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Rebel on the Mountain of Eden!

The long war between God and the lesser gods who rebelled began on a mountain, and it will end on a mountain.

First things first: The rebel gods are real. That’s not something you’re likely to hear in church. Not only have we been taught that the pagan deities of the ancient world were imaginary, most American Christians today don’t even believe in Satan or the Holy Spirit.

That’s not an exaggeration. The Barna Group found in a 2009 survey of American Christians that only about one in three believes Satan is real and not just a concept. Likewise, nearly 60% of American Christians said they didn’t believe the Holy Spirit is living entity. So it’s not surprising that when we think of Baal, Asherah, Moloch, Dagon, Chemosh, Marduk, and the rest of the pagan pantheon mentioned in the Bible (if we think of them at all), we assume they were nothing more than lifeless blocks of wood and stone.

We couldn’t be more wrong.

The true story begins on a mountain: Eden.

But wait, you say. Eden was a garden! Yes, it was. A garden on a mountain.

In Ezekiel 28, God tells the divine rebel from Eden:

You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
    in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.

Ezekiel 28:14 (ESV), emphasis added

If you read the Old Testament carefully, you’ll notice many references to God’s holy mountain. The prophets knew that the war between the rebellious fallen gods and the Creator was all about who would establish their holy mountain—the “mount of assembly” or “mount of the congregation”—as supreme. The most obvious reference is in Isaiah 14, a section of scripture that scholars generally agree is a parallel to Ezekiel 28:

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.

Isaiah 14:12-15 (ESV), emphasis added

Over the course of this special five-week series, we’ll dig deeper into the conflict between God and the rebels and explore the importance of cosmic mountains. We’ll identify key battles in the long war and lay out a prophetic scenario for the final battle of this age.

Above all, we’ll show you a glimpse of this long war in the heavenlies, and where you can find it in the Bible. It’s a conflict that the prophets and apostles knew was real, but over the last two thousand years our churches have teaching us about it. With this war stripped out out of the Bible, we’re left with an incomplete story of God’s plan to save us from the gods who want to kill us and destroy everything we love.

So let’s start at the beginning. What do we know about the enemy? Was it a talking snake?

In a word, no.

So who or what was the serpent? Most of us assume it was Satan, but maybe not. The serpent isn’t named in the book of Genesis. In fact, Satan wasn’t even a personal name in the Old Testament.

Satan means “accuser,” written ha-shaitan in the OT. It’s a title, the satan, so it really means “the accuser.” Think of it as a job title, like prosecuting attorney.

The adversary in the Garden is the nachash, which is the word translated into English as “serpent.” It’s based on an adjective that means bright or brazen, like shiny brass. The noun nachash can mean snake, but it also means “one who practices divination.”

In Hebrew, it’s not uncommon for an adjective to be converted into a noun—the term is “substantivized.” If that’s the case here, nachash could mean “shining one.” And that’s consistent with other descriptions of the satan figure in the Old Testament.

For example, in Isaiah 14, the character called Lucifer in the King James translation, based on the Latin words chosen by Jerome (lux + ferous, meaning “light bringer”), is named in Hebrew Helel ben Shachar—”shining one, son of the dawn.”

Interestingly, Šahar was a Canaanite deity, so a better translation of the verse is “Day Star, son of Dawn.” And that leads to some interesting speculation about the nature and origin of Helel. Were Helel and Šahar two of the fallen gods who rebelled against Yahweh? But I digress.

Now, consider this in Daniel 10:

I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude.

Daniel 10:5-6 (ESV), emphasis added

Obviously, “shining one” is a pretty good description of the angel who battled the prince of Persia, another supernatural being, to bring his message to Daniel.

About 900 years before Daniel, when the Israelites started complaining on their way out of Egypt (see Numbers 21:4-9), God sent saraph nachash (“fiery serpents”), to bite them. Saraph is the root word of seraphim, which roughly means “burning ones.” But the key point of these verses in Numbers 21 is that the Hebrew words saraph and nachash are used interchangeably. So rather than “fiery serpents,” the translation should read “saraph serpents”.

Deuteronomy 8:15 praises Yahweh for bringing Israel through “the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents,” reinforcing the interchangeability of saraph and nachash.

Now, if the mental image of flaming snakes isn’t weird enough, the prophet Isaiah twice referred to flying serpents (saraph `uwph, in Isaiah 14:29 and 30:6). And in his famous throne room vision, Isaiah saw:

…the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

Isaiah 6:1-2 (ESV), emphasis added

Again, the root word of seraphim is saraph, the same word translated “serpent” in Numbers and Deuteronomy. In fact, aside from the Isaiah 6 passage above, every single mention of seraphim in the Old Testament refers to serpentine beings!

The flying serpent was a well-known symbol in the ancient Near East, especially in Egypt. It would have been very familiar to the Israelites. The uraeus, a cobra standing on its coil with its hood extended, was a royal symbol of protection used by pharaohs and Nubian kings. Tutankhamun’s death mask is an excellent example; the uraeus’ hood is depicted with six distinct sections that look a lot like wings.

Of course, some scholars cite this as evidence that the Hebrews’ understanding of seraphim was influenced by, or borrowed from, Egyptian cosmology. That’s a common message from skeptics—Israel copied its religion from its neighbors. We’ll deal with that later.

The bottom line is this: What Adam and Eve saw in the Garden wasn’t a talking snake, but a nachash—a radiant, divine entity, and one that very likely had a serpentine appearance.

Next month – The Cherubim: Throne Guardians of God

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Don’t Waste Your Time!

When Jesus sent the 70 out 2 by 2 he told them that if they were rejected to dust their feet off and leave town. He said to them, “Do not waste your time”! Another time Jesus said, “cast not pearls before swine lest they trample them under their feet”!

As a pastor it is very easy to feel that we have cast pearls before swine and that we have been rejected. The fact is, it is not you that has been rejected but Jesus. The Word of God is sharper than a two edged sword. It is quick to cut asunder the truth from the false and sin from the Holy!

Pastor, our question is “where and how do you invest your time?” If you are trying to convince people, perhaps you should consider the 70. If you are speaking to those who are insolent, hard hearted and religious, consider the swine.

As you are reflecting this week, consider the farmer. The farmer will sow his seed, fertilize the ground, water regularly, pull the weeds, re-plant where nothing has sprouted and ultimately harvest in the end. The farmer is quick to recognize where nothing is growing! He may first add a little fertilizer and try to encourage growth but when he sees that all is to no success, he must re-plant! He must start with new seed.

The farmer knows that if the seed is not growing he is wasting his time. Much like Jesus told the 70, don’t waste your time!

Pastor, if 10-20 percent of your flock is doing all the work and is hungry for Jesus, then consider spending 70-80 percent of your effort discipling and feeding them. Make them strong and healthy. Help their passion grow.

If they are the ones who are bearing fruit, then be sure to fertilize and water them as they grow and mature. Be a good farmer so that they will endure until the harvest.

This is why we say, “Invest in the best”! These are the ones who you can count on to stand strong with you and the Gospel!

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Leadership Words!

Leadership Words

Our words can get us into trouble or they can dissolve trouble. How well do you use your words in life as a leader? If you are not sure, just look at the relationships around you. Loving words can be like a warm breath on a lit candle that can easily extinguish a heart simmering with anger. “Please forgive me” can be just as powerful a collection of words as “I Love you with all my heart!”  In this article, we will consider the power of our words as it relates to us as Leaders of the WORD.

My father gave me great advice the day I got married. He said to me, “Son, when you and your wife get into an argument, watch your words. Once you say them, you cannot take them back.” Although I have not always practiced this seasoned piece of wisdom, I do understand the incredible importance of it. As a Leader, we have to stop and consider a few ways we can learn to weigh our words in our heart before they are spoken (or shot) out of our mouth?

In a time of drought, even the smallest bit of water can help a thirsty land. It can also help a drying heart. One of the first ways to weigh our words is to consider if they will be received as a cool glass of water or a mason jar of gas. Like the brittle grass during an absence of rain, is a heart that is hurting. The smallest spark can set it on fire. The words you choose will determine either a blessing or a blaze. Remember in meetings and gatherings, fires are good for roasting marshmallows, not each other.

Another way to weigh our words is to consider what your subordinates expect of you. If you are married, has your spouse ever said “I don’t need your solutions; I just need your sympathy”? Many of us are fixers and when it comes to talking with our spouses and those that work for (or with) us, less is often more. If you are not sure- ASK. This not only determines the content of your words, it also impacts the way you listen. You may even say something like, “How can I best assist you?” Try it next time- you might be surprised at the response.

I remember a poem by H.W. Longfellow that that said, “I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth, I knew not where; for, so swiftly it flew, the sight could not follow it in its flight.” A third way we weigh our words is to consider its target. Will the words be encouraging or confronting? Is the point of the words to affirm a good choice or to expose a bad one? Regardless of the arrow, the string that sends it flying should be that of love and respect. When we speak the truth in love (EPH. 4:15), we never have to worry about a stray arrow causing unnecessary injury.

Musician Tommy Shaw stated, “Timing is everything.” If that is true in music, it is also important in our words because all of life is relationships. Our next way to weigh our words comes not from the ticking of the clock as it is the cadence of the conversation. When you are about to say something to someone, especially when it is a heated discussion, ask yourself, “At this time, will he/she hear what I am about to say?” If you are unsure about the importance of timing, please consider the Prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-13.

As we close, I want to provide one more way to weigh our words and that is at the foot of the cross. Only when our words are first baptized in the waters of worship to God will we be able to bring a proper sacrifice of speech to the Lord’s altar of healing. Words matter. The Apostle John wrote “In the beginning was the word (Logos), and the Word was with God and the word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:1, 14). When we run our words through the Word, they will always come out with grace and not growl.

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The Command to “Love and Respect”

The Command to Love and Respect (Ephesians 5:33) “Nevertheless, let everyone of you in particular (speaking to husbands), so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence (respect) her husband.

(1) A husband is to obey the command to love, even if his wife does not obey the command to respect.

(2) A wife is to obey the command to respect, even if her husband does not obey the command to love.

(3) A husband is called to love a disrespectful wife.

(4) A wife is called to respect an unloving husband.

(5) There is no justification for a husband to say: “I will love my wife after she respects me; nor for a wife to say: I will respect my husband after he loves me.”

(6) When a husband feels disrespected, it’s very hard to love his wife.

(7) When a wife feels unloved, it is very hard to respect her husband.

(8) When a husband feels disrespected, he has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel unloving to his wife.

(9) When a wife feels unloved, she has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband.

(10) It is very important to understand – When someone reacts toward you, respond to them.

a. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

b. Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians 6:9).

c. Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord (Ephesians 6:8)

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Developing Leaders vs Gathering Followers

Developing Leaders vs. Gathering Followers

Your ultimate long‐term success as a leader will be determined by your ability to develop a team of leaders…those who know how to lead to the future and not just manage the present. In order to fulfill the vision, you must be able to guide the way the team works together in order to deliver the desired results.

Team success is the ability of their leader to rally all the team members to commit to the vision and common goals ‐ not because they have to, but because they want to.

Forming a team of mentally, emotionally, and spiritually mature leaders is worth your time and effort. The greater challenge is getting them to lay aside personal ambition and ideas for the sake of becoming a team centered only on the mission and vision. A group of followers working on the same effort is far different from a team of strategic‐thinking leaders focused on the same goals with a clear understanding and commitment to the same outcome‐based results.

Independent thinking team members normally focus on their own strengths, abilities and promote their own ideas of what success should look like. Most of the time, this leads to everyone pulling in different directions and momentum is lost, if it was ever there to begin with. As a leader, it is your primary task to inspire individual team members to check their ego at the door, set aside personal agendas and cultivate a passion for teamwork, team solutions and team wins. Look at yourself first.

Your top priority as a team leader, leader of leaders and most of all as a senior leader, is to have your team understand, focus and commit to the outcome‐based goals of the mission, vision, values and strategy. Without clarity about these four key elements, buy‐in by the team and commitment to work together as a team will never happen in any significant with developing leaders out of the followers you have gathered happens best when working together as a team is the only option. Team dynamics cannot develop in solo situations. Lone rangers, overbearing personalities and divisive behaviors have to be overcome and not tolerated for very long. As the leader, you must have the emotional strength and maturity to help clarify non‐productive behaviors in both strong‐willed and weak‐minded individuals. Somehow you must be able to persuade them to see the big picture; how every individual effort is not only valuable, but also vital to the team’s success.

Five principles critical for developing a team of leaders:

Provide adequate and accurate information; clarity about desired results and the rationale used to shape your views.

Anticipate and resolve conflicts quickly. As the leader, it’s your job to make sure overly competitive or domineering team members don’t exploit another’s vulnerability when discussing either positive or negative issues as they relate to the team’s on‐going efforts or final results.

Recruit, teach, train and deploy the right team members. Be slow to appoint so you won’t have to disappoint. No matter how talented they are, if their ego, personality and effort cannot complement the team, you have to decide what’s more important to you —individual contribution or the team’s success.

Provide prompt and adequate feedback. Waiting until the annual performance review means many significant coaching opportunities may be lost. Feedback for both individuals and the team as a whole is most effective in written form. And, I don’t mean the small and big wins on a regular basis.

Recognize and deal with promptly those that I refer to as “Vision Drainers.” The single biggest reason for teams not performing effectively and winning often is the emotional maturity of the leader. It often lies in the discomfort and sometimes the fear of giving honest feedback necessary to develop a group of followers into a team of leaders who win on a regular basis.

Remember, leaders who turn followers into leaders on a consistent basis are leaders who know what they are doing and why. Many times, there are those who give promise of being great leaders because of superficial personality and character traits. Intelligence, confidence and the ability to communicate are important. However, having all these does not mean they have the emotional maturity and ability to make good judgments, which are invaluable in turning followers into leaders.

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God’s Word is a Treasure “part one”

God’s Word is a treasure (Part 1)

Some people celebrated the Feast of Shavuot or Pentecost in early June. Christians generally call this feast Pentecost, while Jews call it Shavuot. The first thing which probably comes to mind for Christians who celebrate this Feast is that God gave His Ruach or Spirit to the disciples in Jerusalem on this Feast of the Lord.

This is true, but on this very feast day, God also gave His instructions or Torah to Moses at Mt. Sinai. God gave us both instructions for knowing Him, and how He wants us to live on the same day He gave us His Spirit. This makes sense because Yeshua (a.k.a. Jesus) said that the Spirit will teach us all things, and because the Spirit is the One who enables us to live according to God’s Instructions.

Dead Sea Scrolls

Since God’s Word is at the heart and soul of this Biblical Feast it is a great day to honor and study God’s Torah (Instructions). Between 1947 and 1956 the Dead Sea Scrolls (ancient manuscripts) were discovered in eleven caves near Qumran, near the Dead Sea. These manuscripts are approximately two thousand years old. Most of the scrolls were written in Hebrew, with a smaller number in Aramaic or Greek. … The vast majority of the scrolls survived as fragments – only a handful were found intact. Nevertheless, scholars have managed to reconstruct from these fragments approximately 850 different manuscripts of various lengths. Today you can go to the Shrine of the Book Museum in Jerusalem to view some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other rare ancient manuscripts. (http://www.english.imjnet.org.il/page_1348)

Some people who do not want to surrender to Yeshua say that since there are so many different translations of the Bible we can’t be sure if God’s Word is accurately translated today. But thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls, we can compare Bibles printed today with manuscripts printed 2,000 years, and be certain that the Bibles we read today declare the same wonderful truths they declared many years ago.

Sofer

Another reason you can be certain that we are reading the very same words in the Bible today that have always been printed in the Bible, is because Jewish people still have specially trained scribes called a sofer who copy the Torah word by word, and letter by letter. They write the Torah by hand and do so directly from a Torah Scroll that was written the very same way several hundred years ago. Since a sofer writes the Bible this way we can be absolutely certain that the words written in Torah Scrolls are the very same words that have always been written in the Torah.

It takes a scribe about a year to pen the 304,805 letters found in each and every Torah. A sofer must know more than 4,000 Judaic laws before he begins writing a Torah Scroll. God’s name is so holy that a scribe must bathe in a mikvah (ritual pool) before writing the Lord’s four-letter (Hebrew) name. This shows the deep reverence and respect God’s people have for God’s Word, and that they are committed to making sure that our Torah Scrolls are accurate.

Torah Processional

In a Jewish Worship Service the Torah is processed around the Sanctuary. During the processional, we are encouraged to take our tallit (prayer shawl), Bible or finger and touch the Torah and then bring it to our lips. We do this to express our desire that we want God’s Word to always be on our lips. It can also be seen as a reverse kiss so during Shabbat Services we have an opportunity to kiss God’s Word. Millions of people kiss the Blarney Stone when they go to Ireland. After a bumpy plane or boat ride, some people kiss the ground to express how grateful they are to be safely on the land. People kiss people and things they love, so shouldn’t we express our love for God’s Word in some way?

Torah is a Treasure

(Psalm 119:72 NIV) The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

King David was a very wealthy man and he felt that God’s Word was more precious than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. What about you? How much do you treasure or value God’s Torah?

(Psalm 119:11 NASB) Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.

In verse 11 David gives us one very important reason he treasured God’s Word. He laid up God’s Word in his heart so that he would not sin against God. We pursue things that are dear to our heart, and avoid things that we do not value or treasure. For this reason, David placed God’s Word in his heart so that God’s Instructions would direct him in how he lived his life. What have you treasured and stored up in your heart?

 

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The Power of CIA!

I know you are wondering what I am talking about. CIA is one of the first benefits we receive upon accepting Jesus Christ as our savior and exercising our faith by believing Him. Consistent CIA is required for every Christian to maintain a productive growing relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. CIA is Christian Identity Assurance. It is the clear fact of a Christian completely believing and being who God says he or she is.

The word Identity is defined as the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. God made us to be who and what He said we are. In Galatians 4:6-7 the bible says “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ”. This scripture and fact is absolutely clear. We as Christians are to refer to ourselves as sons of God with undeniable comfort in our spirit. We must exercise complete identity assurance in the facts of who God says we are. This means believe and behave as who God says you are. A son who sees his human father return home from work runs to the door to greet and embrace his father. A son of God should willingly want to greet and worship God without a pastor, leader or brethren asking him or her to do so. Church leaders would not need to call anyone who has Christian identity assurance to come to church. They would already know they are supposed to be in church.

We are taught in Psalm 8:6, “You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet”. This is a fact of the authority given to us. Anyone given authority is accountable for the use of the authority. Brothers and Sisters don’t leave your authorities resting in the pages of the bible. Scripture teaches us to whom much is given, much is required. Partner with the Holy Spirit to properly use the authority God has given you every day. The bible teaches us in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. This is a fact of the duties (good works) given to us. Anyone given duties is responsible to be available, flexible, teachable and trainable to perform the duties. Let Godly good works be our way of life at home, place of work and all other areas of our lives.

Finally, a believer who has consistent Christian identity assurance is a Christian who truly believes and behaves as who God says he or she is consistently. Such a person has begun the successful journey of pleasing God. It is written in Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Pleasing God is about first believing who God is and then who God says we are. Once we accept who God says we are, we know to yield and partner with the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s purpose. Let us not allow the world to turn us into people who doubt, fear, complain and worry. None of these are pleasing to the Lord. Remember Apostle Paul said “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. Rise up beloved and constantly walk in who God says you are. Be the salt, be the light, be the blessing, yes, be the breakthrough for those waiting for you.

Shalom and Glory to you.

 

Ps: Come by next month to check out suggested consistent CIA prayers.

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The Legal Duty of Child Abuse Reporting by Members of the Clergy

“If I suspect a child is being harmed, don’t I have a legal and moral duty to report the suspected abuse, is a question that I’m asked from time to time by various clergy members.  And does this violate the Clergy-Penitent Privilege?”  We all want to see all children safe from abuse and live by the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, “For evil to succeed, all it needs is for good men to do nothing.”  But even a pastor has a duty to follow the law of our land. 

One of the most difficult facts I have to explain to my clients at times is that “morally right” and “legally right” are sometimes not the same thing.  Morally, you feel that you have a duty to report suspected abuse.  But do you legally have the right to?  When this conundrum pertains to the abuse of a child, it can create a profound ethical dilemma for the clergyman or woman who has knowledge of the abuse.

First, let’s start by examining the meaning of “child abuse.”  The statutes in Florida define child abuse as “Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child;” or “An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child;” or “Active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.”  While I’m certain that similar legal definitions exist in other states, it’s first and foremost important for you to know the exact language of the definition of abuse in your state.  Furthermore, child abuse reporting laws are often amended, so it is of utmost importance for you to review the statutes that govern you and apply to your church on a regular basis.  

The bottom line is that each state and venue has laws designed to protect children from abuse by designating people in certain professions as “mandatory reporters.”  In many states, members of the clergy are mandated to report known or suspected occurrences of abuse on a minor, and they may even face criminal charges for their failure to comply with this law.  However, in some states, clergy members are exempt from alerting authorities to their suspicion or knowledge of abuse if they learned about the abuse during the course and scope of a conversation that is protected by the Clergy-Penitent Privilege.

Again, in Florida, the law defines “Clergy-Penitent Privilege” [in part] as “A confidential communication is between a member of the clergy and their parishioner, if the communication is made privately for the purpose of seeking spiritual counsel and advice from the member of the clergy in the usual course of his or her practice or discipline, and the communication is not intended for further disclosure.  A clergy member has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent another from disclosing, a confidential communication by the parishioner to a member of the clergy in his or her capacity as a spiritual adviser.”  

And now that we’ve seen exactly what the law [in Florida] defines as “Clergy-Penitent Privilege,” we can see that the law did not release a member of the clergy from reporting their suspicions or knowledge of child abuse if they became aware of the abuse or possible abuse while they were acting in any other capacity of a mandatory reporter.  For example, if a father comes to you privately seeking spiritual help for his alcoholism, and in confessing how his addiction affects his life, he admits to abusing his child, you are bound by the law to keep his confidence and not reveal his admission.  But if he did not come to you seeking spiritual guidance, but rather you witness him striking his child, or you saw bruises on the child, or the child told you she was being abused, then you do have a moral and legal duty to report the abuse.  

Because of this inner struggle, too often, clergy personnel can be torn between fulfilling their legal duty to report suspected abuse and upholding their ecclesiastical obligation not to breach the confidentiality of a privileged communication with their parishioner.  They then assume that they can resolve the matter offering counseling to the abuser and the victim without getting law enforcement involved.  This is a pitfall which can carry serious legal repercussions for the clergyman or woman.  

For example, clergy personnel with knowledge or suspicion of child abuse which was obtained outside of the scope of the Clergy-Penitent Privilege and who fail to comply with their state’s child abuse reporting law may face criminal prosecution.  Furthermore, some states have adopted laws which allow victims of child abuse to sue and some courts have permitted child abuse victims to sue clergy members or the church for failing to report their abuse.

This brings us to the question of whether or not a clergy member can be held liable or reap legal ramifications if they report a suspected incident of abuse that later proves to be unfounded.  The answer is that each state grants limited immunity to those who make such a report.  States encourage abuse to be reported so they can protect their children.  Because of this immunity, clergy members or the church cannot be sued simply for notifying the appropriate authorities of their suspicions of abuse, unless such a claim was made with maliciousness and the intent to harm the person being reported.

If there arises such a time that you must report a suspected incident of child abuse, you should call your state’s Department of Children and Families to file a report.  Be prepared to identify the child, the child’s guardian(s), and the identity of the alleged abuser.  You will also be asked the age of the child, the child’s address, and the nature of the abuse.

Remember, we all have a duty to protect children from abuse.  But we also want to protect ministers within the church from legal problems arising from their reporting an alleged incident of abuse.  The best way for this to be upheld is for the church to have a written policy and procedure manual dealing with mandated reporters and how they should handle such claims.  Furthermore, mandated reporters should be educated and trained by the church how to recognize possible abuse, how to protect children, and how to report an alleged incident of abuse. Your church’s insurer may have information regarding this training.  

Taking all this information into account, it should be noted that while we discuss “Clergy-Penitent Privilege,” in many states, the term “privilege” applies only to courtroom testimony or depositions, and not to the statutory duty to report to a state agency.  The bottom line:  It’s your duty to know the current Child Abuse Reporting law in your state as well as in your church, as it pertains to you.

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Dean Burnetti is a personal injury attorney who practices law in Central Florida.  He received a Pastoral Ministries degree from Oklahoma Baptist Seminary in 1980, and he dedicates a portion of time at his law practice to assisting clergy members with legal matters involved in their service to the Lord.

*Unless otherwise noted, the legal opinions given above apply to clergy personnel in the State of Florida.  It is important to note that each member of the clergy should be aware of current laws that govern their own state.  Furthermore, the information contained herein is a legal opinion, and should not be construed as legal advice.

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A Regret-Free Marriage

“Everyone has experienced regrets at sometime in his or her life. Sadly enough, they seem to be part of

the cold realization that we all do things we wish we hadn’t done or fail to do the things we should

have. Nonetheless, if we allow regrets to keep our focal point on the past, we are setting ourselves up

for trouble. Someone once said that living with your focus on regrets is like trying to drive a car while

looking in the rear-view mirror; there’s no doubt about it—you’re going to crash.”

One question asked many husbands and wives was to “share some of the regrets they harbored.” Later,

those surveyed indicated that “these feelings have affected their personal lives, and, in some instances,

have had a derogatory impact on their marriages.”

Here’s just a partial list of what some of the husbands and wives said. Please read them carefully—

we’re hoping that we’ll learn from them so we won’t continue to make the same mistakes and

eventually live with the same regrets:

THE WIVES SAID 2

:

• I wish my husband and I wouldn’t have argued in front of the children.

• I’m afraid we got married too soon. We were counseled to wait, but we didn’t.

• I regret not making “our relationship” more of a priority over the children. Now that the kids are

older, I feel like my husband and I don’t really know each other.

• I wish we hadn’t lived together before we got married.

• I would have asked Jesus into my life sooner. I regret the wasted years.

• We should have changed the way we conducted our financial situation. We’re so far in debt, I

don’t think we’ll ever be financially secure.

• I wish my husband and I would have prayed together. Whenever we’d hear someone preach

about having prayer time as a couple, we’d talk about it but never follow through. I feel like

something is missing between us as a result.

• I regret never really enjoying my children. I wanted them to grow up quickly. They kept me

from doing things I wanted to do, got in my way, and drove me crazy. Looking back, I feel

foolish for being so short sighted. I wish I could do some of it over.

1 Anderson, Roger & Ponceti, Anthony – Love is a God Designed Hunger © 2011

2 Hot Topics for Couples: What Husbands and Wives Aren’t Telling Each Other By Steve & Annie Chapman

All Pro Pastors A Regret-Free Marriage Page 1 of 3

The Husbands Said:

• I regret raising our children in a spiritually unfit environment.

• I regret buying a house that was too large for our income. The financial stress is suffocating me.

I feel the pressure all of the time.

• If I could change anything, I would have been a nicer person to live with. I regret being so harsh

and mean to my wife and kids.

• I regret hitting my wife.

• I wish I had not had an affair and betrayed my wife.

• I regret straying from the church.

• It makes me sad when I think about how much my wife and I have drifted apart.

We can conclude that husbands and wives aren’t telling each other about the pain from their past. What

they can’t say is:

“I love you and want to show you how I feel. However, there’s a part of me that can’t reach out to you

because I’m holding on to merciless regrets. My emotional paralysis has nothing to do with what

you’ve done. I’m the one who must deal with the pain from my past. As you pray for me and support my

pursuit of God, I’m confident I will find peace.”

Scanning the list we realize:

That all of their regrets could be resolved using three remedies:

1. Avoid the Avoidable

2. Change the Unacceptable

3. Forgive the Unchangeable

Avoid the Avoidable:

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with

the same person. 3

The first remedy is to admit that many of the regrets were actually avoidable. In most cases, the

regretful things that were done by the men and women who responded to these questionnaires were a

product of yielding to temptation. For that reason, the individuals were wearing the “handcuffs” of

guilt.

For example, many of the couples voiced sincere remorse for a variety of ‘sexual indiscretions’ (the

politically correct jargon for the word sin). Some had guilt feelings about living together outside the

bonds of marriage. Others regretted their unfaithfulness toward their spouse. Obviously, all of these

failures could have been sidestepped by better choices.

Yet the sins were committed and the feelings of shame the people feel are very real and debilitating to

their marriages. But as devastating as these downfalls may be, there is hope for all spouses who feel

‘cuffed’ by condemnation. As grievous and horrible as our sins may be, they’re no match for the

boundless love and grace of God, through Christ.”

3 https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/248519.Mignon_McLaughlin

All Pro Pastors A Regret-Free Marriage Page 2 of 3

We feel it’s important to remind us all of what God’s word says about His willingness to forgive us:

• 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse

us from all unrighteousness.”

• Psalm 32: 5, “I said ‘I will confess my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.’ I said, ‘I

will confess my transgressions to the Lord’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

These are just two of hundreds of verses in God’s word that speak to His willingness to forgive us. So,

if you’re struggling with guilt and can’t forgive yourself, turn to the Bible and begin a word study on

forgiveness.

Change the Unacceptable:

A perfect marriage is one in which “I’m sorry” is said just often enough. 4

Take a few minutes to look over once again the regrets revealed by the husbands and wives. As you

reread them, make a mental note of how many regrets fall under the category of ‘changeable’.

They make an excellent point. Just because you were bad at handling finances doesn’t mean you have

to stay that way. That can change. If you’ve drifted apart that doesn’t mean it has to be that way today.

You can rebuild the relationship.

Forgive the Unchangeable:

A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers. ~Ruth Bell Graham

While changing the unacceptable may be achievable in most cases, to forgive the unchangeable is a

goal that may require more strength than a person feels they possess. Yet it can be done. Because the

events or issues that cannot be altered are often the regrets that seem to do the most damage to a

relationship, it is worth the effort to gain resolution. And sometimes, accepting the unchangeable means

accepting God’s forgiveness.

Matthew 6:9-15 Matt 6:9-15 (ASV)

9 After this manner therefore pray ye. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. 11 Give us this day our daily

bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And bring us not

into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your

heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will

your Father forgive your trespasses.

If any of you find yourselves stuck in a place of not being able to forgive yourself or your spouse or

don’t feel anything can “change” for the positive, I recommend you seek the counsel of a neutral third

party. It can be a pastor or Christian counselor, or maybe just another couple whom you both trust and

feel they have the understanding and compassion to help you through a difficult place in your marriage.

The key here is to not let any issue or problem in your marriage just “sit there” like the proverbial

elephant in the living room—everyone knows it’s there and making a mess, but nobody does anything

to get rid of it.

We pray you’ll start today to un-harbor the regrets of your past leaning upon Christ as your guide. Do

this as a love gift to the Lord and also to each other. In doing this your marriage will bring honor to

God in every way. And as you apply yourself to this huge task, we are “confident of this, that He who

began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

4 https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/248519.Mignon_McLaughlin

All Pro Pastors A Regret-Free Marriage

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Reaching the Lost with the Gospel

Jesus final command was “Go Ye” into all the world.  We have to be careful we don’t practice “Sit Ye”.  Jesus was pro-active when it came to the harvest.  He was forever empowering and sending.  “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’”  (Luke 10:1-2)  Jesus held the shortest “School of Evangelism” in history.  First He “Appointed” them, then He “Sent” them, and finally He told them to “Pray” for the harvest. This appointment was so important that Jesus, for the rest of His earthly ministry, never went to one city or place, but that His front teams from Luke 10 had gone before Him to prepare the way. We know what they did, by what they reported.  “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.  And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.’”  (Luke 10:17). When we go, we release His authority!  When we sit, we watch Satan take over nations.  Jesus came into the world to “manifest” two things.  First, the power to take away our sins, for He was sinless.  Second, to destroy the works of the devil.  The first is evangelism, the second is discipleship.

1. What is the need?  Jesus said there was only one TRUE sign on earth before His return.  “When this gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world, unto all nations, then shall the end come”.  Matthew 24:14 We can hasten the coming of the Lord by finishing the harvest.  Jesus, by the way, said he will not return until this is done.  Kinda threatens our eschatology views doesn’t it?  

  1. Where do we stand in completing this mandate from Jesus?  The JOSHUA PROJECT gives us the best global reports on the progress of the world harvest.  I quote directly from their front page of their website:  Number of people groups in the world… 16,584.  Number of unreached people groups… 6,733.  Percentage of unreached groups 42.2% of world population.  The world’s population is currently 7.39 Billion.  The world’s unreached population is 3.11 Billion.  A people group is defined as a “dialect” or “Nation” in Matthew 24:14.  “Unto all nations” means “distinct dialectic people group”.
  2. What is Action Evangelism doing to make a difference? We have been working the harvest of the nations for over 40 years.  Nations like the Philippines, Romania, Singapore, India, Africa, etc. have all been hotspots for Action Evangelism. Not only have I traveled to those nations, but have set up our Kingdom Life University remote mission campuses to train nationals to help finish the harvest.  They are doing a magnificent job!  Nations like Northern India have seen 132 churches planed in remote villages.  Some churches running into the hundreds.  

I will be sharing, on Pastor Paul Pickern’s request, a monthly article outlining the need for your church to mobilize for the world harvest.  We have some practical ways you can partner with us, or if you like, do it on your own.  

https://vimeo.com/pioneersusa/unreached

Video of the need… well done!  

Dr. Jerry Brandt   Founder of Action Evangelism/ Kingdom Life University, WATV network  

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Heart to Heart from a Fellow Pastor

I am honored to be writing an article as a Pastor for Pastors to encourage and inspire.  I have been a full-time Pastor going on fourteen years and one of the best things that has ever happened to me was when I joined a “Champion’s Table” through the ministry of All Pro Pastors.  Paul Pickern really encouraged me to join a Champion’s Table as I attended the All Pro Pastors’ events but I kept putting it off.  Paul never gave up on me and even personally called me in regard to joining a Table.

When I really started to consider it, and pray, I felt inspired by the Holy Spirit to follow through with joining a Champion’s Table. Paul set everything up for me to introduce myself to the table and I’ll never forget that it was at McDonald’s in Valrico.  After that initial meeting, I was then accepted at the table and it has been truly life changing ever since.  It takes time to get to know one another and at this time we really do know each other.

One of the challenges that all pastors face is accountability and friendships outside the church. When I Joined the Champion’s Table, I was blessed to be able to have accountability and friendships.  Being a Pastor can truly be a lonely place where you cannot relate to a lot of people because of your position. Pastors are not perfect and there’s a lot of pressure when people put you on a pedestal.  When I come to the Table each week, I get to vent and truly pour out my heart with whatever is pressing me.  Being at the table allows me to be a better listener and not being the one who does all the talking.  I find it interesting that Yeshua had His last supper at a table with His disciples in Jerusalem before He was crucified and I get to meet my friends every week at a table.  I look forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb when we can all sit at the same table with Yeshua our Messiah.

 

Pastor Nick

Beit Tehila Congregation

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Blind Side

 

In a study I read in relations to a personality profile test, that there are 4 aspect of a person’s life. Most in which only the first one gets revealed in the test. Nevertheless, in my humble opinion, I believe that small group relationships can actually touch all 4 of these aspects. Most people tend to grow more wholesome in a small group of close friends.

(Proverbs 18:24 ISV)  A man with many friends can still be ruined, but a true friend sticks closer than a brother.

There are friends, then there are friends that are close. Also in these four aspects of a person’s life I can see 3 core basic needs that man needs that is desired to be meant. I believe God put them inside of us causing us to search for Him. They are LOVE, SIGNIFCANCE and SECURITY.

By defining 4 aspects of our live, I hope to show how we need each other – and how seriously considering joining a Champion’s Table can be a benefit to some pastors who need close friends.

First there is the arena persona. It’s the public you. It’s the part of you that you know and others know. When we first meet all you see is the “arena” me – But there is more because we have that…“I need people who really know me. Who knows what going on inside”. All of us have a part inside of us no one else can see. We need someone that knows us.

We all have a need to feel a sense worth. We have a need for significance.

Next is the mask – It’s the aspect of “What you know about you and others don’t know”.

(1 Corinthians 2:11) “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?”

We all have stuff no one else knows about except God. You are not safe if you are the only human being that knows about that thing. Adam walked with God and God said “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:28). The enemy wants you isolated in your issues so he has a better chance in causing you to be defeat through it.

Here is another reason why we need someone else who knows what’s behind the mask. God forgives our sins, specifically in this case, those that may have caused physical sickness. Nevertheless, the prayer of a righteous man, a spiritually passionate for God kind of man, has great power. His prayers have the power to heal the condition that sin leaves us in.

James 5:16 MKJV Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.

Like verse 17 of James 5 signifies, that man can have his own issues, but still zealous, passionate and true to the things of God. That only means that you need each other.  It is good having friends whose prayers are available in the sight of God. This is friends who know the truth about what to prayer, because God only works in truth.

You don’t have to particularly go to an All Pro Pastor’s Champion Table, but you better have someone who knows what’s behind the mask. The Champion’s Table is a place that you can find those kinds of friends. I’m not saying the first week at a Champion’s Table the mask is going to come off. But hopefully after several weeks you feel safe enough to reveal what behind it.

We wear masks to protect ourselves, or to hide some undesirable truth. But God intent is that we protect each other. We need people who will protect us, because we have a need for security.

(2 Corinthians 4:2 MKJV)  But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the Word of God, but by the revelation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

In layman’s terms “We refuse to wear masks and play games.… rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open…”Your life will be better and you will be free from the control any habitual thing/sin.

“You know that thing that you don’t want to do but you do it anyway. Yeah, that thing”. (Rom 7:15-18)“You say that Jesus’ job – Nope – He will forgive you. If you confess your sins to God He will forgive you, but He will not be the one who makes sure you don’t do it again. He will only forgive you for it because He has already given you the grace not to do it.

(I John 1:9)   If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

(James 5:15)  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he who have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

(James 5:16) “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

People’s prayer cannot forgive your sins but can get you to healed and delivered from the condition of your situation. I personally believe it’s because of accountability. Lack of accountability (revealing what’s behind the mask) is the number one reason pastors fall and men fail as husbands and fathers.  

A Champion’s table of men also is a hedge or guard to help protect us from our vulnerabilities and that thing that you struggled with and no longer do. Apostle, Arch Bishop, Bishop, Pastor we all are vulnerable so we have a need for security, which brings us to the next aspect of our lives.   

Blind spots – Blind spots is when “you don’t know or see it but other know and see it of you”.  It’s like having spinach in the teeth, or your fly is open and you are putting on your arena persona.  

Once I yelled out to my wife from across the house that I was running out to the grocery store. So I put on this really nice golf shirt I had been wanting to wear. I strutted through the store greeting and smiling back at people while styling my new shirt. I went on through the checkout line, only to get home and my wife telling me that my shirt was on inside out.

Who protects your blind side? Who do you have around you that loves you enough to be honest with you? We need people who will be honest with us.  

We have that need for love and protection.

Your Greatest Vulnerability?

Have you ever seen The Blind Side?  It’s the story of  Michael Oher, and how he came up from high school, through college then to play in the NFL. The position he plays is left offensive tackle. One the highest paid positions and highly valued positions in the NFL. Left tackles in the NFL are called silent millionaires because they are sometimes the highest paid position after the QB. Why is the left tackle so critically important? It’s because he protects the quarterback’s blind side.

Most quarterbacks are right handed, so when they drop back to pass, they can’t see pass rushers coming from their left sides. That is why it’s called the blind side.

In 1985, Monday Night Football, it was quarterback Joe Theismann of the Washington Redskin verses the NY Giants and Linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

Lawrence Taylor beat the Skins left offensive tackle, broke free and snapped Theismann’s leg like a breadstick, ending the quarterback’s career.

As a quarterback, you need a world-class left tackle covering your blind side, your greatest vulnerability. As husband, as a father, or pastor, you need a world class friend to protect your blind side. If you get blindsided too much, you not only lose the game, you might lose your career. Just like a professional quarterback, as a husband, father, and pastor, you are crucial and incredibly valuable to the team. You are valuable to your family, your church, the Body of Christ and to God, and just as important, to yourself. 

Like a quarterback, you have a blind side that must be protected at all costs. So, who or what protects your blind side? Your left tackle could be a trusted friend, who keeps you informed, covers you and stands with you when things gets tough. OF course you can also serve as someone else’s left tackle when that person is distressed. Whatever or whoever you choose to be your left tackle, you need one.

When your blind side is protected, you have a foundation to stand upon. You have the love, significances and security necessary to take risks to be the champion that God made you to be.

We have to earn the right to say certain things to people. That’s really only to those who I believe really love me. If I think that you really care, I’m going to listen to you.

(Proverbs 27:6 NKJV) “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

We all need someone who has our back…to stop us from going over the edge.

Potential – it’s the aspect of “I don’t know and you don’t know”.  

Who knows? God knows! The potential He knows that we have is always far greater that what we could ever imagine or think.

So what could that have to do with Champion’s tables? God has devised a plan for us to find our potential through us getting together with other believers.

(Proverbs 27:17 ISV)  Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens a friend’s character.

You will never realize you full potential alone…not ever. You will always hit a ceiling that’s never close to your potential. It’s a whole lot more when you connect with a team.

Proverbs 15:22 RV Where there is no counsel, purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established.

We all need a place where we can realize our full potential because it’s not going to happen for you us alone. The real motivation is for you because it’s going to help you to go farther. The more you connect to the body the stronger you grow

(James 5:16) “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

Who can benefit greatly from a Champion’s table? Those who have…

  • Those who has a blind side and are vulnerable
  • Those who have ever been disappointed – Lost trust –have been hurt
  • Anyone who has or had “you know… that thing. (Rom.7:15-18)
  • One who doesn’t have a Barnabas to come along side of them mutually sharing love, significances, and security when you are dealing with that thing.
  • Desire to maintain a strong marriage

As pastors we all know that we cannot do everything or just can’t commit to another thing.  Nevertheless there will always be a lot of thing things that is urgent,   but there are a few are critical. The critical being the most important.

Luke 10:41 ESV But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,

Whatever you do first affects the rest.

(Hebrews 10:25) “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

There are pastors who have struggled, stumbled and fell. Many have left the ministry because of discouragement. Plenty has lost their families, and some have even taken their own lives. Most of whom I believe loved and honored God and did the best that they could. But I am convinced that the baseline of their demise were the lacked the LOVE – SIGNIFCANCE – SECURITY and knowledge of their God given POTINIAL that would come through a relationship of a close friend or brother in their life. We need a friend that sticks closer than a brother, one born for harsh conditions.

(Proverbs 17:17 ESV)  A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

These words that I have written come from personal observation, experiences, and truths that are in my heart. They are without intentions to generalize anything or anyone.

-Pastor Don Rhone Sr.-

Bridge of The Bay Community Church.