Posts Tagged ‘power’

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Thoughts after Resurrection Sunday: Jesus Christ, the Power of God

Remember how the Roman Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate approved a military guard for a cemetery plot and how they took pains to seal the stone to permanently close the tomb of Jesus? That was Pilate’s final word to Jesus, whom he had interrogated earlier that day. During that trial, Pilate and Jesus touched the third rail of worldly politics: Power. Pilate denied that power must be based on truth. Power was his to wield as he decided.

Jesus insisted on the primacy of Truth and that there was only one Power in the world: God’s. All other power was either delegated or allowed until the time of judgment, which rested in the hands of no magistrate, no emperor, no Supreme Court, but in God Almighty. Pilate had no power over Jesus that had not been given to him. And Pilate had no power over the Tomb-although he thought otherwise.

Those wielding power may mistakenly forget about the primacy of truth. When Jesus was questioned by Caiaphas about his teachings, he said, “Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me, what I said to them; they know what I said.” A soldier struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the High Priest?” The soldier used power, trying to coerce Jesus, who had noted that truth could be found in the testimony of others about him.
Jesus refused to give in, saying, “If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong, but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” What could the soldier say in response? We are not told. Did Jesus’ penetrating presence and words pierce the soldier’s conscience?

When a truth is spoken to the consciences of those in power, one or the other must give way. Power must yield or truth must be silenced. Classic examples of this confrontation are the peaceful civil rights protests in the U.S. Power at first may seem to win the day-the state may whip, beat, imprison protesters and “restore order” and silence. But if the protesters speak truth to a power that is built on falsehood, they have the power of truth behind them. In the case of civil rights, the broader national conscience had to face the racism for what it was.

Many were willing to suffer to confront racism. In history, the state often does not back down and attempts to silence those who are dissident. It may even knowingly punish the innocent, as did Pilate.

In our current cultural crisis, those who speak truth to power about human life in the womb, the nature of marriage, and religious conscience are often targeted for silencing. Yet we, unlike the state, cannot use coercion in this conflict. Yes, there is power to be had in speaking the truth, just not in the way worldly men prefer to use it, like James and John who wanted to sit on thrones with Jesus. The power of Christians only comes through the Cross, through the willingness to suffer for the truth-and live according to it.

The power that raised Jesus was not meant as an assault on the guarding soldiers. They and the sealed stone were not the point. God did not unseal a tombstone to prove that he could empty a tomb. No, Jesus was raised because of a divine truth about the Incarnate Son of God: “It was not possible for him to be held by death.” (Acts 2:24)
Power comes and goes. Truth is truth and stands forever. It cannot remain suppressed. Even the stones will cry out. Yes, stones, and even tombstones. “Suffered under Pontius Pilate” was never the end of the story.

The Gospel truth is that Jesus’ Name is above every name, to which every knee will bow, even Pilate’s.

~  James M. Kushiner, Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James

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Strategies

Communication Strategies In Ministry

I graduated from Crown College with a BS degree in Christian Ministry.  I have learned the essential skills necessary for the communication of the Gospel and biblical truths through a variety of available mediums (this one included). I am studying current mediums for communication, using the basic principles of exegesis and hermeneutics, strategies for effective communication, and preaching. I hope to be further equipped to formulate an effective communication philosophy and strategy for ministry.

Finding a mentor, to me, was like looking for the holy grail. I know what I was looking for, but the search was not uncovering my mentor. You see, I live 70 miles from the church I attend. My wife and I minister there. She plays piano for worship sometimes, teaches children’s church, and I have supplied the pulpit several times. Our pastor left to take another church, so I could not use him as my mentor resource. I had visited several churches in the town where I live. I got to know two of the pastors, and haven’t really been in communication with them for a while. I was afraid to ask them for their help. Who likes rejection? I did not even consider dropping this course on account of this hunt for my holy mentor. I prayed and agonized about what to do. So, I am sitting here in my office, and the Lord prompted me to send an email to both of the pastors. What have I got to lose? My grade, my GPA, all my effort! Thanks be to God! He does provide and He does supply all of our needs. I found the holy mentor! We had our meeting and he signed the agreement! So, onward and upward. Whew.

I believe like Luther and Calvin, that my salvation is totally monergistic. All God, and none of me! However, when I became a Christian, born again, regenerated, transformed by the Holy Spirit, my interaction with God became synergistic. God tells me what to do, and I am supposed to do it! However, even if that is the case, God’s Word tells me that “it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 (NRSV) Even though my relationship with God is interactive, He still helps me. He doesn’t leave me without what I need to live in union and communion with Him. He enables me, He enables my will, and He enables my effort. Why? All for His good pleasure. Our wills and our actions are the very arenas where God’s own power is working. His grace still amazes me.

How does this relate to communication strategies? Well, did you get a picture while reading this story? Did you see me as one of Monty Python’s characters riding a stick pony along the wooded landscape? Did you picture me going along hill and dale until I finally came upon that glorious email sent from above saying, “sure I’d be glad to sit down and talk with you about this?” If you did, that’s awesome. If you didn’t, was my communication strategy working? Did you get another picture in your mind while reading this? Either way, the point is that there are many means to communicate – and this blog is one of the means that I use to present the Gospel to a lost and dying world. It works for me.

Application? Always trust in the Lord. Always trust Him for anything and everything. Jesus said that if we ask anything according to God’s will, our prayers will be answered. God will provide the means to accomplish the task He has assigned to you. That says a lot about the content of our prayer….but hey, that’s another sermon!

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What’s a worship service supposed to look like? I’m sure if we polled everyone, we’d get lots of different opinions – and strongly stated ones at that. But I think that a lot of us approach church a lot like going to the movies. It’s sort of a spectator and consumer activity to a lot of us.

Think of it like this: You go to the movie and buy your ticket. In church, that’s like the offering. Then you get your popcorn. In church that’s like the bulletin. So you settle into your seat in the theatre and listen to the music and passively watch those trivia questions on the screen before the show. In church, that’s like the prelude music and reading the bulletin while you’re waiting for the service to start.

Then, back at the theatre, come the previews for upcoming shows. In church, those are the announcements and for some of us, that’s the category that the music fits in as well – preliminaries – stuff you have to get through to get to the show you came for. And then in the theatre, at last, the movie comes on. In church, that’s the sermon. In the theatre, we had hoped to be entertained. Maybe we were moved, or maybe we laughed, or maybe we were scared.

And when the movie’s over, either we think it was a great or maybe it was a dud, and we let everyone we came with know what we thought. In church, we tend to have the same expectation, and we sort of give our assessment of the sermon in the same way. “That was a great sermon. That was a boring sermon. Man, pastor was meandering today, wasn’t he? I didn’t like the songs they picked this week, etc.” Then, after attending either venue, we go home and come back looking for a good show the next week.

For many of us, church is a weekly show we go watch. We pay our offering, as if we’re buying a ticket, and so we expect the kind of results we want. Our mindset is that we’re going to church to receive something. And certainly that’s an okay expectation on one level.

But ultimately, is that what a “worship service” is all about? I don’t think so. You see the very nature of the word worship, in all of its New Testament and Old Testament variants, is that it’s verb. It’s something we do. And that thing we do is never defined as simply “showing up” at a service called a worship service. If you’re going to be in a real “worship service,” it’s going to have to involve some people choosing to worship God.

Biblical words for worship have definitions such as “to kiss towards,” “to kiss the feet of,” “to bow down,” “to prostrate oneself,” “to ascribe worth to,” and “to serve.” Biblical worship is described as singing, shouting, bowing, kneeling, clapping, making joyful noises, dancing, sacrificing, giving offerings, and presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. These are very active, physical sounding definitions and descriptions that don’t come close to sounding like “show up and receive something.”

Worship isn’t a passive experience. Worship is a response to who God is and what he’s done in light of who we are and what we’ve done. And when we really start to grasp that truth, we will find ourselves, bowing and kneeling and lifting our hands and singing with our whole hearts and giving our offerings as sacrifices to the one who sacrificed his all for us. Just showing up and listening doesn’t look anything like biblical worship.

If you’re looking for good entertainment or just want to watch a show, maybe it’ll be worth your eight bucks to go the local theatre. But if you’ve gotten a taste of who God is and what he’s done in light of who you are and what you’ve done, I’d recommend heading to church and let God be your audience for a while. He’d love to listen and watch and he’s worthy of every expression of worship we can offer him!

~ by Dan Adler

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Those who were headed for the Upper Room loved Jesus dearly. They were compassionate, self-sacrificing, soul-loving. But they were not yet qualified to be His witnesses. It takes more than a love for Jesus and a compassion for souls to qualify you as His witness.

They had been taught in the school of Christ. They had healed the sick, cast out demons, and performed miracles. They had seen Jesus clothed in His eternal glory on the Mount.

They had been nearby when He sweat drops of blood as He prayed and then they had seen Him hanging on the cross. They had seen Him resurrected, viewed the empty tomb, eaten with Him, and talked with Him in His glorified body. They had even seen Him ascend into heaven! Yet they still were not ready to witness of Him.

Why couldn´t Peter go to those milling crowds in Jerusalem and immediately testify to His resurrection? Hadn´t he witnessed that event firsthand? It seems he could have preached, “Jesus is alive! He ascended into heaven! Repent!”

Peter makes a powerful statement to the chief priests: “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Spirit,whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32).

Through the words of the Holy Spirit speaking through Peter, the priests “were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them” (Acts 5:33). The Holy Spirit also had spoken through Peter on the day of Pentecost, and all who heard “were pricked in their heart” (Acts 2:37).

Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, preached to the religious leaders: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye. . . . When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth” (Acts 7:51, 54).

When you emerge from seeking God, full of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to stand with boldness before fellow workers, family, anyone, and your witness will provoke one of two reactions. They will either cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” or they will want to kill you! You will speak a word that cuts to the heart. The difference is found in the power of the Holy Spirit.

~ David Wilkerson

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