Born2Serve Ministries O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Ps 107:1

6Sep/11

God Centered or Man Centered

For nearly fourteen centuries men thought that the earth was the center of the solar system.  In fact, there was never any documented debate in the matter until a book entitled “On the Revolution of Celestial Spheres” was written in 1450 AD.  The author, Nicolas Copernicus, concluded that there had to be a simpler explanation for the heavenly bodies, their placement, their movement, and their effect on the earth’s seasons.  His presentation of the heliocentric model shattered the geocentric theory which had for so long captivated men’s minds.  Though it sparked a very volatile argument, it changed the face and the perspective of astronomy for good and forever.  

In every generation of preachers, there have been several somewhat differing philosophies offered as the central focus for serving the Lord.  Various Christian leaders, churches, authors, and institutions have all had their own take on what a basic “operating system” of ministry should be.  Among these ministry mind-sets are two very contrary philosophies: a man-centered focus vs. a Christ-centered focus.  The one places man at the middle of a ministries “solar system.”  The other fixes the Son in His proper place, front and center.  While the former is fraught with theological problems, the latter is in fact the only alternative for a genuine servant of God.

This truth was especially driven home to my heart some time ago while holding meetings in the Mid-west.  When I arrived, the pastor began to share some of the burdens on his own heart concerning the subject at hand.  He was actually cleaning up some of the carnage that the former pastor had left behind.  Much of the mess was due to a faulty ministry philosophy.  According to the present pastor, his predecessor had displayed much arrogance while leading the flock.  He had readily barked orders to all of his “subjects” but was unwilling to dirty his hands with menial tasks, (not something he learned from the One who stooped to wash His disciple’s feet.)  He viewed very capable people as a threat instead of wisely utilizing their gifts in the service of the King.  He maintained one image in the pulpit and another image outside of the pulpit.  Perhaps most damaging of all, he encouraged people to serve so that they might please the pastor instead of serving so that they might please Christ.  In case you haven’t guessed, his ministry philosophy was man-centered.

Several problems lie ahead for anyone in God’s service that adopts the above mentioned ministry guide.  First, it will Affect One’s Practice in Leadership.  Those who tolerate and promote a man-centered approach will create a lord and vassal mentality.  Many in God’s flock languish under the bondage of this type of “leadership.”  As preachers, we must recognize that we are stewards not masters!  That is why God inspired Peter to write, “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (I Peter 5:3).

The cowards who choose this base method of ministry will often show great insecurity towards and mistrust of very reliable and godly people. When the daughters of Israel sang, “Saul hath slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands,” Saul asked, “What can he have more but the kingdom?” (I Samuel 18:7-8).  If Saul had shown a God-centered focus he would have admired the chorus, and would have noted that his choice to set David “over the men of war” was a mark of good leadership.  However, he suffered, and many others with him, from his wretched insecurity.

When leaders refuse to set Christ at the center of their philosophical solar system, they tend to lose the essential quality of serving others.  Their motto becomes “Others, Lord, yes others! Let others serve only me!”  Was this not the sin of Diotrophes who loved “to have the preeminence” (III John 9)?

Perhaps most dangerous of all, man-centered leadership leads to no accountability.  Subtly the leader obtains a Messiah-like status that can never be questioned.  He reigns with great arrogance, intimidates any that refuse to be his yes-men, and discourages his followers from thinking biblically.  In doing so he joins the ranks of Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, and Hussein and fails to submit to a system of checks and balances.  This man-centered approach to ministry was certainly not in the manual of the apostle Paul who said, “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe” (I Thessalonians 2:10).

A second very clear pitfall on the road to a man-focused ministry is that it will Affect One’s Perspective towards People.  The individuals who promote this errant philosophy will lead their flock to be man followers instead of Christ followers.  While the Scriptures on occasion reference the need to follow an apostle (I Corinthians 11:1; II Thessalonians 3:7-9) or a pastor (Hebrews 13:7), the emphasis is always upon their godly example, their faith, or their own dedication to Christ.  The Bible does not encourage the sheep to blindly follow the under shepherd anywhere his fleshly whims may lead.  It is astounding that any preacher who claims to adhere to the Bible would steer his flock in this downward direction.  His man-centered approach is most definitely an offense to the One who said “follow me” (Luke 5:27).  The goal of God’s man should be to challenge his people to be “followers of the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4).

Another subtle and damaging result, when man replaces Christ as the hub, is that the flock seeks to please man instead of God.  The service in the church, i.e. teaching a Sunday school class, working on a bus route, serving as a deacon, tending to the junior church, cleaning the auditorium, soulwinnning, etc., is deemed successful if the pastor alone is pleased.  Where is the pleasure of Christ?  Is His smile sought?  Not within this framework.  Plainly the Savior taught otherwise.  He declared, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth His trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).  Paul stated, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).  The admonishment to believers in Colosse was simple.  “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23).  The words of Scripture soundly divert attention away from man and onto the Savior.

Within this facade of service, otherwise known as man worship, lies the grave danger that it will Affect One’s Position of Theology.  First is the issue of authority.  When a man is the focus in a ministry, the tendency is to make his word the final authority instead of God’s Word.  The church at Pergamos was guilty of this very error because of their toleration of those who held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.  These heretics ultimately taught that their word was to be accepted above God’s.  God said concerning this teaching that it was the very “thing which I hate” (Rev. 2:15).  When a preacher begins to demand an unquestioning following of his own words, how different is he from the Pope?  He, in fact, is shamefully similar.

Among other tragic effects upon one’s theology, this evil focus away from Christ and onto man causes an adverse reaction.  A man who has been exposed to this type of philosophy has the potential of swinging the theological pendulum away from that which is orthodox and true.  It is human nature, albeit wrong, to do so.  Here is a man training for the ministry within the boundary of an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church.  The doctrinal position is, or at least ought to be, correct and Biblical.  However, the leader or leaders within his church promote man worship, demand blind loyalty, have no accountability, live according to the dictates of the flesh, and boast in their arrogant ways.  He sees the fallacy of this practice and longs to be involved in a ministry where none of the above is existent amongst the leadership.  So he takes a long look at the New Evangelical movement and at famous radio preachers and authors within this vein.  On the surface it glitters and seems so appealing.  He thinks, “That must be the place where I should stand.  There doesn’t seem to be any fighting in that crowd.  Perhaps from that ministerial vantage point, none of the leaders seek vainglory.  I think that I’ll become like them.”  Then either with great gusto or little by little, he begins to shed the orthodox positions of Scripture and the Bible moorings of Fundamental Baptists.  Whether he ever finds perfect leadership or not is irrelevant, because he has forsaken basic Scriptural truth and compromised.  Where did this saga begin?  It all started when he was exposed to a power hungry, egotistical leader who stood in the pulpit as an independent Baptist.

The last and most sobering impact that a man-centered ministry will have is that it Affects One’s Place in the Judgment.    The believer’s focus ought to be upon the Bema Seat so as to motivate him presently to live for eternity.  When anyone in the ministry diverts this attention away from that day of great accounting, the quality of the building material digresses from gold, silver, and precious stones to wood, hay, and stubble.  What an awesome responsibility to realize that the preacher’s philosophy not only will affect his standing but those whom he has influenced as well.  “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (II Corinthians 5:10).  Paul cited this as a great motivator for his own life when he said, “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Corinthians 5:11).  Any preacher that adopts a man-centered mindset will suffer loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Likewise, any preacher that exalts the Savior in every aspect of ministry will receive a reward.

Also revealed at the Judgment Seat will be the impact our philosophy of ministry had upon the over all advancement or hindrance of the cause of Christ.  The context of I Corinthians 3 is that we are laborers together with God.  Paul declared, “I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.  But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” (I Corinthians 3:10).  The Lord is highlighting our individual responsibilities in the entire building of God.  He may say to one preacher, “Your ministry involved building the walls,” and to another, “Yours was to erect the roof.”  To someone else he may say, “I expected you to lay the carpet” or “You were to install the electrical wiring in the building of God.”  Then, on that day, each of us will see how our ministry either hindered or advanced the Savior’s cause.  Certainly if one’s ministry has been centered on Christ, there will be reason for great rejoicing.  However, should a lifetime or even a moment of ministry be fixed upon the fleeting glory of man, great sorrow will ensue.  This is motivation enough to keep one’s focus within the framework of a Christ-centered ideal.

It would be foolish and ignorant for any scientist or astronomer to slip back into the geocentric theory of space, and it is ignorant and rebellious for any servant of God to place someone other than the Son at the center of His ministerial “solar system.”  John the Baptist made clear his servants mind-set when he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).  Paul set the sails for the direction of his ministry when he said, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).  Indeed, to have the proper practice in leadership, the right perspective towards people, the correct position of theology and a solid place in the judgment, God’s servants must diligently maintain a Christ-centered philosophy of ministry.  My prayer is that every alumnus of Ambassador Baptist College who labors in the Lord’s vineyard will always manifest this focus in service.


Evangelist Dwight Smith

This article was first published in the Volume VII Issue 1 of The Exhorter Newsletter of Evangelist Dwight M. Smith
30Aug/11

Divine Creation vs. The Foolish Guesses


DIVINE CREATION VERSUS THE FOOLISH GUESSES AND SPECULATIONS  OF EVOLUTIONARY  ADVOCATES

                In Genesis chapters one and two, the inerrant Scriptures make it abundantly clear that creation, the creation of the universe and humanity as well, consisted of direct and brief actions by God. This fact is reiterated in Ps. 33:6 & 9 where the psalmist, penned the following divinely inspired words: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth…for he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast."

                The clear teaching of Scripture, plus the combined archeological/geological evidences available do not lend any credence for the incredible evolutionary guesses about a universe that supposedly began millions and billions of years ago. Yet, nearly every week, some humanistic scientist or atheistic academic entity postulates some new wild guess about the universe's conception or humanity's origins. If you want to enjoy a few "laughs," consider some of the following unbelievable "guesses" as the F.D. editor takes his readers on a "fantasy" journey through evolution! .

                Our evolutionary journey begins with an article entitled "What Was there before the Universe" that appeared in the Sept. 28, 2008 issue of the Detroit Free Press, the author writes about a forum where "some of the top minds met at Columbia University to debate" the "questions" about the universe's origin. These participants included leading "cosmologists" and "physicists" from around the country.

                A "BIG BANG" 13.7 BILLION "THEORETICAL" YEARS AGO?

                The article author says that some of the scientific experts who participated apparently believe [incredibly so] that the "theoretical beginning of our universe" began about "13.7 billion years ago" probably with a "big bang." And if  you want to believe the astronomers at the Universe of California, you can even postulate as another news article does that stars somehow just "burst into existence" some 500 million years later, some 13.2 billion years ago! [Remember, that's just a small 500 million year distinction when the universe supposedly was only 500 million years old.]

"FANCIFUL" WILD GUESSES ABOUT BEFORE THE "BIG BANG"

                However, unbelieving scientists are not really sure that it all began with a "big bang" or what happened before this "big" explosion! According to the article, scientists have "many different theories" about what might have happened before this action. The "theories" have such "fanciful" [that the news writer's account] names as the "big bounce," "the multiverse," the "cyclic theory," "parallel worlds" and even "soap bubbles." But could it go even further backwards?

 "BIG BANGS" that occurred "TRILLIONS OF YEARS" AGO?

                Well, that's two what two "cosmologists," Paul Steinhard and Neil Turok postulated in their 2007 book "Endless Universe Beyond the Big Bang."  Seinhard and Turok claim that "the evolution of the universe is cyclic, with big bangs occurring once every trillion years or so."

                How many "trillion" years" ago? Of course, they're not quite sure, that's why they added the "or so" postulation! Do they have any documented evidence? Well, no—that's just their hypothetical supposition. At any rate, the "big bang" explosion or "big bangs" explosions supposedly created "tiny particles" from which the "stars, planets" and "everything" were formed. 

A "DARK AGE" THAT COVERS "HUNDREDS OF MIILLIONS" OF YEARS?

                Yes, there is a "missing gap" in some "astrophysicists" speculative conjectures. Some "astrophysicists" think that there is a missing "gap" that covers hundreds of millions of years between the "big bang" and the "emergence of the "first sun, stars and galaxies" like our "Milky Way," while "other scientists disagree and "aren't so sure."  About the only real fact that was delineated in another news article on this subject was that "scientists have almost no grasp of what occurred during" that huge time gap era.

                But hang on to your seats because a "leading authority on early stars and black holes," Avi Loeb, a "theoretical physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics" has the answer. According to Loeb, after this long period ended, "In went this primordial gaseous mist," and "out came  blazing celestial bodies, including stars creating carbon, oxygen, that stuff that made you and me."

DID THE PLANETS FORM A "BILLION YEARS" AFTER THE "BIG BANG?" AND THEN "DIE OUT?"

                If your mind is doing confusing twirls by now, so is this editor's, because some astronomers believe that the "planets could have formed within a billion years after the "Big Bang." If so, according to these "experts," then "13 billion years ago, life could have arise and then died out." 

WERE THE DINOSAURS OBLITERATED IN VIOLENT "ASTEROID COLLISIONS" 65 MILLION YEARS AGO  AND THEN EARTH'S OCEANS FORMED A MERE 4.4.MILLION YEARS AGO AND LIFE CREATED FROM A "PRE-BIOTIC SOUP"

                  In what is really just humanistic imaginary speculations, we are moving rapidly in time! No, this writer did not make up those above incredible suppositions. They actually appeared in an article in the USA Today entitled "Life from Asteroid Collisions?" that was published Dec. 2, 2008 (5D).

                According to this article, the earth's oceans were formed when "lunar crafters" suffered a "bombardment" from "comet asteroids" which somehow miraculously resulted in a "pre-biotic" soup that created life! Or did this "soup" (as the article poses) result as a consequence of the "impact of an "extra-terrestrial collision?

                At any rate, this "pre-biotic" soup produced the "organic molecules" that were "necessary for life's origins." Believe it or not, the "long list of ingredients" in the "pre-biotic soup" just kept getting "larger" over millions/thousands of years of time, with the molecule soup somehow resulting in "life." Not surprisingly, that article is filled with "might haves" and "perhaps" conjectures.

DID "DINOSAURS"  "DANCE" ON THE FLOOR JUST 190 MILLION YEARS AGO?

                The above title constitutes the next news article in our "fantasy" journey into the evolutionary world? The Intelligence Journal, Lancaster, PA for Oct.10, 2008 (D10) has an article titled "Geologists Discover 'Dinosaur Dance Floor'" that supposedly offers "a rich new set of clues about the lives of dinosaurs 190 million years ago" who existed in the dry Arizona-Utah climate.

                The footprints supposedly reveal that the dinosaurs met in a "wet" watery spot in the dry desert Winston Seiler, who "studied the site for a master's thesis," stated that the site "was a place that attracted a crowd, kind of like a dance floor." According to Seiler, the dinosaurs were apparently so "happy to be in this place, that the spot kind of resembled a modern "dancing" floor. 

DID "PRIMATE LIFE" BEGIN 38 MILLION YEARS AGO?

                Taking another giant time leap, an article in The Detroit News [MI], dated July 3, 2009 (13A) informs us that "primate life" may have begun over "38 million years ago," with recently discovered "jawbones and teeth.” A "paleontologist" at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, alleged that the fossils belonged to an "extinct family of Asian Anthropoid primates known as Amphipithecidae."  Ed: Can you imagine proudly telling someone that your family background dates back to the "Amphipithecidae's" family?

DID "WOMEN EVOLVE MORE SPINE" 2 MILLION YEARS AGO "TO CARRY BABIES?"

                Our final stop in this incredulous evolutionary trip deals with an internet article from LiveScience entitled "Women Evolve More Spine to Carry Babies" that was published on Dec. 12, 2008. Researchers who studied these "hominid fossils" that purportedly lived 2 million years in Kenya, Africa named this imaginary evolutionary species as the "Australopithecus."

                The vertebrae of these "early humans" supposedly "evolved" at least "two million years ago" as their spines adapted "into an upright position" so that these "human ancestors" began to "walk upright." The result was that these "four-legged ape ancestors didn't have to accommodate for the extra baby weight because their babies just hung lower and there was no significant shift in the center of gravity.

                These footprints have been hailed by "scientists" as the "earliest evidence of modern upright walking." Just think how grateful women today can be for such wonderful ape ancestors? You can now walk upright because of the "Australopithecus" female apes! Oh, yes, we forgot to tell you that we found another article about this same discovery. There is only one minor problem: That 2nd article claims the footprints are dated back  1.51 to 1.53 million years ago, just a slight 500,000 year differential!

CONCLUSION

                Like it or not, since NO evolutionist or creationist advocate was there when either the universe's creation or the creation of humanity occurred, both camps must accept by faith their postulations. Isn't it much more credible and logical to believe the simple statements of Scripture concerning creation and to accept them by faith as genuine, factual and true than the foolish incredulous guesses and outlandish speculations of unbelieving critics.  D. J.

                Heb. 11:6: "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is  a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."


  JUNE - JULY  2011  The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given. The above item is a sample of the numerous timely articles that are contained in the bi-monthly issues of The Fundamentalist Digest.
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17Aug/11

Christ is My Life

Colossians 3:4, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." I thank God today for His grace - the desire and the power to do His will. It is all of grace. Recently, I was meditating on a song (see below) and thought of all the positions, titles, graces, and mercy I enjoy. Not because of anything I am, but everything He is, and has gifted me. I trust you will meditate today on some of these for yourself:

I Stand Redeemed

When I think of all my faults and all my failures,

When I consider all the times I've let God down,

I'm humbled by the grace He has extended,

I'm amazed at the mercy I have found;

I could never earn His love on my own,

Yet every time I come before His throne,

Chorus: I stand redeemed by the blood of the Lamb,

I stand redeemed before the great I Am,

When He looks at me, He sees the nail-scarred hands,

That bought my liberty,

I stand redeemed

In Christ, I am ...

  1. I am faithful. (Ephesians 1:1)
  2. I am God's child. (John 1:12)
  3. I have been justified. (Romans 5:1)
  4. I am Christ's friend. (John 15:15)
  5. I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  6. I am a member of Christ's body. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
  7. I am assured all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)
  8. I am a citizen of heaven. (Philippians 3:20)
  9. I am hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
  10. I am spirit-disciplined. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  11. I am holy and blameless. (Ephesians 1:4)
  12. I am adopted as His child. (Ephesians 1:5)
  13. I am in Him. (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30)
  14. I have redemption. (Ephesians 1:8)
  15. I am forgiven. (Ephesians 1:8; Colossians 1:14)
  16. I have purpose. (Ephesians 1:9 & 3:11)
  17. I have hope. (Ephesians 1:12)
  18. I am included. (Ephesians 1:13)
  19. I am sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13)
  20. I am a saint. (Ephesians 1:18)
  21. I am salt and light of the earth. (Matfthew 5:13-14)
  22. I am a personal witness of Jesus Christ. (Acts 1:8)
  23. I am God's co-worker. (2Corinthians 6:1)
  24. I am a minister of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)
  25. I am alive with Christ. (Ephesians 2:5)
  26. I am raised up with Christ. (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12)
  27. God has expressed His kindness to me. (Ephesians 2:7)
  28. I am God's workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)
  29. I have peace. (Ephesians 2:14)
  30. I have access to the Father. (Ephesians 2:18)
  31. I am a member of God's household. (Ephesians 2:19)
  32. I am secure. (Ephesians 2:20)
  33. I am a holy temple. (Ephesians 2:21; 1 Corinthians 6:19)
  34. I am a dwelling for the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
  35. I share in the promise of Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:6)
  36. God's power works through me. (Ephesians 3:7)
  37. I know there is a purpose for my sufferings. (Ephesians 3:13)
  38. I am completed by God. (Ephesians 3:19)
  39. I can bring glory to God. (Ephesians 3:21)
  40. I have been called. (Ephesians 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:9)
  41. I can mature spiritually. (Ephesians 4:15)
  42. I can have a new attitude and a new lifestyle. (Ephesians 4:21-32)
  43. I can be kind and compassionate to others. (Ephesians 4:32)
  44. I can forgive others. (Ephesians 4:32)
  45. I have righteousness and truth. (Ephesians 5:8-9)
  46. I can understand what God's will is. (Ephesians 5:17)
  47. I can give thanks for everything. (Ephesians 5:20)
  48. I don't have to always have my own agenda. (Ephesians 5:21)
  49. I can honor God through marriage. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
  50. I can be strong. (Ephesians 6:10)
  51. I have God's power. (Ephesians 6:10)
  52. I can stand firm in the day of evil. (Ephesians 6:13)
  53. I am dead to sin. (Romans 1:12)
  54. I am not alone. (Hebrews 13:5)
  55. I am growing. (Colossians 2:7)
  56. I am His disciple. (John 13:15
  57. I am prayed for by Jesus Christ. (John 17:20-23)
  58. I am united with other believers. (John 17:20-23)
  59. I am not in want. (Philippians 4:19)
  60. I possess the mind of Christ. (I Corinthians 2:16)
  61. I am promised eternal life. (John 6:47)
  62. I am promised a full life. (John 10:10)
  63. I am victorious. (I John 5:4)
  64. I am chosen and dearly loved. (Colossians 3:12)
  65. I am blameless. (I Corinthians 1:8)
  66. I am set free. (Romans 8:2; John 8:32)
  67. I am crucified with Christ. (Galatians 2:20)
  68. I am a light in the world. (Matthew 5:14)
  69. I am more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)
  70. I am the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  71. I am safe. (I John 5:18) I am part of God's kingdom. (Revelation 1:6)
  72. I am healed from sin. (I Peter 2:24)
  73. I am no longer condemned. (Romans 8:1, 2)
  74. I am not helpless. (Philippians 4:13)
  75. I am overcoming. (I John 4:4)
  76. I am persevering. (Philippians 3:14)
  77. I am protected. (John 10:28)
  78. I am born again. (I Peter 1:23)
  79. I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  80. I am delivered. (Colossians 1:13)
  81. I am redeemed from the curse of the Law. (Galatians 3:13)
  82. I am qualified to share in His inheritance. (Colossians 1:12)
  83. I am victorious. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Trust you will have a wonderful day "In Him".

Benjamin R. Burks

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