Posts Tagged With: ministry

Who is Jesus? The Prophet… The Priest… and the King!

One of the biggest challenges that we as believers in Christ will face today is trying to answer what would seem to be an easy question. This question is, “Who is Jesus?” Unfortunately today, “There are many misconceptions concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. False religions have portrayed Jesus Christ as everything from a space alien to merely a myth. Many people believe that Jesus was only a prophet” (Stewart). So how does one combat these misconceptions? As grandiose as many people would like to believe, not everyone that enters ministry will be the senior pastor of a mega-church. Therefore, we as Christ followers should be more realistic and error on the side of personal interaction. This begins by having full knowledge of how we would answer the question of Christ’s identify to the unbeliever on the street. Therefore, for one to truly know who Jesus is, they must come to identify Him through the offices He held. As this article will show, to know Christ is to recognize what it means for Jesus to have held the offices of the prophet, the priest, and the king.

As God’s ultimate messenger, it should come as no surprise that Jesus was labeled as a prophet. Unfortunately, today the confusion begins when man redefines the meaning of prophets to correspond with their own inability to understand. In doing so, they weaken the meaning of the term. In scripture, biblical prophets were identified as individuals whom God conveyed His message through. When looking at Christ’s role, we see that as a prophet, His public ministry was profoundly impacted. Jesus was so determined to speak to the people that He would travel from synagogue to synagogue. He did this so that He could tell of the good news of the forthcoming Kingdom. Jesus not only declared the good news, “He also challenged the sinfulness of people and their hard-heartedness against God, especially pointing out the hypocrisy of religious leaders” (Thorsen 202). Clearly, Jesus had an encouraging prophetic ministry; so prophetic that He even told of a future day when He would return. “‘My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am’” (John 14:2-3).

The priestly office of Christ was dramatically different from that of a prophet messenger. In today’s culture a priest is known as an intercessor or bridge between God and humanity. While in early biblical times, the priest was responsible for offering sacrifices to God on the behalf of others. Although different time periods, these definitions of a priest seem fitting for the sacrifice that Christ provided to atone for humanities sins. Furthermore, prior to Christ’s death, part of the Jews religious beliefs centered upon sacrificing animals. When viewing Christ as High Priest, “He actually combines two institutions of the sacrificial system: He is the priest who offers the sacrifice and He is the sacrifice. He did not enter Heaven with the blood of animals but through His own blood, and as a result, we are sanctified once and for all” (Eckman). With Christ’s atonement for our sins, the need for Levitical sacrifices to compensate for man’s sins are no longer needed. In its place, comes a new covenant relationship between God and man provided by the priestly office of our Savior Jesus Christ.

The third office that Christ holds is that of King. Unlike earthly kings that establish their reign through force and intimidation, Jesus’ rule was not established by instilling fear in the hearts of men. “His kingdom is not physical in regard to His people, but one in which they choose to become a part of His kingdom by placing themselves under His Lordship, voluntarily; turning away from serving the god of this world, Lucifer” (Renz). The reason that Christ’s kingship is so widely accepted is because it is based upon four facets of His life; His reign was predicted, presented, proclaimed, and it is preeminent. From the very beginning, the Book of Genesis predicts Christ’s birth by a woman, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Next, Christ’s kingship is presented numerous times in the New Testament. In fact, “Matthew refers to Jesus as king 14 times, Mark refers to Him as king 6 times, Luke refers to Him as king 5 times, and John refers to Him as king 14 times” (Renz). Thirdly, Christ Himself makes the first proclamation of His kingship in the Gospel of Mark where He claims, “‘The time has come,’ He said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:15). Last, Christ can only be our King if one makes a choice. We must allow Him to reign over our hearts by allowing Him to sit on the throne of our lives. For as the scriptures confirm, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

In the confines of ministry, no matter if you are a theological major or saved for only one day, there is substantial biblical evidence to support and help all Christians convey who Jesus Christ is. Yet for some reason, many still feel that they do not have the communication skills needed to minister to others. However, what they fail to realize is that, “When the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed, it does ‘not come by itself,’ that is ‘simply with words.’ Rather, when God’s Word is preached it is accompanied by work of the Holy Spirit” (Malone). Without the Holy Spirit working inside us, no extent of eloquent words will lead men and women to an act of repentance before the Lord. Therefore, one should place less emphasis on our words trying to bring forth personal transformation, and keep in mind that the weapon we bare to wage war in the spiritual battle is the Sword of the Spirit (The Bible).

In summary, Jesus Christ has come to be identified by many different titles. And at times, some have even referred to Him as just a good man. Yet for those of us who believe in Christ, we recognize that for one to truly know who Jesus is, one must come to identify Him through the offices that He held; the offices of the prophet, the priest, and the king. Two-thousand years has passed since Jesus Christ has left this earth, yet many still do not know the answer to one of life’s most important questions, “Who is Jesus?” It is a question that even Jesus Himself asked of His own disciples, “‘But who do you say that I am?’” And while we may not have a front row seat before Jesus today, rest assured as you walk out amongst the world you will have just as many chances to answer this question. It may come in the form of your next-door neighbor, your boss, your postman, or even the barista at your local coffee house. But it will be just as important as answering it directly before Christ. The only question that remains then, when faced with these opportunities, “Who will you say that He is?”

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Eckman, David. “Christ the High Priest.” Whatgodintended.com. 2011. Web. April 21, 2011.

Malone, Kelly. “Evangelism and Proclaiming The Gospel of Jesus Christ In A Fallen World.” Crosswalk.com. September 07, 2007. Web. April 21, 2011.

Renz, Art. “Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Hissheep.org. 2011. Web. April 21, 2011.

Stewart, David J. “Misconceptions Concerning Christ.” Jesus-is-savior.com. 2011. Web. April 21, 2011.

Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. Print.

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Faith Ops – Video Games as Ministry

GAMER. Just the mere mention of the word, conjures up images of lethargic teens glued to a couch while barking taunts into a headset. They are a curious sect to many; surviving on a diet of Cheetos and Mountain Dew while hibernating in the dark lair known as their parent’s basement. Then throw in a couple incidents where troubled-teens mention a video game because their not man enough to admit their responsible for their own actions, and you’ve got society labeling gamers as boys living ‘on the edge,’ who are one Red Bull away from marching into a high school with a handgun and re-enacting the exploits of their pixelated heroes. While this may seem a bit too cliché, unfortunately this is the ‘stereotype’ that mainstream America believes the life of a gamer is all about.

“Put down that silly controller, get outside, go play baseball, or hop on your bike and go out for a ride with your friends.” Yes, the argument could be made that these activities are not only a million times healthier, but also socially engaging as well. Likewise, video games today have become so realistic that their graphic images do seem to warrant parental guidance. However, this is not the premise for which this article is being written. As a gamer myself, I grew up with the introduction of the first video game ‘Pong’ and have seen the evolution of video game entertainment transform over the years. Looking back it still amazes me that gaming has evolved from a ball and two paddles, to now having the ability to control an entire universe of digitized soldiers while lounging on my couch in the confines of my home.

Stereotypes aside, today the video game industry is a multi-billion dollar business. Yet, while much of society believes that gamers are nothing more than a bunch of socially awkward teenage boys, statistically this could not be farther from the truth. As the Entertainment Software Association confirms, “As of 2011, the average age for a video game player is 37, a number slowly increasing as people who were children playing the first arcade, console, and home computer games continue playing now on current systems. The gender distribution of gamers is also reaching equilibrium, according to a 2011 study showing that 58% of gamers are male and 42% female” (The ESA). This being said, the stereotypical gamer really is not whom society determines them to be.

If you are a parent, I concede the point that video games have become far too violent. Violent behavior, vengeance, and aggression are often looked upon as a reward rather than a negative in today’s modern video games. And as a pastor I have struggled with the thought if I should be playing these types of games; so much that at one point about a year ago I was seriously contemplating getting rid of my game system all together. Then late one night while playing my favorite game series ‘Call of Duty’ an Xbox Live message popped up on my screen. To my surprise the message said, “Do you know Jesus?” Immediately I quit my game and contacted the sender of the message, Daniel Beck who goes by the gamertag BornAgain2001. Over the course of the next few months a camaraderie and mentorship began to take shape between us. Daniel began to share with me a calling that God had placed in his heart years ago.

“As men of God, we are identified by many titles: son, father, husband, Christ Follower. But identify yourself as a ‘gamer’ and instantly you’re looked upon as a ‘trouble maker’ or ‘unmotivated freethinker’ who is not truly following Christ,” Daniel said. “Yes, games can be negative. But turning away from evil does not mean that we are called to ignore that it exists in the world,” he concluded. As scripture asserts, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). And this was the motivation behind Daniel taking a leap of faith and founding the Christian Gamer Community called “The 116 Boyz.”

Founded in June of 2012, The 116 Boyz fashioned there name after Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:16). The group exists so that Christian male gamers of all ages can enjoy online gaming while incorporating biblical principles and fellowship within the gaming community. This ministry covers all game spectrums and all game consoles to include Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, and PC Gamers. While on the surface, it may appear that gaming is their reason for existence. When a member takes on the coveted role as a 116 Boyz Disciple, they affirm to be Salt and Light to an ever-dimming world. As Daniel says, “We exist to lead those who are lost to Christ; and also to pour our lives into believers who seek a place of community and fellowship with other Christian believers. While we love our gaming, at the end of the day when we lay our controllers down, it’s not about who is the best player; but who has made the most impact of ministering into the lives of online gamers for Jesus Christ!”

While Christian Gamers is not a new idea, The 116 Boyz do try and set themselves apart amongst other Christian gaming organizations. Like other gaming ministries, they conduct weekly Bible studies online and provide inspirational messages of hope and guidance on their website. However, Daniel was determined that The 116 Boyz was not to be just another gaming ministry. To be part of The 116 Boyz, members must adhere to a very strict code of conduct. A code that expects all members to reach out and minister to gamers each time they log-on to multiplayer type games. Additionally, “Followers of Christ come to us at many different points in their spiritual walk. Life sometimes deals us a hand we don’t know how to play. Therefore, I am thankful that we have an ordained on-call pastor available 24-hours a day for counseling and spiritual guidance. I believe this is what really sets our community of gamers apart,” Daniel said.

Since it’s inception, The 116 Boyz have multiplied to over 150 members in just 2-months! Needless to say, if you spend anytime on ‘Call of Duty’ multiplier games, you’re likely to come across a 116 Boy a time or two. With gamertags like Gods Gladiator, x iPastor x, and Jesus Possessed, it becomes a little easier to identify whom it’s members are. But the really standout attribute is found by those who are defeated during ‘Call of Duty’ multiplayer missions. When a person is slain in the game, the other opponent’s Call Sign Tag is displayed. 116 Boyz take advantage of this feature and use the clan tag option to display scriptures (seen below). With the current number of members playing ‘Call of Duty’ the Word of God is being flashed to Xbox live opponents at a staggering rate per hour. And as most people are aware, this can be a very powerful ministry tool as history has proven. During the 2009 College National Championship game, Tim Tebow wore John 3:16 on his eye black; the result, “John 3:16” was searched for on Google more than 90 million times.

One great thing about the 116 Boyz ministry is that it provides parents with a piece of mind about whom their children are friends with online. There’s no doubt that today’s online community can be a doorway that leads down a road of rejection, hostility, and impropriety. For normal youth this is bad enough, but for Christian gamers it can be detrimental to one’s spiritual walk. As 13-year old Kyler Moses, who goes by the gamertag KylerM1999 said, “Before the 116 Boyz, my parents disliked that I was involved with a Call of Duty Clan. The clan swore and verbally attacked other gamers. This is not what men of God are supposed to do. Now my parents love that I am involved with brothers who share my beliefs and make it a point to lift me up so that I remain faithful to what God calls me to do with my life.”

There are many critics that would argue that due to the nature of these games, Christians should not be playing them. Like anything, I believe the most important thing to ask yourself is why you are playing them and what’s the condition of your heart? I have personally witnessed 16-gamers in an online room about to start playing a ‘Modern Warfare 3’ match and hear, “Does anyone have any prayer requests?” And then there was the night when that simple casting of your nets question, “Do you know Jesus?” led a 28-year old man in London, England to Christ. So to say that all gamers, and games for that matter are inherently evil would be callous and unwarranted.

After reading this, maybe you’re still not convinced that gaming can be a real and authentic means of ministry. But as 1 Peter 2:5 says, “You are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.” Just because gaming or any other activity isn’t for you, doesn’t mean that those who choose to participate aren’t making a huge impact for God’s kingdom. In today’s society, it’s very easy to become a spectator for Christ’s ministry and not one of His disciples. How often do we spend time on the sidelines of life acting more like an armchair quarterback saying, “I would never do it like that.” Yet, no matter if it’s sports, dance, or yes gaming, we all should seek to find our niche and participate; for everyone of us is a stone for which God to use. I’d like to close with a quote from one of our great former Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt who once said: “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out where the strong stumbled or how the doer could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is in the arena, his face marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and falls short again and again: There is no effort without error.” In the end, the one that claims the victory is the one who gets out there and does something. It’s the one who is determined to live by the motto, “leave no man behind.” And it is the one that when others are running away from conflict; is seen running into the conflict. It is the Christian Gamer’s ‘Medal of Honor.’ A medal earned on the ‘Battlefield,’ and for members of the 116 Boyz, it is our ‘Call of Duty.’

If you are interested in becoming a member of The 116 Boyz, please visit http://116boyz.com for more information.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
“Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry.” The ESA. Web. August 24, 2012.

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I'm a Pastor… And I Carry a Gun

On any given Sunday, many pastoral leaders around the country begin there day in similar fashion. Eat a hardy breakfast… check. Spend alone time in prayer… check. Grab their Bible… check. And load one high-velocity round into their semi-automatic handgun…. check. Sadly, this has become a very real scenario for many of us who have accepted the call into ministry. While pastors who arm themselves have become a very controversial subject, there’s no denying that the alarming rise in church shootings have led members of clergy to reevaluate if the Word of God is really the only protection they need to be carrying.

Before I begin, let me state where I personally stand on this issue. I am an ordained minister that believes that the primary weapons for spiritual warfare is the Bible and prayer. However, I also believe that God’s Word not only condones self-defense, but also mandates the protection of one’s family (Exodus 22:2; Luke 22:6). While most of my time in ministry may not be spent at the helm of a pulpit, writing for my own website and three international news organizations has led me to obtain a very large web presence. With that comes hails of praise and thankfulness; but also those people that Jesus warned about, “You will be hated by everyone because of my name” (Matthew 10:22). There have been many times where disagreeing with my views on faith have escalated past the point of mere theological indifference. And the chance of someone harming my family or myself has become a very real threat. Therefore, not only do I have a concealed weapons permit, but I carry a gun on me at all times. While some may disagree with my view on this issue, let me state that I openly declare, I am a pastor… And I carry a gun.

In 2007, I was a member of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On December 9th of that year, a gunman entered the church and quickly turned this house of worship into the devils own personal playground. Just after the second service had let out, a gunman identified as Matthew Murray age 24, entered the church and opened fire. In the wake of the shooting, four people were injured, and two sisters Rachel and Stephanie Works were senselessly killed. Thankfully the nightmare ended when a church security volunteer, shot and wounded the gunman who then turned his gun on himself. Having this incident occur so close to home in my former church, I know all too well that the threat of violence against clergy members is very real. In fact, as the statics show, Deadly Force Incidents at Faith-Based Organizations in the United States is climbing at an alarming rate. Since January 2009 until present, there have been 568 incidents of violence on church grounds or ministries. Of those incidents, 398 people were killed (Chinn).

While attacks in church buildings in particular have awakened the attention of many Christians, there are still many that hold to the belief that those called to ministry should not bear arms. It is not my intent to write this article to debate these two opposing views. However, it is my intent to show why I firmly believe that the right to bear arms in not only a constitutional right, but also a biblically accepted mandate. A mandate that many parishioners may not be aware that pastoral leaders are secretly embracing. In fact, there are very few pastoral leaders that I personally know that don’t carry a concealed weapon today.

If you are one that disagrees with ministry leaders carrying weapons I would like to turn my focus directly to you. As Christians, the use of force in the preservation of life is a biblical doctrine. As the prophet Ezra wrote, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14). Other scriptural passages include Proverbs 24:10-12; Exodus 22:2; and John 15:13–14. Now I’m not saying that all pastors should just go out and buy a firearm without being trained. As scripture details, those whom took up arms were often shown as being skilled to do so. “Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss” (Judges 20:16). These scriptures where not provided by God as a means to authorize harming others; but illustrate that we do have a right and obligation to defend life, liberty, and property in the midst of a fallen world and an ever declining government.

With respect to those that state, “Well Jesus never carried a weapon.” You’re right, Jesus never carried a weapon but His disciples did. Let me turn your attention to Luke Chapter 22 where Jesus Himself said, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). In those days, a sword was the most lethal weapon that a person could carry on them as opposed to a firearm today. Remember also one of Jesus’ most widely used assertions today, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). There are two very important things to take from this statement. First, when Jesus told Peter to “Put your sword back in its place,” where was “its place?” It was at Peter’s side, which was concealed under his cloak somewhere. Secondly, Jesus’s makes the statement, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Interestingly enough, Jesus did not rebuke Peter for having a weapon. His words were representative of only using a weapon as means of defense, and never as means of cold-blooded murder. In fact, there is no question that Jesus knew that His disciples where “packing” so to speak. At the Last Supper, Jesus’ disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” Jesus replied (Luke 22:38).

One of Jesus’ favorite metaphors that He liked to use was about the role of a shepherd; for a shepherd has many roles. He provides food, correction, support, leadership, comfort, and yes protection to the flock. In fact, the word pastor means shepherd, “a person who tends to God’s flock.” This is a responsibility of every church leader today. While sheep are cute and fluffy, they have one huge disadvantage; sheep have almost no means of defense without the aide of the shepherd. While they may be able to run away, they really can’t kick, bite or scratch their way out of harms way. This makes them easy prey. Therefore, sheep need protection, and the protection of the shepherd is where they find it. However, in the role of protector, I believe that scripture clearly shows that it IS NOT the role of a pastor to carry a weapon as means of providing personal security to the flock. As Luke wrote in the Book of Acts, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them (Acts 20:28-30).” I believe this to be a very important passage to the true role of pastoral leaders. As protectors, pastors are called to provide spiritual protection of the flock and keep them from going astray and defend them against the savage wolves who may try and ravage them. With this in mind, I do believe that it is a pastor’s obligation to insure proper security is in place by security teams within the church. As the Apostle Paul exhorts in his farewell speech to the church at Ephesus, leaders must “Be on guard” for themselves and “for all the flock” (Acts 20:28).

Still, there are many critics today that believe that if a pastor, or security teams have to carry a gun then there is a lack of faith that God will protect him, his family, or members of the congregation. Is it a lack of faith? Absolutely not. Just because it’s a church building, are people really any safer inside than those outside of a church? As someone who has endured a church shooting and witnessed the aftermath of such horror, we need to come to the realization that churches are no longer off limits. Some say that it is a house of worship, and there is no place for weapons of death in such a place. To those critics I would say, you’re right. But unfortunately, those looking to harm others don’t see it that way.

As an ordained man of God I wholeheartedly follow the sixth commandment, “Thou shall not murder.” To murder is defined as, “The unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.” When a person, in this case a pastor, chooses to carry a weapon in self-defense it is not being done with the intent to commit murder. I for one hold to the biblical command to take reasonable precautions for the self-defense of my family and my personal safety. Yes, my primary weapon of choice will always be the Bible, prayer, and faith; but as a follower of Christ I must also remain vigilant with the knowledge that, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come” (Mark 7:21). We live in a fallen world and the Bible warns that in the last days we will live in “perilous times” because of the increase in evil character of man and people who actively “resist the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-9).

In closing, I would love to say that working in full-time ministry is all about joy and happiness where the love of God flows through everyone; and to be honest, most of the time it is. But unfortunately as many ministry leaders recognize, there is a very dark-side to ministry as well. A side where the forces of evil are very real and Satan really does use flesh and blood people to carry forth horrific acts of evil that can only be thwarted with physical protection. There are some that stand on the defense of, “How could anyone shoot a child of God?” Look, I hope that if I ever have to draw my weapon in self-defense it will be merely enough to show them my weapon and deter them from acting in violence. But one must also remember that if the time arises, it will not be a child of God whom you are likely to be defending yourself from. Rather those, whom are consumed by evil that do not have the love of Christ flowing within them; in fact, it may be someone so fueled with hatred towards Christians that they derive great pleasure from the suffering or death of others. In the event I, another pastor, or a Christian for that matter must pull our weapons in defense of ourselves, our families, or other believers, we would not be shooting a child of God. Instead, we may be the one God chose to protect a child of God by being properly trained and fully equipped to use lethal force to save a life. While some may still disagree with my and other pastoral leaders views around the world, there is no denying that in scripture Jesus is found telling His disciples to carry swords as they prepare to go out and evangelize. Therefore, if Jesus’ disciples carried swords… then shouldn’t a pastor carry a gun?

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Chinn, Charles “Security!? In a Church” http://www.carlchinn.com. 2009-2012. Web. August 17, 2012.

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