Corey Jones and I just returned home from a three-week ministry trip to Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand. My mind and heart are still trying to comprehend and process everything that we saw, did, and experienced on this trip. When it was all completed, we ministered to nearly 20 different nationalities in 3 countries, we completed 17 services—including two conferences—and survived 1 bus trip, 2 train rides, 3 cab rides, and 13 flights.
Many of us are familiar with the story of Lot’s wife. While fleeing the city of Sodom, the angels of the Lord gave Lot and his family a very specific command: “Do not look behind you” (Genesis 19:17). The city was under judgement and God was about to rain down brimstone and fire. As Lot and his family were escaping to the city of Zoar, Lot’s wife looked back and was instantly turned to a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).
Conflict seems to be inevitable, even in the church. In the book of Acts, we see the number of disciples in the early church growing rapidly. The apostles were delivering the Word with great power, miracles were taking place, and needs were being fulfilled throughout the community of faith. However, in the midst of all this kingdom activity a complaint arose (Acts 6:1).
Pugnacious, what does that mean? This word shows up twice in the Bible (NASB): First Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7. In both cases, Paul had listed qualifications for leaders and pugnacious is found in the lists. For example, an overseer must be above reproach, married to one spouse, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine, gentle, peaceable, and free from the love of money. Near the end of that list, Paul wrote an overseer is not to be pugnacious (1 Timothy 3:3).
The influence that one person can have over other people is nearly incalculable. Throughout history there have been men and women who, because of their lives, have impacted and even transformed the lives of generations to come. This fact, however, is never more apparent than in the contrast between Adam and Christ. Both individuals influenced the entire human race. Through one man, death entered the entire human population and through another, life was given. More specifically, “In Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Have you ever found yourself surrounded by volatile situations that threatened to scorch you? Maybe you are in the middle of a heated family battle or a work related issue. Perhaps your marriage is in trouble or you’re surrounded by a church crisis. All of us at one time will journey through the fire, but the Bible says, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you” (Isaiah 43:2).
I’m never more blessed than when I am flying somewhere or sitting in a coffee shop and I’m asked about my faith. Not long ago, I was flying to a meeting and was asked by the person sitting next to me what I was reading. The premise of the book concerned Christian ministry. Believing this was an opportunity to release love, listen to this person, and eventually let Jesus be evident, I took the risk to share my heart. That two hour flight went by quickly, but what the Holy Spirit did will most certainly last for a lifetime if not for all eternity.
A sobering thought came over me not long ago. I was thinking about how much activity a local church does for itself. I’m not against ministries that build up the body of Christ, but in comparison to the time spent in actually touching those who are outside of the faith, we might need to reconsider. That also includes the time that we spend praying for ourselves, our needs, and our own personal and corporate problems.
Jesus said, "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye" (Matthew 7:1-3)? The context of this passage addresses and challenges how we handle several issues such as judging, critically over analyzing, and hypocrisy. The most riveting part, for me anyway, is when Jesus stated, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye?" Why do we look at the speck? Notice that Jesus doesn't condemn the ministry of "speck removing." He stated, however, that the obscurity must be removed from our own eyes first so we would be able to accurately see the issue needing to be removed from our brother. Therefore, revealing the true motive in our heart concerning the person and the speck that we identified.
The Bible talks about how good and pleasant it is when believers dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1). In the book of Acts, we read how the early believers were together and had all things in common (Acts 2:44). There is healing and provision in biblical community, not to mention the joy of deep, authentic relationships. Biblical community provides opportunities for spiritual growth, discipleship, equipping, and deployment into the harvest fields to reach people for Jesus.