humble service: A compassionate, servant’s heart. That determination will direct you to the actual shape a renewed ministry role will take in your life.

Finally, a word to the young (and young in the faith). Don’t wait. Paul’s first letter to Timothy offers good advice to tomorrow’s Christian leaders:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.  (I Tim: 5:4)


February 19, 2011

The Right Type of Name-Dropping

Here’s a bonus post for today, the first of two.

Carlos Whittaker: 

After standing in a room tonight with a hundred or so AMAZING people who all are “somebody”, I realized again…
It’s not who you know…It’s Who you serve.

At the end of the day it is not about getting “the deal”
At the end of the day it’s not about writing “the song”
At the end of the day it’s not about meeting “the man”
At the end of the day it’s not about your church hitting “that number”
At the end of the day it’s not about speaking at “the conference”
At the end of the day it’s not about writing “the book”
At the end of the day it’s not about losing “those pounds”
At the end of the day it’s not about being invited to “that party”
At the end of the day it’s not about being on “the list”
At the end of the day it’s not about opening for “that band”
At the end of the day it’s not about dating “that girl/guy”
At the end of the day it’s not about hitting “those stats”
At the end of the day it’s not about getting “that award”
At the end of the day it’s not about selling “that number of copies”
At the end of the day it’s not about creating “the perfect sermon series”
At the end of the day it’s not about solving “that problem”
At the end of the day it’s not about preaching “that message”
At the end of the day it’s not about shmoozing “those reps”
At the end of the day it’s not about everyone lifting “those hands”
At the end of the day it’s not about praying “that prayer”

All that crap is just crap.
It does not matter.
It is not your identity.
It will ALL go away.
But what will not go away is that moment that you stopped believing all your self righteous lies and found your identity in Christ alone.
Not the deal, the song, the man, that number, the conference, the book, those pounds, that party, the list, that band, that girl/guy, those stats, that award, that number of copies, the perfect sermon series, that problem, that message, those reps, those hands, or that prayer.

It is about Christ in you the hope of Glory.
So let’s make a deal.
For today, myself included, let’s not drop one name, not unless it’s His.

Carlos Whittaker blogs at Ragamuffin Soul. See this post here, or check out the rest of the blog with this link.