Treated Like the World’s Garbage

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Treated Like the World’s Garbage

1 Corinthians 4:8-13

America today has become a nation of entitlement. This attitude of entitlement has spread like wildfire across our nation. Young people especially have this attitude that they are the smartest and the brightest and should get what they want and be given respect just for showing up. Now, when it comes to young people, this is nothing new. Mark Twain said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” The problem is that now, our 21-year-old people still think like that 14-year-old. Our colleges are perpetuating this phenomenon by telling them they are more educated and smarter than their elders. What does the Bible have to say about this? Job 12:12 says, “Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.” Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.” Over and over the Bible tells us that wisdom comes with age. Of course, in 1 Timothy 4:11, Paul told Timothy, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” But Paul goes on in verse 14 to remind Timothy to remember the prophecies spoken over him by the elders. So, we shouldn’t despise their youth, as long as they are listening to the advice of the elders. Young people have a lot to offer, but they also have a lot to learn.

Paul was dealing with the same problem with the church at Corinth. Not with just the young people, but with the whole church. They thought that, because of their riches, they had arrived. He said in 1 Corinthians 4:8, “You think you already have everything you need. You think you are already rich. You have begun to reign in God’s kingdom without us! I wish you really were reigning already, for then we would be reigning with you.” They were so full of themselves that they thought they were already reigning in God’s kingdom. Doesn’t that sound like some of the TV pastors of today? Paul goes on in verse 9 to say that sometimes it feels like God has put the apostles on display and that they have become spectacles. In verse 10, Paul goes on to say, “Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed”. I have had several online discussions with young people lately, and that is the attitude they seem to have. Because I am dedicated to Christ, and not their religious views, I am a fool. They feel that I am weak, and they are powerful; they are honored, and I am ridiculed because I don’t follow the popular narrative.

In verse 11, Paul talks about them thinking themselves better than him because he had gone hungry, thirsty, not having enough clothes to keep him warm, and being beaten. But what did Paul tell Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12? He said, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Did you catch that? EVERYONE who wants to live a godly life WILL be persecuted! EVERYONE! So, if they weren’t suffering the type of persecution that Paul was, it wasn’t because they were superior to him, it was because they weren’t living godly lives.

In verse 12, Paul says something interesting. In the first part of that verse, he says, “We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living.” We, the apostles, work tirelessly with our hands to earn a living. Okay, it’s time to get controversial again. The command to bring the tithes into the storehouse was to provide for the Levites who weren’t allowed to work outside the church or even own property. There is no command in the New Testament to bring tithes into a storehouse and no mention of a storehouse at all. Instead, the New Testament teaches us to give our tithes and offerings; it actually tells us to give all our increase, to each other. We are to take care of each other. I know of a church that had a benevolence fund of over $200,000, and there were hardworking people in their body who weren’t able to make ends meet, and the church wasn’t helping them. This church has since realized the error in this and has started taking care of each other; in fact, their benevolence fund is very small now.

I realize there are pastors reading this who are gasping right now but study it for yourself and remember I am a pastor too. My church group meets in a park except on those few days it’s too cold to meet outdoors, and then we meet in someone’s home or business. We have found that by meeting in the park, not only do we not spend money on a building, but we can influence a lot more people who would never have darkened the door of a traditional church building. Also, as a pastor, I don’t take a salary from the church. I have my own business that God totally provided for me. I can make my living and at the same time, minister through my business. We don’t take an offering, although we do have a couple of people who God has led to give to our ministry, and that provides for the essentials. I encourage my people to give tithes and offerings, but to each other and those in need in our community.

Paul finishes this passage in the last half of verse 12 through verse 13  by saying that, even though we bless people who curse us, we are patient with people who abuse us, and when evil is spoken against us, we give a gentle answer. Still, they treat us like trash. Remember, Paul is talking about the church. Even though the apostles hold their tongues when the people of the Church are treating them badly, they are still treated like garbage by people who claim the name of Christ.

Each of us has been given spiritual leaders; in fact, Ephesians 4:11 tells us that these men are a gift from God. We need to start treating these leaders who God has put over us as gifts. We need to honor and respect them and learn from them, but at the same time, we are given the charge to test the spirits. If you test what your pastor is saying to scripture and it doesn’t line up, then you need to move on. But if it lines up with the word of God, then stand behind him, honor him and respect him as the spiritual leader God has put over you.

Us Four and No More

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Us Four and No More

1 Corinthians 4:5

I would not give my church upbringing for anything. I learned so much Bible there, and it is where I gave my life to Christ. It was a loving church, for the most part, but like all churches, it had its problems. My mom always jokingly said that church would be a great place if it weren’t for the people. One glaring problem with the church I grew up in was that it was an “us four and no more” kind of church. They believed that if you weren’t us, meaning their variety of their denomination, you weren’t going to heaven. Sometimes they would even preach entire sermons and even sermon series’ about why other churches were wrong.

When dealing with the subject of other denominations and churches, we must keep in mind what Jesus said. In Matthew 7:3-5, He said, “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” We all get things wrong in scripture; we are human. That’s why I always encourage people to check everything I say against scripture because as I always told my kids, I could be wrong, I was once before. We can’t be so dogmatic about our beliefs that we are condemning others. I keep saying this because it is so important, the only doctrine that should divide us is that of salvation by grace, through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, nothing else!

This is what the church at Corinth was doing, so Paul had to reprimand them one more time. In 1 Corinthians 4:5 Paul said, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” A more literal translation of that first line would be, “Therefore do not go on judging anything before it’s time.” It’s not our job to judge the world. Let’s look back at the first three verses of Matthew, chapter 7, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” Matthew 7:1-3. Many religious people would say that they are ready to be judged by the same measure, but are you…really? Are you so confident in your pre-tribulation view over their mid-tribulation view, or your dispensationalism view, or your predestination view that you would be willing to be judged on it?

Notice back in 1 Corinthians 4:5 that it says, “before the time.” There will be a time of judgment, and Christ will be the judge. We need to stop worrying about what others believe and start making sure our lives are straight, we need to get our house in order as the prophet Isaiah told King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:1, “In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’” We will all die, and after this, the judgment.

What does 1 Corinthians 4:5 go on to say? “but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts.” We keep trying to judge each other, but when Christ judges us, He will bring to light all the things we thought were hidden in the dark, He will even show the motives of our hearts. But here’s the beautiful thing, 1 John 1:9 tells us, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” So, if we confess our sins, He will forgive them, but it doesn’t stop there. Look at Hebrews 8:12, “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” We always say, “forgive and forget,” but there’s a problem with that. We can forgive each other, and we should, but we can’t forget. One of the many beautiful things about God is that when He forgives us, He can forget what we have done, it’s kind of like selective amnesia. He even tells us, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12. If you want to be encouraged today, stop and read all of Psalm 103, what a blessing.

Paul ends our text verse with these words, “and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5. We often focus on the judgment of God, and we should, to some extent, but I love that Paul ended this verse about judgment with this line. We don’t need to praise ourselves; we don’t need to go around tooting our own horns, all our intelligence and insight comes from God, so we are nothing but His tools. My handsaw doesn’t praise itself when it cuts a straight line; it cuts a straight line when I guide it that way, so why do we praise ourselves when we do something great for God? James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” There’s a lot in scripture about humbling ourselves, that’s a blog in itself.

So, this all comes back, as so many things in the New Testament do, to unity. As the body of Christ, we must stop judging each other and start loving each other. 1 John 4:7-8 tells us, Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” If we do not love each other, we don’t know God! That’s a pretty bold statement, but true. Stop judging your brothers and sisters in Christ and start loving them, and then, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35.

Not Seeking Approval

Ahhh ... The Sweet Life of a Gorilla
Photo by Michelle Pearson

I’m Not Seeking Your Approval

1 Corinthians 4:1-4

I enjoy people. I like to talk with people; I like to interact with people. I enjoy just being around other people. I got my first management position when I was only 21 years old, and I wanted to be the best manager I could be. I showed up early for every shift, I stayed on top of the paperwork, and I got to know my employees very well. Now, here’s the thing, in my early days of managing I had a supervisor who told me, if my employees like me, I’m not doing my job. I didn’t agree with that philosophy then, and I don’t to this day but, in the early days, I went too far in the other direction. As I said, I enjoy the company of other people, and quite frankly, I like to be liked. As a result, I had a real problem with my employees taking advantage of me. If their productivity was down, I’d help them catch up; if they didn’t show up for work, I’d pick up the slack. My employees loved me, but it wasn’t long before I was doing most of their work. I even had two employees call off together one beautiful Spring day because “it’s too nice out to come to work today.”

I began to realize that my employees would like working with me and still respect me; it didn’t matter if they liked me as a person. I wasn’t there to be their friend. I began making them toe the line and would write them up if they didn’t. I began treating them the way I would treat my sons. If they did wrong, I would hold them accountable, but if they did right, I would praise them. I just began treating them fairly. As a result, they loved working for me. I would have employees call in sick, and when they realized I was the manager on duty, they would decide to come in because they didn’t want to leave me shorthanded. I was everyone’s favorite manager, even though I had fired more employees than any other manager. What it came down to is that I stopped caring what they thought of me and started caring about helping them do their jobs to the best of their abilities, things ran much more smoothly after that.

This is Paul’s point in the first four verses of 1 Corinthians 4. In verse 1, he tells the church at Corinth to look at Apollos and him as servants of Christ. If you are a pastor, an elder, or a church leader of any kind, you must remember that you are just a servant of Christ who has been put in charge of those people. Far too often, church leaders let their authority go to their head, but if we think of ourselves as a doulos, a bondservant for Christ, we will keep that pride in check.

The first thing Paul tells us about being a leader is that we must be faithful. You see, in trying to make my employees like me, I wasn’t faithful to my company. I was trying to pick up their slack, but one person can’t do everything well. We must be faithful to Christ in our leadership. The writer of Hebrews even told the Church, “Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.” Hebrews 13:7. If a leader is not faithful, the Church will have no example to follow. As leaders, we must remember our place. We are here for no other reason than to glorify God. John put it best when he said, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30.

Paul goes on in verse 3 to say, “As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point.” I love this; he says that he doesn’t care what human authority might think of him; he doesn’t even trust his own opinion on matters of Christ. The Psalmist summed this up in Psalm 146:3-10 when he said, Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners.     The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. 10 The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. Praise the Lord! We are to respect and pray for our human authority but don’t trust in them, their time on this earth, as well as their time in power,  is limited. Instead, put all your trust in the Lord, who created all things.

Paul finishes this thought by saying, “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.” 1 Corinthians 4:4. Paul’s conscience is clear, he knows that he is right beyond a shadow of a doubt, but he tells the church at Corinth not to take his word for it. We need to seek the Lord in everything! I say this all the time; I’m glad so many read my blog and listen to my podcast and have read my book, but don’t take my word for it, seek it out yourself. There are many pastors that I love to listen to and read, but I have a responsibility to check everything they say against scripture. God does hold pastors responsible for what they teach, but He also holds us responsible for what we do with it.

Our Calling

Thomas Guesthouse
Photo by Michelle Pearson

Our Calling

If you know Michelle and me, or if you have been following this blog or have read my book, Cathedral Made of People, you know that back in 2009 through 2014 God called us to plant a church in a small rural island community in Northwest Florida. That five years was a great time for us. We made a lot of good friends and saw many people come to Christ, as well as many people delivered from addictions to alcohol and drugs.

In 2014 we left Cedar Key and took jobs managing retirement communities. We left because we felt we had done as much as we could there, but it seems God has different plans. About a month ago we got an odd phone call from an old friend on Cedar Key inviting us to a revival. We hadn’t heard from him in years, and he knows that we now live in Los Angeles, so it was a bit strange that he called. We didn’t think much of it, but a few days later we heard from someone else on the Key asking us to help them with something. Now, I don’t believe in coincidences, so we asked God to show us if we need to go back there. We told Him that we were willing to go back, but only if that is what He wanted, some of you may know that Florida is our least favorite state. Also, all our grandkids live in Los Angeles. Well, two weeks later, with no warning or reason, my job let me go.

Michelle and I have come to realize that we have some unfinished business down there and God is sending us back to finish it, so we are preparing. We are asking for prayer and have some very specific prayer requests.

First, and foremost, that God will prepare the way for revival in Cedar Key. We are praying that the Holy Spirit will go before us and go with us. We are praying that He will begin now to prepare the hearts of the locals to receive His word and that He will prepare our hearts to carry it.

Second, Pray that we will be accepted back by the locals. They often don’t trust outsiders but when we were there for five years, they began to trust us. They are used to people leaving and coming back, so that shouldn’t change things, just pray for grace and favor. We love these people and truly want to reach the island for Christ.

Third, for our support. Michelle and I are not part of any denomination and don’t feel that God wants us to be. As such, we don’t have any funding to do mission work, so we are praying for financial support. If you feel led to help us financially, you can Click Here to go to my Patreon account and set up to support us monthly, but if you don’t feel led to do so, please pray for us. Your prayers are more important than money; we know that God will provide.

Here’s a little information about Cedar Key to help you know how best to pray. It is a very rural part of Northwest Florida. It is called the Hidden Coast and Nature’s Coast and is known as the only “Old Florida” left. For many years Cedar Key was a fishing village, fishing mainly for Mullet, but in 1995 when the State of Florida banned the use of gill nets, they lost their livelihood. Shortly after that the government came out and showed the fishermen how to farm-raised clams. Cedar Key is 11 miles from the mouth of the Suwanee River, this causes the water around the key to be brackish which encourages the growth of algae and plankton, and that’s what clams eat. This has made Cedar Key one of the largest producers of farm-raised clams in the Country.

I have told you all this history to help you realize that Cedar Key, very much, has a “Fishing Village” mentality. They work hard all day to party all night. Alcoholism and drug addiction, particularly meth, are very prevalent. In that town of fewer than 900 residents, there are already five churches, but they each run 30 to 40 people, and the people that need the help say they don’t feel welcome there. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the church members are trying to make them feel unwelcome, for the most part, but they don’t feel comfortable in a “church setting.”

When we planted the church there in 2009, we were looking to be more like the first Church, found in the New Testament, and while we did a pretty good job, we missed the mark in many areas. We did manage to have a church that ran 40 to 50 every week, and most of those people were addicts and alcoholics, but still ended up looking more like a modern church than I think God wanted.

We are not looking to start a religious organization; we are looking to start a gathering of the Church and to bring true revival to that area. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus told us to go and make disciples, not congregations. He wants us to make people who imitate Him, not an audience. We will not be incorporating or getting a 501c3; I believe that when a church does this, they are removing Christ from the position as the head of the body and replacing Him with the government. I don’t understand how churches can complain about government interference when they have literally signed up for it.

Again, please pray for us as we go and support us if you can. Our prayer for Cedar Key is that it will become a beacon for Christ. We want to see the Church come together as one body the way Christ intended us to be and to be effective in our world today.

I was talking to Michelle the other day and mentioned that, when we were a young married couple, we used to sing the hymn, Lord Send me Anywhere. We truly meant it but didn’t think it meant He would send us everywhere. In our lives, Michelle and I have seen God do great things; we are excited to see what He has for us. Thank you for your support and your prayer.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.” Ephesians 6:18-19.

The Temple of God

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

The Temple of God

1 Corinthians 3:15-16

It’s interesting that this verse came up now, right after the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. In fact, it would have been posted last week, but I did the Easter blog instead. It never ceases to amaze me how many times things like this happen. When I right these blogs I do it expositional, going straight through a book of the Bible, so when the blogs line up with current events, I know God is doing something.

Now, I’m going to do my best to not be too controversial here. It is a shame to lose such an architectural masterpiece, especially since it is almost nine-hundred years old, but the Notre Dame Cathedral is not now, nor has it ever been, the house of God. That’s not just a statement about the Catholic church, our God does not live in buildings! Look at what Paul said in Acts 17:24, “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples.” You see, these buildings, these cathedrals, are nothing more than exhibitions of what man can do. They are not the house of God and, quite frankly, were not built for the glory of God.

I’ve had people tell me that God commanded the Hebrew people to build a beautiful, ornate temple. That is true, but He had them do that because that temple is where the Holy Spirit lived, the Jewish temple of the Old Testament was the house of God, but your church building today is not. In fact, I challenge you to do a study of the New Testament and find where the Christian Church had a temple or building, it isn’t there.

Look at the crucifixion. Matthew 27:50-51 says, 50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart.” That curtain mentioned in these verses was the veil that separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple. That veil was eighty feet tall and as thick as your hand is wide, and it ripped from top to bottom. Why did it rip? Because the Holy Spirit was moving out, He was moving into us, His church. From that point on we didn’t need a building to house God, He was housed in us, that’s why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” These buildings are not for God, they are for the men who built them and paid for them. They are just more religion.

In this week’s passage Paul said, 16 Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. So, not only is your body the temple of the Holy Spirit, but all of us together make up the temple of God, that is why I named my book, Cathedral Made of People. We are His temple, not some of us, not just a certain denomination, but everyone who believes in the gospel of Jesus Christ is part of that body. If we as the Church are ever going to be effective in this world, we must set aside our denominational differences and come together as one body with Christ as our head. Again, I am not suggestion ecumenicalism, I am saying that everyone who believes in salvation by lifechanging faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone is part of that Body. If you believe in a works-based salvation, or salvation by any other means, you are not part of that body, “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6. But if you do believe, it doesn’t matter what denomination you are part of, you are my brother or sister, part of the Body of Christ.

Verse 17 of this week’s passage says that “God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple.” God’s love for His Church is unfailing! He will defend us when others come up against us, Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” See that? He won’t have His angel armies fight for us, He himself will fight for us! So keep calm and trust God!

The end of verse 17 says, “For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” God says that we are His holy temple, we are set apart for Him. That is a beautiful picture of God’s love. Our God, the God who created the universe and everything in it loves us so much that He will personally fight for us. That’s what a father does! God protects us because we are His holy temple, we are adopted into His family, we are His children.

Let’s work together to tear down the walls of denominational division. Steve Green wrote a song in the 90s called, Let the Walls Come Down. Take a minute, go on YouTube, and listen to the lyrics of that song. This is the only way that His Church will ever be effective in this world. I recently did a study of what the Bible has to say about unity of the Church. I found that the topic of unity is talked about in about ten percent of the verses in the New Testament, that’s significant! Of all the topics in the New Testament, ten percent are about the unity of His Church.

Withstanding the Storm

Thomas Guesthouse
Photo by Michelle Pearson

Withstanding the Storms

1 Corinthians 3:10-11

The picture above is the Honeymoon Cottage in Cedar Key Florida. This structure was built as a guest house in 1959 by the Thomas family of Gainesville. The Thomas’ had a vacation home on Cedar Key and in 1959 decided to build this guest house. When they originally built it, it looked much better than this, and many people stayed in it over the years, including a famous author. After a local couple used it as their honeymoon suite in the 1970’s, it was given the name, The Honeymoon Cottage.

The problem with this guest house is that it was not built to survive the elements of the Cedar Key area. You see, Cedar Key is not part of the “Florida Keys,” it is off the Gulf Coast, just below the Panhandle of Florida. This area gets some terrible hurricanes that will stall in the area and stay right over Cedar Key for what seems like an eternity, and that’s exactly what happened in 1985. Hurricane Elena came up the Gulf of Mexico and, as usual, built intensity over the warm waters of the Gulf. By the time it got to Cedar Key it was a category 4 hurricane and it stalled over Cedar Key. There wasn’t much left of the Honeymoon Cottage after that and by that time State regulations had changed that banned the building of structures over the water, so they were not allowed to restore it. But, because of its name and the condition it was in, the Honeymoon Cottage became one of the most photographed structures in the state of Florida, you’ll even see it on postcards sold in other countries, like Germany.

Ask any builder and they will tell you that the most important thing to think of when building any structure is the foundation. And, yes, they did sink the polls deep enough for the Honeymoon Cottage, but there is much more to think about in the building of a foundation.

This is what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 when he said, 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” When Paul planted the church at Corinth, he did it like a wise builder by laying a good foundation, while taking all the elements into consideration. You see, Paul knew that he wasn’t going to do all the building of the church himself, so he wanted to make sure that when others came to build on it, they had a firm foundation to work on.

We see Paul building this foundation in Acts chapter 18. This passage says that Paul devoted himself to the scriptures and preached Christ to the Jews first, then when they rejected him and blasphemed, Paul went to the gentiles. Paul then went and started a home group at he home of a man named Titius Justus who lived next to the synagogue. Then, Crispus, the leader of the synagogue who believed in the Lord, joined them and it says, “and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.” Acts 18:8.

Apparently Paul was worried about the Jews coming after him, because it says in verses 9-10, And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.’” So, God had to calm his fears and let him know that He’s got this. Then it says that Paul spent a year and a half there teaching the word of God among them. Here’s the thing, preaching is good as we read in 1 Corinthians 1:21, “God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” But there is no foundation without sound teaching. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” In fact, the Bible tells us to preach the gospel to the unbelievers, and to teach believers. Look for yourself, the word preach is used 109 times in the New Testament, interestingly it is only used 8 times in the Old Testament, but every one of the 109 times it is used in the New Testament, it is talking about preaching the gospel to the unsaved, or the message you were preached when you believed.

Far too often pastors stand in front of their congregation and preach when they should be teaching them so they can preach. If you are a pastor, you should be both a preacher and a teacher. You should be out in the world preaching the gospel to the unsaved, and you should be with your church teaching your church and giving them a foundation so they can preach to the world, then you deserve a double honor as it says in 1 Timothy 5:17.

Think about it, if every person sitting in a pew on Sunday was taught to be a preacher and was equipped and commissioned to go out and preach the gospel to all the world, how many more people would be coming to Christ?

This is what Paul did with the church at Corinth. He laid a solid foundation with good teaching. He taught them good biblical principals for them to build on. Yes, there were some problems that he had to correct later, they were humans and messed up here and there, but because of the foundation he laid with good Bible teaching, he was able to make the corrections and move on with doing the work of the Lord.

Foolish Preaching

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Foolish Preaching

1 Corinthians 2:13-16

 

I have a friend who is older than me; we’ll call him Ron. I see Ron almost every day at work, and we have great conversations. We talk about the hikes that Michelle and I go on every week, about sports, politics, and the Bible. Ron is not a believer, although he is very religious. He is blinded by his religion as well as his intellect and thinks he knows more than everyone else, including God. He doesn’t believe that the Bible is the word of God; he believes that it’s a book written by theologians throughout history. He believes that the Old Testament is nothing more than a book about the history of the Jewish nation and has no significance. He says the God of the Old Testament was an angry God who was constantly destroying people and says he wants nothing to do with a God like that. I had challenged him to read the Old Testament, all of it, specifically paying attention to those times when God took out His wrath on His people and to look at how many chances, He always gave them first.

The last time Ron said this, I asked him if I could read my favorite verse in the Bible. When he said I could, I took him to Zephaniah 3:17 which says, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” I then asked him, does this sound like an angry God to you?

But here’s the thing about Ron. No matter how many times he reads the Bible, or talks to pastors, or tries to reason it out, he will never understand the thoughts of God until he has been indwelled by God’s spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 2:13-14 Paul says, 13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. 14 But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.” You see, when we speak by the Spirit, the world cannot understand us. Years ago, I knew two pastors in the same town who both pastored in the same denomination. One of them was a great man of God. He preached from the Word, discipled his people, taught them how to win souls, and ministered all over town. The other stood up every Sunday and read the sermon that had been sent to him that week. When I would speak about spiritual things with that one, he would stand there with a blank look on his face. You could see it went right over his head.

When I tried to speak with Ron or that pastor about spiritual truths, they both saw it as foolishness. As we just read in verse 14, that’s how the world will respond. 1 Corinthians 1:18 also tells us this when it says, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” So, if people see spiritual things as foolish, how can they be saved? Paul goes on to say, just a few verses later, “Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:21. People will be saved through our foolish preaching. You see, we can’t save anyone! Throughout my life, I have heard so many pastors saying things like, “I saved 200 people this year.” No, you didn’t! If they were saved at all, it had nothing to do with you. God used your foolish preaching to reach people and bring them to salvation. When we preach, or blog, or do a podcast, or even witness to someone, we need to remember that all we can do is share the gospel and pray that the Holy Spirit does the rest.

Now, that doesn’t mean we say whatever we want and leave it up to the Holy Spirit; we must be prepared. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” And, then again in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” You see, the Lord will only bless our foolish preaching if we are prepared. We must study, work hard, and be prepared to give an answer. Look at the end of that last verse where it says, “who correctly explains the word of truth.” We must be ready to explain the word of truth CORRECTLY. The KJV says “rightly dividing,” and the NASB says “accurately explaining.” The only way you can accurately explain the word of truth is to know what it says. Read it, study it, meditate on it, and be ready to explain it. We must put aside everything men taught us and study the word by taking it literally and keeping it in the context of the whole Bible. Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t listen to pastors or read commentaries. What I am saying is when you do, test it against scripture, even what I am writing. God doesn’t want any of us to sit back and coast. He expects all of us to do the work.

In my book, Cathedral Made of People, I dedicated an entire chapter to this subject. Read Ephesians 4:11-16. In this passage, Paul says that God has given a gift to the Church in the form of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These people were given to the Church to equip them to build the body. A trainer for a bodybuilder doesn’t do the work for them. The trainer provides the proper equipment and teaches them to use it. In the same way, your pastor isn’t there to do the work for you; he is there to teach you how to use the equipment you have properly. So, let’s get to work and be prepared!

Who Do You Follow?

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Who Do You Follow?

1 Corinthians 1:11-13

A few years ago, there was a Christian worship band who made a public statement that they believed in creational evolution, just another belief system that can be corrected by taking the Bible literally but keeping it in the context of the whole Bible. But what I want to focus on is not that comment, but the comment he made to defend himself in response to the outrage of the Christian community. In one of his statements defending his point of view, he stated that there is no difference if you say you follow John Calvin and I follow C.S. Lewis. That is wherein the problem lies. Let’s look at today’s text, 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 says, 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” You could take this passage and change the names. Verse 12 could say, “What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow John Calvin’; another, ‘I follow C. H. Spurgeon’; another, ‘I follow Christ’.” Friends we need to stop following men and women and take the mindset of Paul when he said, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2.

I get it, it is easier to let some pastor or theologian tell you what to think, but that is not what God has told us to do. He told us, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. Please don’t get me wrong; I am not saying to stop listening to your pastor, there are several pastors I listen to regularly. What I am saying is, when you listen to a pastor, you need to keep in mind that he is just a man and as such could be wrong. It is your responsibility to go home and study what he just said. In the end, God will hold pastors accountable for what they teach, but He will hold you accountable for what you do with it.

So, what exactly is the pastor’s job? What does the Bible tell us we are supposed to be doing? In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul is talking about unity of the Body of Christ. Starting in verse 11 he says, 11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” In my book, Cathedral Made of People, I dedicated an entire chapter to this one passage, but to sum it up, if you are a pastor, you are the trainer for a bodybuilder. You have the best equipment available, so you need to train your bodybuilders to use the equipment for themselves. If you use it for them, what benefit will they get out of it? Years ago, I attended a family member’s church where the pastor told them that they couldn’t understand the Bible for themselves, so he would tell them what it is saying. This is exactly what the Catholic church did in the middle ages. The Bible was only available in Latin, so they would tell the church what they wanted them to believe. Not to worry, this family member is no longer in that church and, not surprisingly, that “pastor” now has a compound where he lives with his 10 or 12 remaining members.

So, if we pastors are doing our job and teaching our local gathering how to be that “workman who does not need to be ashamed” and how to “accurately handle the word of truth,” then our people can do the work themselves of studying the Bible literally and in the context of the entire Bible. But, a note to pastors, keep it literal. Your people don’t need to hear what you believe it is saying; they need to know what it says. I used to enjoy listening to this one Christian speaker. She was a good speaker and was usually on track with the Bible. Then one day as I was listening to her, she read a passage of scripture and said, “what I think this is saying,” then went about taking it completely out of context to prove a point. To me, it didn’t matter if her point was valid or not, I said out loud, “I don’t care what you think it says,” and changed the channel. I’m sure the other people in the gym thought I was crazy, but it infuriated me that she would manipulate scripture simply to prove a point.

What it comes down to is that we need to stop saying, “I’m of John Calvin” and “I’m of C. H. Spurgeon” and “I’m of C. S. Lewis.” Again, listen to your pastor, then do the work. If you think something he said doesn’t align with Scripture, then go to him, no one else, and talk to him about it. And, pastors, that means, when they come to you, you need to take it seriously, one person in this scenario is wrong, and it could be you. So, when this happens, pastors should set aside time to sit down with this person and study the Bible together to see what it is truly saying. Then, if you were wrong, you need to take that to the church and let them know. As I said earlier, God does hold us pastors accountable for what we preach, so we must make sure we got it right.

Active Waiting

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Active Waiting
1 Corinthians 1:4-7

In my 30+ years in the business management world, I have had to go to more seminars and watch more training videos than I can count. I have seen Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and even Robert Schuller. These guys talked about everything from management styles to team building, but one thing that most of them talked about was active listening. I’m sure you’ve all heard someone talk about this. Not listening passively, but really getting in there, commenting about what they are saying, responding with phrases like, “what I hear you saying is…”
Well, Paul starts out his letter to the church at Corinth by telling them to practice active waiting. Right after his usual greeting of grace and peace, Paul says this, “4 I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. 5 Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. 6 This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. 7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-7.
Notice in verse 4, he doesn’t just say that he thanks God for them, he says that he always thanks God for them. We need to be thankful for other believers, even if they don’t belong to our denomination, and we need to do this always, not just every now and then. We also need to be specific when we thank God for other believers. Paul says that he thanks God for the gifts that He has given them. Spoiler Alert…Although Paul does genuinely thank God for their spiritual gifts, he will be reprimanding them later in his letter for their misuse of those same gifts, so this is somewhat of a setup.
In verse 5 he talks about how God has enriched their church through Christ Jesus in every way, and he says God did this with their eloquent words and knowledge. So, what Paul is doing here is reminding them that all their eloquent words and knowledge come from Jesus. This is important for all of us to remember, especially those of us who are pastors, or leaders of any kind. Remember what we read in James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” And, what does 2 Samuel 22:28 say? “You rescue the humble, but your eyes watch the proud and humiliate them.” Believe me, you don’t want God to humiliate you, so humble yourself before Him. This is just a couple of verses, there are dozens of verses throughout scripture that remind us that God opposes the proud.
In verse 6 Paul reminds them that all these things, their knowledge, eloquence, and spiritual gifts, are just testimonies that what he told them about Christ was true.
Now, look at what he says in verse 7. He tells them that, in Christ, they have every spiritual gift they need to await Christ’s return eagerly. We need to expect the second coming eagerly. Friends, if you haven’t noticed, it won’t belong. So, what does he mean by eagerly wait? The Greek word used here is, ἀπεκδέχομαι apekdéchomai, ap-ek-dekh’-om-ahee, and it means to expect fully. We need to fully expect the second coming of Christ in our lifetime. We need to live every day as if we knew that Jesus was coming back today.
Eagerly Waiting or Fully Expecting isn’t a passive thing. As Christ followers, we must be actively waiting and expecting the second coming. Michelle and I are doing research right now which will be coming out in an upcoming book. We are co-writing this one, and it will be called, Life as We Knew It, One Couple’s Awakening.” What we have been uncovering is a staggering amount of corruption and just pure evil in our world today. It is steeped in U.S. and world politics, in Hollywood, and in the media. Not only that, it is throughout our schools of higher learning, science, and even the general public. It is an evil world we live in, worse than the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all Christ followers must be awakened to it, so we know what we are up against.
We can’t just live our lives with our heads in the sand, we need to wake up and stand together. If you have been reading my blogs, you know that I talk a lot about the importance of unity within the body of Christ. The only way that we can be effective against the evil of this world is if we stand together as one body! We must put aside all our denominational differences. There is only one doctrine that should divide us, and that is salvation by God’s grace and through our life-changing faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Literally, nothing else matters! So, it doesn’t matter if you are a Calvinist, an Arminian, or anything else, as long as you are straight on the issue of salvation, you are my brother or sister.
Look at the New Testament. There were no denominations, many churches were making up one body, with Christ as the head. Now, look at 2 Chronicles 7:14, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” I’m sure most of us have read this verse and heard multiple sermons on it. But, look at that word, “wicked.” The Hebrew word that was translated as “wicked” is the word, רַע raʻ, rah, which means; bad, disagreeable, malignant, evil, and divisive. So, this verse is telling us that we believers must be humble, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked and divisive ways, if we want to see God heal our land.
We must join together as one body and actively await the coming of Christ. Let’s pray for a great revival in our land, a great awakening if you will.

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