Ministry of Love

The intention of this blog is to share Biblical messages at least on a weekly basis. Any response is appreciated. I do not expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of Biblical passages. I will try to respond with love and thoughtfulness.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


The good man, that was my father, will no longer be writing this blog. He has gone on to be with the Lord that he loved so much. He died after a very short illness, and thankfully, not much pain. We, as his family, will continue to keep the blog active, so feel free to review any of the previous postings. We will try to carry on his legacy of sharing God's love with those who are willing to receive the message, perhaps from older writings of his, and perhaps with some new added thoughts. Thank you, each one of his readers, for your interest.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pain, Gift or Curse? by John.

I've lived a long time, and I've experienced a normal amount of pain I suppose, but I've not experienced nearly as much pain as WW II soldiers who were prisoners of war, nor the pain the Jews suffered at that time. I think no normal person looks forward to suffering. I'm becoming more familiar with pain now, and as much as we don't like it, I think we should consider it a gift from God. As a simple illustration, can you imagine breaking an ankle and walking around on it without pain? It would probably result in death very quickly.

Pain is God's gift to help us stay healthy. Early in our lives we stop doing most of the things that cause pain. One of the things I did as my children grew was swat them on the rear end when they reached for something on the hot stove. Thankfully that helped avoid the much worse perhaps life threatening burns.

With pain, God also gave us myriads of plants that relieve the suffering at least to some degree. One of the plants in the USA used in the early days of this country for toothaches is the Aralia Spinosa, or Devil's Walking Stick. Another was Slippery Elm used to help medicines easier to swallow. Many plants are still used today in a more purified form. I've used Digoxin for my heart for many years. I it comes from Digitalis plants.

These are just a few of God's gifts to spare us too much pain, and there are so many, many more! I can't remember thanking God for the pain I've had, can you? But I have thanked him for the medicines that have kept me in relatively good health for so long.

One of my good friends requested prayer for a co-laborer today, and I've already been praying for both of them. I certainly believe God answers our prayers and heals us of our sicknesses. I think He usually does it with a quiet touch, but I also believe doctors are a gift to the whole human race. I wrote my friend immediately saying much of what I'm saying here, but a little more.

I am wondering if our Father allows illness so that we will personally turn to Him for help, and if in turning to Him, we also ask others to join us in prayer for healing. In I Thessalonians 5:17, Paul urged the Christians there to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in everything.

These are just some thoughts about our daily life here in this world where we are being prepared for the glory of heaven. I believe our gifts far outrank our needs, and I agree with Paul that we need to pray and give thanks constantly... I think I will stop and give thanks for everything God has given me including pain, medicines and doctors who know how to use those medicines.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jesus; by John.

A Note To the Reader:

I intend this to be a simple account of my own observation and resulting belief concerning Jesus. I don't intend it to be a dogmatic, or theological presentation, but rather a report of my lifetime experience with the Lord.

I knew little of Jesus when I became a Christian. I attended Sunday School and Worship almost from birth throughout my life of 80 plus years. I learned the Bible stories and heard impressive preaching. None of that made me a Christian. I became a Christian when a man who became a dear friend and brother pressed upon me the fact that Jesus came into this world to save people. I knew that included me. Before that I thought it impossible for Jesus to pay any attention to me at all. I may have been close to considering Him an ideal rather than a person.

Weeks passed as my friend and I talked. Rather suddenly, I became aware that Jesus was really a person who cared for everyone, and for me personally at that moment. That became vitally important. Heaven and hell had been to me like Valhalla, or the top of Mount Olympus with its pantheon of gods and goddesses. Now, I was flooded with the truth that what the Bible says is true including heaven and hell, and all that it says about Jesus is true. I began to read the Bible with a great thirst for knowledge about everything spiritual, and as I discovered truths, I also discovered I could not keep them to myself. I began to share them with everyone around me. That's the reason for what I'm doing right now. There is so much being said that I find to be unbiblical. I invite you to see for yourself if this is Biblical, or not.

Jesus is God, and as far as I can ascertain, He has always been with God the Father. I see our earthly father/son relationship to be of a similar nature. My own father was always in charge, but we were always equals in everything other than wisdom, knowledge and chain of command. My father always shared as much knowledge with me as he could. Jesus referred to His Father as teaching and instructing Him, and also said He was always obedient to His Father. I don't intend to leave out the Holy Spirit, but all I plan to say is that God's Holy Spirit always present, came to represent and act for Jesus among men. He seals us, teaches and leads us when we allow Him to do God's will in our lives.

Before the incarnation, Jesus was there with the Father in creating all that was created. I think He probably worked directly with mankind during those millennia, but I am not comfortable in stating that as fact. I am aware that heavenly messengers visited people on varied occasions, and if we stick with John's use of "the Word" then almost every time God spoke, the speaker was Jesus.

People have always believed that God, or gods, were behind the scenes observing the activities of mankind. Greek mythology is full of that belief as was Judaism of the day. Not everything in pagan religion is bad. It falls far short of Christianity, but I suspect God used it, and curbed it, to accomplish His will. How much their existence changed the history of mankind is debatable at most. Personally, I believe Romans 8:28 expresses it well: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." This indicates we are free, and God does not cause everything, but uses everything for His children's good, and His work is always perfectly good.

I believe God exists in three personalities, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and I believe the three are not three, but one God. Beyond that, my experience is that God is perfect love and perfect power. He rules everything with a loving touch that always accomplishes His will. That means being apart from God is the worst position in this world, and to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of our lives is absolutely the best

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Certainty of Hope Spans Time; by John

The Certainty of Hope Spans Time

Many words in every language mean a variety of things according to the need they fill. For instance the English word "hope" expresses something good that can, or may, happen in the future. In a sense, it always expresses a desire. "I hope to make a trip to Disney Land before the kids grow up!" is an example. But sometimes as Christians we speak of "the blessed hope." That speaks of something that we believe will certainly happen because God has promised it in the Bible. We may also use it to express a negative idea, "I hope that never happens." Hope can be used to express regret. For instance, a person may say, "I hoped my business would be financially sound by now, but it isn't."

In the Greek New Testament of the Bible "hope" is always quite strong. When it was written, their use of hope expressed an absolute belief of a future event happening. The only unsure thing in their hope was the element of time. They weren't sure about the exact year, day and hour.

Today, we generally express our faith with positive statements such as, "I remember when I put my trust in Jesus, and He saved me. I know my home is in heaven with Him!" The "know" in that sentence expresses our Biblical hope. It hasn't happened yet, but we are certain everything God has promised will occur according to His schedule. And yes, we believe God has a schedule. How absolute, or flexible it is, we certainly do not know.

Some people resent Christians saying such things, but those same people may say, "I'm going to visit Italy this summer, or something like that." They can't be sure they will live through the day, much less until some future date. A good friend and I were talking one day after he visited the dentist. He said matter-of-factly, "The technician told me I brushed my teeth too hard. She said I would lose them before I died if I didn't brush them a little more gently." His eyes were fixed on mine, and I saw the pain there. It was ironic. He had cancer, and he lived only a few more weeks. He was well aware his time was almost gone, but the technician didn't have a clue about his condition. Most of us don't have much more than a clue about what the future holds, that is, unless we have hope in Christ.

A fragment of a song just came to mind. It says something like, "I don't know about the future, but I know Who holds the future in His hands."

I'm the one who knows that he has a limited future now. I have acute myeloid leukemia and I'm 83 years old. It would be extremely painful and probably quite useless to treat the disease at this point. I've chosen palliative treatment. That means the medical community will try to keep me comfortable as long as I live. My friends tell me I can't give up, and I have to tell them that I am not. I am living in hope that the future holds a far more wonderful life than I've already had on this beautiful earth where God placed us. Eternity is my hope with all the wonderful things God has promised. I'm looking forward to meeting two sisters and a brother who left this earth before I was born, and of course, my parents and older brother who was like a father to me a lot of the time.

The Hebrew Bible contains a number of different words we translate to English with our word, "hope." They express a far greater range of meaning, mood and feeling than our one word can carry. Tikvah refers literally to a cord as an attachment, and carries the meaning of an expected happening longed for. Miqveh refers to perhaps an oasis, or a pool of water, but it is used to express confidence that it will be there where they expect it. Yahchal refers basically to waiting, and that's a big part of hope. We must be patient for our Lord works on His Own time table, and it is always correct and filled with His love.

These are just some of the expressions of hope. There are more if you would like to study them. As for me, I am trying to live one day at a time emjoying my family and friends and the time God is allowing me here, but my hope is for a future with far less limitation than I now have. There is no real freedom or safe haven on earth. Both are ours when we turn our lives over to the Lord. That is my hope.

John A. House, July 17, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What Does Being Christian Mean? by John.

Jesus stated in both Matthew 12:33 and Luke 6:44 that trees are known by their fruit, acorns from oaks, pecans from pecans, figs from figs, etc. It's enigmatic to many because He wasn't talking about trees, but human beings. Each Gospel quotes Him as saying good people bring forth good fruit out of their hearts, and evil people produce bad fruit from theirs.

It is absolutely true that Christians are known by their fruit. I ask the question "What does being Christian mean," because I see the answer is clouded. Well-meaning people are imperfect. Some who call themselves Christians are obviously wrong. Still others use the gullibility of Christians for their own selfish gain. James and John wanted to call fire down on a whole town because they didn't treat Jesus well. Jesus rebuked them and told them they did not yet know the Spirit they were of. Later in time, "Christians" sought to free the Holy Land from "infidels". Even the name "infidel" is offensive, but the atrocities committed in the name of Jesus were far worse. Through the following centuries, Protestants and Catholics both put people in prison and killed many because they did not use the name "Christian," or because their Christian doctrines differed. It is no wonder that so many students have refused Christianity because of the facts they discovered in history.

What does being Christian mean to you? I grew up in a church where it seemed to me that being a Christian was a matter of saying you were. My parents were in their 40's when I was born, so most of their friends were middle aged. Those were the people I knew both in church and in their places of business. I heard their curses, their bawdy stories, and I saw many of them proudly attending church on Sunday mornings. I also saw them gambling in their places of business, sometimes in a poolroom, and once or twice in a backyard. They certainly sent a mixed message to me; yet, I am a product of that environment. I soon discovered I did not choose to be like them. I chose to pattern my behavior after the better people in my church.

A friend and I had the same birthday, and we were close neighbors. On our twelfth birthday we joined the church. Neither of us seemed to have a clear idea of what being Christian was; yet somehow we both did eventually become Christians, and both of us became ministers.

Later, both of us changed churches without the other knowing it. I thought at the time denomination made a lot of difference, but I've not been sure about that in the last few years. I've met some Christians who belong to my original denomination that would pass any test I could think of. They are that much like Jesus. Oops! I let the cat out of the bag before I intended to! Yep! If your idea of being a Christian is not being like Jesus, it's not a good idea.

Even trying to be like Jesus is fraught with peril. There's a whole church full of people in Kansas who have gone on the warpath against American soldiers and homosexuals. I don't recall Jesus ever attacking anyone except when he overthrew the moneychangers' tables in the temple, and even then, he simply corrected their wrong.

Being like Jesus does not mean we have to wear robes and sandals. It's not a matter of dress at all. In fact, I believe Jesus never had a picture made because He did not want people to try to look like Him. Can you imagine what would have happened in the world if people really knew what Jesus looked like? Take a quick thought about what followed the death of Elvis Presley. His look-alikes number in the thousands! I'm glad we don't have a real picture of Jesus for that reason.

Most of us have an idea that being Christian only involves a set of social rules and customs with occasional perfunctory prayers. We think that if we display our expected position in worship, then we can go leave and return to our "normal" selves.

I believe the Bible gives us a lot more extensive picture of Christianity. That picture is Jesus. "What would Jesus do," is a question that has been popular for a long time, but it is also impossible. We are so imperfect that we can't be successful reacting to every event like that. What we can do is study the life of Jesus through His inspired sayings and try to become remolded in our own basic nature.

I get a little tired of people discussing whether dogs have souls, or not. I think most of those arguing either way would say that people do have souls; yet, the Scripture plainly tells us we are living souls! That's who we are! We are spiritual beings! And as such, we belong to God, and He has given us the right to become His Own children when we admit our sins, and turn from them to Jesus for salvation. When we do, our body may die, but we live on as long as God lives! (I borrowed that from Billy Graham).

Being Christian does not mean we will never sin, never make a mistake, or be self-seeking, and self-indulgent. It does mean we will continually turn away from all evil in ourselves and others. It also means that we will live with the propensity for failure that others have without snubbing them or castigating them. It means we will treat them with love, the love of Jesus that He instills in us. I John states that clearly in 2:9, "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness." The next verses continue that thought.

Not church membership, not a written code, but what God does in and with our lives is what makes us Christian and our constant contact with God through His Holy Spirit is what it means to be Christian. I discovered many years ago that in myself, I have nothing to be proud of. Baptism, church membership, approval of my brethren, ordination, successful service in church, my BA and M-DIV degrees all amount to nothing! Being as much like Jesus and loving others like He did is my passion in this life, and if it is not yours, I hope it will be soon! I pray God will bless you with a saving knowledge of Himself.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wisdom, Who Is Wise? by John.

Wisdom? Who is Wise?
Proverbs 11:30 Introduction:
1. (1) We live in an era filled with contrasts. We have a world in which far more than half the people exist in poverty, while a few have so much money they can't find ways to spend all of it. Some of these people have no desire for money, just for enough to eat and a comfortable place to sleep while others seem to be unhappy because they don't have all there is.
(2) We have highly educated people, and people with no formal education at all.
(3) We have crippled people who would love to be able to crawl. Others are proud that can leap their own height, or perhaps run a four-minute mile.
(4) Some very intelligent people have no formal education while some with very little intelligence proudly display doctor's degrees.
(5) There are artists who use paint, crayon, engraving, and stone cutting, and at the other end of the spectrum those who are physically blind, unable to view the world's art.
(6) We have deaf mutes unable to hear or speak, and we have mothers, for instance, who can hear a pin drop at a hundred paces and preachers who can charm the birds out of the trees with their words.
2. Variety: (1) We have to assume that God likes variety because there is so much of it. We see variety in animals, birds, reptiles, human beings and pets.... We could go on listing these things for a long time without being repetitive!
3. Color (1) We haven't mentioned Color: We have human beings of color, and actually we are all colored people. We have kinky hair, curly hair, straight hair, no hair, blonde, brunette and a few with a streak of white or some other color in otherwise naturally shaded hair. That reminds me that my brother was blue eyed, until he opened his eyes wide, and then you saw that the top of his left eye was brown!
4. Our God is so Great! He loves us so much! And as far as I can tell, He never tires of introducing news things to us! Every time we think we've learned all there is, the volume of knowledge doubles again!
5. Christians never need to be bored in this world, and I am sure we will never be bored in heaven. Early in my life there were great arguments about someday splitting the atom, and now we fear other nations are building atomic, or hydrogen bombs.
6. If there ever was a time we need to be wise, this is it! But we don't need worldly wisdom. Ours must come from God!
7. I've already mentioned we have intelligent people and people who are run of the mill, but we also have a few who are way below average for a number of different reasons. No one should look down on us because of our education, intelligence, or lack of either one. It's a sad truth that some of us do look down on anyone who is not as blessed as we are.
8. There's a place in Mississippi called Sullivan's Hollow. There's never been a town there as far as I know. It's located about midway between Jackson, the state capital, and Hattiesburg the home of Mississippi Baptist College. Back in pre-WW II days, I am told they had signs on the road in and out of the area that said any black person found here after dark will never leave!
The Baptist Church had a revival, and the old man Sullivan was finally persuaded to attend. He did it just to get his family off his back. The preacher was somewhat awed by that grim-faced old man, but he delivered a Georgia know what that is, don't you? Well, it's long, and so loud the preacher won't have a dry thread on him, and he'll be standing on about four inches of britches legs when he's done! There was a young fellow the people called a half-wit. He answered the altar call and accepted Christ. The preacher continued the invitation, and the young fellow got up and walked toward the back of the church. Every head followed him until he stopped right in front of old man Sullivan. He bent over whispered in his ear and straightened up. The old man stared up at him and shook his head. The young fellow leaned over and whispered in his ear again and walked out of the church. Everyone wondered what that boy said. No one dared mention religion to that old man! After several verses of the invitation song, old man Sullivan got up, went forward, and professed faith in Christ. It shocked everybody including the pastor, so he asked Mr. Sullivan if the young man had influenced him to become a Christian, and the old man said, "Yes, he did. He asked me if I wanted to go to heaven. I shook my head. Then he leaned down and whispered, 'Well, go to hell then.' And that did it!"
Now a minister told that story, and his point was that we might save someone with a simple, direct approach. My thought is, you don't have to be smart, well educated, or even socially acceptable to lead someone to Jesus, but you do have to be wise!

I. Proverbs 11:30 says, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he who wins souls is wise." I see three facts in this verse:
1. The righteous life bears fruit to eternal life.
2. Since the writing is poetic in form, the Hebrew rule is, the second half of the verse rephrases the first, adds something else to the first, or contrasts with the first.
(1) Considered the second way, it is wise to win souls.
(2) Taken the first way, a wise person wins souls.
(3) Third, this is O.T. so I take it that the Scripture is saying we can get people to change their minds toward God. NT tells us it will be His Spirit who changes their hearts, and works out their salvation.
3. We may persuade people to trust the Lord, but it is the Lord, and only the Lord, Who does all the saving.
4. Even in Solomon's day, God told us how to recognize a wise person and how we ourselves can become wise.
5. The process is simple to state, but not so simple to accomplish.

II. First, Do you really want to be Wise?

1. Persuade men to put their trust in the only real God, the One Who reveals Himself both in the Bible and directly to the human soul.
2. How can you do that?
(1) First, live like Jesus did when He walked the earth. I John 2: 5b and 6: "This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."
a. If you don't live spiritually as Jesus did, your claim is untrue.
b. Worldly people can tell a real Christian from a phony in the blink of an eye!
c. It's true that people let Satan confuse them sometimes, but if they go directly to God in prayer, He opens their understanding to the truth.
(2) Second, fill your life with good and avoid the bad the rest of the world does. People know and notice the difference! They are not likely to change their minds, if our claim doesn't ring true.
(3) Third, love people the way God loves them.
a. I'm talking about the kind of love that the Father displayed when He sent His only born Son to die for us.
b. Again, lost people know, and they can spot a phony. Satan aids them in that! In fact, Christians out of fellowship with the Father are one of the strongest tools Satan uses to keep lost people lost!
(4) Fourth, deliberately seek to lead others to the truth of the Gospel.
a. Most people hear preaching at church if they go to church, or on the radio, or TV, but too often they don't really apply it to themselves. As the old saying states, "It just goes in one ear and out the other!"
b. Your visiting with them will cause them to say, "Hey! You mean the preacher was talking about me?" Or, they will at least get the idea God cares!
(5) Fifth, we must pray for, and if possible, with the people we want to meet Jesus.
ill. When I was very young, I was in church every Sunday morning and night. I never applied the message to myself. I just wondered how long the preacher was going to preach, or when the Sunday School bell would ring ending the class. I had a very strong, uncontrolled temper. When I got angry, my mother took me into the bedroom, knelt by my dad's bed, pulled me down beside her, and she prayed for me. When I asked her why, she said, "I don't want you to end up in the penitentiary. That would break my heart!" Those prayers did not make me a Christian, but they did make me scared of doing wrong! She really got my attention, not through scolding, but through prayer!
When you pray with lost people, they get the point that you, and probably God, care about what happens to them in their future! And you've shown yourself to be wise!

II. A Wise Christian is a Soul Winner.

1. I don't think most Christians understand what a soul-winner is because we think that when we do the things we've already mentioned, people will automatically become Christians.
(1) If that doesn't happen, we think we are at fault! And we may be, but that's not necessarily true.
(2) Maybe there's unconfessed sin in our lives, and that lost person sees it.
(3) That may happen, too, but the fact is, we don't save people!
(4) God does the saving, and He uses the Gospel to do it.
(5) If we give the Gospel to people, we've given them the one thing they need to live forever!
ill. If you saw a person drowning in a swimming pool, what would you do? Jump in and save him? Call the lifeguard? Dial 911? What would you do?
When I took lifesaving in college, they taught us how to go about every possible circumstance to save a person from drowning, and to be safe ourselves.
The very first rule was, don't go into the water if it is not absolutely necessary! Use that long pole with a crook on it. Throw the person a life preserver. Those things you can do even if you can't swim!
When you are dealing with lost people, be aware of your limitations and theirs, but don't let them keep you from doing God's will. Use your limitations to do it right!

III. Connecting this text with Jesus' Words in John 15:5: seals your wisdom.

1. Every Christian bears fruit because of his relationship with Jesus, the Vine.
(1) How much fruit you, as a Christian, will bear is variable.
(2) He first states simply that you will bear fruit. That means every Christian will bear some fruit.
(3) The second indicates you will bear more fruit.
(4) The third indicates you will bear much fruit.
(5) Considering the parables Jesus used, we have to be aware that some of us will bear more, some less.
2. Again, Jesus does all the saving. It is our job to point people to Jesus in a winning way.
3. To do that requires two things:
(1) We need the powerful presence of God's Holy Spirit.
(2) We need to be in contact with lost people.
a. We may visit people we just think are lost specifically to tell them about Jesus.
b. We may tell people we already know, perhaps really love, about Jesus.
c. We may stage activities to attract and educate people about Jesus.
2. But when all is said and done, the fact is, you will bear fruit because you are part of the Vine,
Jesus! Producing fruit is absolutely natural and certain for Christians!
(2) But we must be sure the glory of all we do
goes to our heavenly Father, to His Son Jesus, and to God's Holy Spirit Who seals every person to the very day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 says: "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." "Sealed" is past tense and means every believer who places his life in the Lord's hands is immediately sealed all the way to heaven!

IV. Please God!

1. We've talked about being wise, and about winning souls.
2. We have not paid much attention to the first part of that verse, "The fruit of the righteous."
3. It seems reasonable to say that the fruit of a Christian is another Christian, but since we don't do the saving, is that true?
4. Perhaps we need to consider the word, "righteous." (It is tsaw-DEEK in Hebrew.
(1) The righteous man or woman is moral, upright, someone who is dependable.
(2) Someone recognized by his neighbors as a good person.
(3) Such a person in Solomon's time would be highly respected and should be now.
(4) The person from the New Testament on is a Christian rather than a godly Jew.
(5) Perhaps you feel you are too much a sinner to fit that description.
(6) Let me remind you that Isaiah said in Isaiah 64:6:"...All our righteous acts are like filthy rags..." Without Jesus we could not be clean!
People notice the difference in our lives, and they want to know Jesus, too.
(8) Perhaps you haven't given your life to Jesus... Look around you. Most of these have given their lives to Him.
(9) Give yourself to Jesus right now. The altar is open for you. We will pray with you, counsel you, and help you to know our Lord Jesus!

10. I only mentioned two of the three things I see in that verse. The third is reproduction. Every soul who comes to Jesus, will bear fruit, and when you lead one person to Jesus, that "tree of life" has already started growing! It should continue growing until Jesus comes to take us home.
11. If you aren't a Christian, give yourself to Jesus and start a whole new tree of life!

Abbreviated form Magnolia Rd, 3/20/2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do You Admire Ministers? Remember! by John.

Do You Admire Ministers? Remember!

In I Corinthians, Paul gave those people a startling revelation that still startles people today. In 1:21, Paul says God chose to save people by what the Greeks in particular chose to consider foolishness.
1:25 says, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." Verses 26-29 really should catch our attention: "Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."

God did not choose many of the best, but mainly the lowest, less valuable people by the world's standards to call; yet, some of these messengers of God today are feted as intelligentsia. They come very close to becoming idols themselves. I hope none allow such a thing to happen, but I know too many of us become quite egotistic when we should be completely servant-minded. I've known many deacons who thought their title made them rulers in the church instead of servants of the church. Acts 6 makes it quite clear that deacons started out as people who handed out food and other required items to widows and other needy people in the church. That didn't take a great mind, only a great spirit of devotion to the Lord and His work.

Pastors of large churches have attained popularity that most Old Testament prophets never achieved. With that popularity a lot of power is bestowed on them not by God necessarily, but by the people in the church.

Now, I've always considered church members as Christians, but time has given me reason to doubt that all of them are. I tend to think of myself not as one who has arrived, but as one who is striving to reach the goal of the high calling in Christ as Paul said in Philippians 3:14. I believe none of us ever reaches such a position that we can be absolutely right about anything, salvation included.

When you look at us (ministers of the Gospel), what you see is not what we once were. All of us have things in our past, things we do not want to ever come up in public. If we don't, then I believe we've already missed God's truth about us. We grow from nothing to something under the tutelage of older Christians used by the Holy Spirit for that, and from our peers who are also striving to become the person God wants all of us to be.

This situation makes us very vulnerable. We are still "earthen vessels," or ("jars of clay" II Corinthians 4:7, NIV). God's power is shown to all who will see it in the very accomplishments of such ineffectual, lowly servants.

Numbers 16-18 starts with the rebellion of Korah Dathan, Abiram and On against Moses and Aaron. They considered themselves called of God, and Moses and Aaron as failed leaders. If you remember the history, this occurred after the messengers brought back a discouraging report of the land God was going to give them. The ground opened up and swallowed them with their families, tents and other belongings. I'll not dwell on that. What I want you to notice is that Moses fell on his face before these people. He wasn't a young man! He was getting old, more than eighty; Yet, I'm sure he was stirred by mixed emotions. I believe he felt his own unworthiness to be in the position of God's leader for these people. I believe he remembered the sins in his past. I believe the people's sudden vicious enmity terrified him. Despite that, they were family, and he did not want them destroyed! He wasn't the man he was when he was in Pharaoh's palace; He wasn't the man who saw the burning bush. He wasn't the man who stood before Pharaoh and challenged him to let the Israelites go! He was the wonderful mixture that a person becomes with the help of God's Holy Spirit doing the leading. He stood for God's right, and still he pled for the lives of those who hated and wanted to depose him. Doesn't that remind you that Jesus said, "I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44).

I admire Moses, but not as a demigod. I see him as another minister of the Lord who suffered growing pains like all the rest of us. Of course, I gladly acknowledge God talked directly with Moses, and I don't think God has ever done that with anyone else other than Jesus. I know some claim that God converses with them in prayer. All I can say is that I haven't had any experience like that; Yet, I have experienced what I believe was a message from God to me alone, and I rejoice in that.

I'm also glad that I have experienced the love of many people, and I'm sorry I've disappointed some and made enemies of others. I don't think any of us want to make enemies. We want to be peacemakers and be blessed by that, but we are living, growing things in God's hands, and as one of my children used to frequently remind me, "No one is perfect, Daddy!" That certainly included me and everyone else I know.

I think it is good to admire God's servants, but we should be careful not to place them on some kind of pedestal overlooking everyone else. We should see them as equals with a different chore to perform for the Lord, and we should see our own calling to be just as important as anyone else's in God's plan for His creation. If you belong to Jesus, I do not only consider you a brother, or sister, but as someone doing God's work where you are, and I admire you! You are family!