THE RELIGIOUS REFORMATION UNDER KING JOSIAH

Chapter 23 of Kings II features a fascinating discovery in the pages of the Bible. The chapter tells of King Josiah, king of Israel, who assumed the throne when he was only eight-years-old. The author notes that the king did “what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left,” (II Kings. 22:1-2 NRSV). On the 18th year of his reign, Josiah ordered his secretary, Shaphan, to go to the Temple to command the high priest Hilkiah to distribute the Temple’s funds among the workers.

When Shaphan did so, Hilkiah went to count the sum of the treasures in the Temple. All of a sudden, the priest came across the book of the law, which had been presumably lost until this point. The book likely contained either the Mosaic Pentateuch or a latter collection of Moses’s statutes and ordinances. The book was likely known to the Hebrews, for Hilkiah claimed to have “found the book of the law,” (22:8). When the Temple’s wealth was distributed among the workers, Shaphan informed Josiah of the book of the law found in the Temple by Hilkiah, reading it aloud before him.

Upon hearing its contents, King Josiah immediately “tore his clothes” in repentance and ordered the high priest to “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us,” (22:13). Eventually, Josiah was convicted by the examination of the lost Scriptures, leading him to rouse the religious authorities to reform the Hebrew religion.

The reforms initiated by Josiah’s command were directed towards the entire people of Judah. As the verse reads “All the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord,” (23:2). The religious reforms included making a covenant before God, vowing to keep His commandments, decrees, statutes, and performing all commands within the book of the law. Additionally, “all the people joined in the covenant.”

Evidentially, the people strayed away drastically from the laws and statutes implemented across Israel, seen in the king ordering all of the vessels made for Baal, Asherah, and various gods which existed in the Temple brought out and burned, with their ashes to be carried to Bethel (v.4). The idolatrous priests who refused to abide by the religious reforms were deposed; in fact, there was even a social aspect of these decrees. The houses of prostitutes within the Temple were broken down, and all of the lands influenced by Israel’s paganist-polytheistic neighbors were desecrated and broken down. “He broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the sacred poles, and covered the sites with human bones,” (v.14).

In the long run, countless innovations on the Hebrew faith became evident as Josiah’s issued religious reformation, from the destruction of pagan altars within Judah’s borders to the burning of bones which inhabited the tombs of supposedly “sacred” mounts. Furthermore, “he slaughtered on the altars all the priests of the high places who were there, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem” (v.20).

The king also ordered the reinstitution of the Passover as prescribed in the Torah. A verse from the book says, “No such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, even during all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem,” (vv.22-23). After the Passover, any Hebrew medium—wizard teraphim, idol, or other forms of abomination—was put away by Josiah, “so that he established the words of the law that were written in the book that the priest Hilkiah had found in the house of the Lord. Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his might, according to the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him,” (v.25).

Thus, God applauds the narrative of the religious reformation which Joshua carried out. Specifically, God said, “Because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord… I will gather you to your ancestors, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace,” (22:20). This story tells us that religious reformation is as necessary in the Old Testament as it is today. When the Scriptures become hidden and lost from the Church, we begin to acquire the same corruption which characterized Judah under Josiah’s reign. Therefore, the prophet must be able to recover God’s statutes and reform God’s religion accordingly.

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What has your quiet time been telling you to do or to reform?

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF A PROPHET

A prophet holds the office which God gave to the Church. He is blessed with the gift of prophecy. By necessity, he is a shepherd of sorts, similar to the roles of a pastor. He is responsible before those whom he prophesies because if his alleged revelation from God proves to be of a different spirit, he may bring swift destruction upon himself (II Pet. 2:1b). The prophet, therefore, may be able to reform the community if he is responsible enough to cleanse it of any theological or practical abuses.

The office of prophet is the highest office within Christianity. The famous axiom—with great power comes great responsibility—proves true in the case of the prophetic office. The prophet comes in the name of the Lord, proclaiming oracles received from God to His people, whether they be filled with judgment and condemnation or exhortation and blessing.

If a prophet wants to find his or her position within the body of Christ, then he must take upon himself the duty of reformation. As with any institution, a consistent overview of an organization’s structure and wellbeing is essential for it to survive and flourish. Without taking an in-depth look at the Church and doing away with its wrongful actions, the Church cannot be truly reformed. It will carry with it the stigma, which prophets must be able to address to reform it into the body of Christ.

For example, Jeremiah beseeched the people to “amend [or reform] your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God,” (Jer. 26:13a NRSV). Jeremiah’s act suggests that when one takes a look at early Judaism or the apostolic Church, one is instantly struck with the consistency that characterizes God’s wish to reform the beliefs and practices of His people. When the Temple by Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, introduced innovative religious practices, “each took his censer, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered unholy fire before the Lord, such as he had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord” (Lev. 10:1-2 NRSV). Based from this account, we can infer that God takes false worship very seriously. He will not accept any form of worship which He Himself did not ordain and command. Prophets, therefore, must constantly reform the Church to avoid similar catastrophic abuses such as those by the sons of Aaron.

As a believer,  learn about authentically living a life with Jesus as Lord.  Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available via the Book of the Month Club.

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of Prophecology 2018: Birthing House: The Latter Rain, February 23-25, 2018.

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Is there any form of false worship that you must let go of?

THE MARK OF A BELIEVER

Merry Christmas everyone!

On this day, which marks birth of Jesus, we want to talk about the mark of true believers. It is the true believer who can truly appreciate the essence of this day.

The scriptures show us how to tell if a believer has integrity. When you call yourself a Christian, you walk the talk. It is not just a cliché; it’s simply a way of being that you must become.

Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.  (Romans 12:9-13 NRSV)

A person who lacks integrity is only focused on “looking good.”  Celebrating parties. Giving exchange gifts. Hence, when you’re concerned about your image, you are operating only to survive. The Bible suggests that when the final judgment day comes, people who lack integrity will suffer God’s wrath. We are either for God or against Him; there is no middle ground. Needless to say, those who are lukewarm are considered to lack integrity (Rev. 3:14-18)

The Bible calls believers to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1-2). Therefore, when you imitate God, you follow everything Jesus did. By nature, you are God’s children and you must live a life of love. You must be true to who you are as a new creation.

If you say you love and honor others, then you must honor your word. Maintaining your integrity is not about image at all. Instead, it’s an act of love and honor for others. Without love and honor for others, you will struggle to honor your word.  A prophet’s honor will depend on his integrity. Likewise, a person’s integrity is grounded on honoring one’s word.

 

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What can you do this Christmas to express your authenticity as a believer?

JOEL THE PROPHETIC HARBINGER OF SOCIAL REPENTANCE

The prophet Joel was the “son of Pethuel,” and likely lived in Jerusalem as a minister connected to the Temple due to his familiarity with the religious nature of exilic Judaism (Joel 1:9, 13-14; 2:14-17, 32: 3:1, 6, 16-17). In his prophetic book, the prophet Joel begins with a prophetic oracle directed towards both the elders and inhabitants of the land (1:1). The words, Joel said, should be told to even the recipients’ children, “and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation,” (v.3 NRSV). With the authority held by a prophet of the Lord, Joel proclaimed to the people of Israel,

Put on sackcloth and lament, you priests; wail, you ministers of the altar. Come, pass the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God! Grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God. Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord,” (Joel 1:13-14 NRSV).

 

Take note of the similar imagery used in the words of Joel and the actions of Nineveh. Both biblical instances include putting on sackcloth and declaring a fast, and Joel’s rebuke seems to be even more scathing in singling out the religious authorities of Israel, the priests!

            One must wonder if Joel was frightened when God chose him to rebuke Israel in this way. Certainly going before the religious and civil authorities of one’s nations and telling them to get their business together was no easy task, and you could almost imagine Joel saying these words while wringing his hands and wiping sweat off of his brow. Yet, despite the seemingly impossible task of calling the entire people of God to social repentance, Joel was obedient to the Lord and went before the nation of Israel with the necessity of repentance.

            Joel also taught that there is both a physical and spiritual aspect of social repentance, proclaiming that the individual recipients of his messages should both “fast” and “cry out to the Lord.” Fasting, of course, denoting the physical element of Joel’s proclamation and crying out to the Lord symbolizing the spiritual state expected from God’s people upon receiving the words of God. Joel earnestly loved those in the society in which he preached, and tried to show them the error in their ways and the correction which was found in obedience and faith in God. His earnest desire for Israel to change the nature of their hearts and return to God is evident in his conveying of God’s words:

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God?” (Joel 2:12-14 NRSV)

 

            Joel’s depiction of social repentance is a heavily spiritual one, calling the Hebrews to “rend your hearts and not your clothing,” meaning that God desires for His people to authentically turn to Him in repentance out of pure desire and not out of the mechanical mindset of going-through-the-motions. The words of Joel should ring freshly in our ears as individuals, leading us to guide our social localities towards God, “for he is gracious and merciful.” The perfect and beautiful attributes of God’s very character are the reasons given by Joel for repenting socially. Social repentance is not the mere fear of hellfire and the attempt to escape it therefore, but includes a divine love between God and His creature—between man and God.

            For authentic social repentance to occur, Joel exposits that a society must understand God as He is: gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. We must understand the Heavenly Father not as a figure who desires to express His wrath and anger upon us for our many mistakes, but as a fatherly parent who seeks to discipline in us in order that we might mature into the intended fruition of that which He put into motion. Social repentance is God’s desire. He wishes for all of His creation to return to Him and participate, as Peter says, in His divine nature (II Pet. 1:4). The words of God contained in the Scriptures in which we found pronouncements and exhortations towards particular civilizations are not exclusive to their recipients alone, but also provide a general equity for believers today.

 

As a believer,  learn about authentically living a life with Jesus as Lord.  Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available via the Book of the Month Club.

 

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of Prophecology 2018: Birthing House: The Latter Rain, February 23-25, 2018.

 

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Have you experienced authentic repentance in your life?

Restoring the Integrity of Christianity

Without a doubt, many Christians today fit into the mold of a Pharisee; they hold firmly to their rules and motions and neglect any true implementation of God’s teaching by revamping societal norms. Similarly, too many churches are simply places for the weekly gathering of Christians every Sunday rather than a congregation of Spirit-filled believers prepared to engage the world socially, bringing “every thought captive to obey Christ,” (II Cor. 10:5). To those who are offended by such a condemnation by Christ upon inauthentic communions are like the lawyers, who complained to Jesus in saying that, “When you say these things, you insult us too.” If we wish to acquire a godly and authentic body of Christ, we must set ourselves against such inauthenticity.

But then, how do we combat the rampant inauthenticity across Christian Church? Simple. We must echo Jesus Christ and how He dealt with those who opposed Him on social issues. What did Jesus say in the face of injustice? If we wish to become an authentic Church, we must preach an authentic message.

Authentic Christianity loves and adheres to God’s Word. “Whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him,” (I Jn. 2:5). The Word of God certainly includes things such as theological matters, the humanity and divinity of Christ, the formulation of Trinitarianism, and the offices of the Church; however, some matters require less of the mind and more of the heart and body.

An authentic Christian listens to the Word of God and reacts to it accordingly. For example, James, Jesus’ brother, wrote that the only “religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world,” (Jam. 1:27). Notice that James does not describe pure and undefiled religion before God as “attending church services on Sunday and tithing ten percent of your income,” nor does he define it as “ritually observing particular rules of the Christian tradition in pursuit of righteousness. Rather, James asserts that the only pure form of religion acceptable to God is a one which cares for orphans and widows in distress.

Another point is that authentic Christianity is willing to make sacrifices. It is a Church willing to put others before themselves, to consider themselves not first, second, or third, but dead last. “This is My commandment,” Jesus Christ tells us, “that you love one another as I loved you,” (Jn. 15:13 NRSV). This commandment requires Christians to dedicate their entire lives to loving those whom they come in contact with, because God’s love for us is utterly irreplaceable; it is a standard to which we are held to. Moreover, an authentic church understands this command as a challenge for us to make a difference in social issues.

When the poor and needy cry for help, or when the homeless beg in the streets, we are not supposed to shrug our shoulders and simply wish they could have a better life, if they were only to try. Such a response does not echo the heart of Jesus; in fact, it is dangerously close to the prayer of the Pharisee, who “standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector [who was praying next to him in the same temple]. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income,’” (Luke 18:10-12 NRSV). To assume to know the past and heart of an individual is foolishness. In addition, to presume that one should not aid the poor because of some external driving factor is unbiblical. Our thoughts when encountering the poor and needy on the streets should echo those of the tax collector who was praying in the very same temple as the Pharisee, who “standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, [said Jesus] this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted,” (Lk. 18:13-14 NRSV).

In conclusion, humility, love, and action are key factors in preserving an authentic body of Christ. Without humbling ourselves, loving others, and helping those in need, we become unfaithful, legalistic, ritualistic fakers of the faith who do not herald the spirit of Christ into the world. Therefore, let us love one another, as Christ has loved us. Let our prayers and actions regarding the poor and lowly mimic not those of the Pharisee but the tax collector’s.

Don’t miss out on our LIVE conference call as we discover learn about being the Prophet in the Marketplace.  Here are ways to join:

 

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What does your perspective of money reveal about you?

THE INAUTHENTICITY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH AS CONTEMPORARY PHARISAISM

Records of nominal believers are rampant in the Holy Scriptures. The prophet Isaiah records the Lord saying, “These people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,” (Isa. 29:13 ESV). A similar type of people is recorded in John’s Apocalypse, where Christ denounces such nominalism: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth,” (Rev. 3:15-16 ESV).

If there is anything that God hates more than sin itself, then it is persons who carry an external form of holiness yet contain within themselves an inauthentic, illegitimate faith, equivocating them the Johannine “lukewarm” Christian. When we fail to express our faith in God through loving our neighbors, we become Pharisaical in our religion. We become a people of ritualism and rule rather than an organism of a vibrant and expressive faith.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus was invited by a Pharisee to dine, an invitation which He graciously accepted. When Jesus did not clean his hands before He sat at the table, the Pharisee was amazed and secretly judged Jesus in his heart. Christ, seeing this inner judgment of the Pharisee, said to him that:

“Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give alms for those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it,” (Lk. 11:37-44 NRSV).

 

Is not the scathing rebuke spat by Jesus to men who neglected to express love and humility before God’s beautiful creation relevant to many Christian churches today? How many self-proclaimed Christians tithe and possess towards the witness of the Church a godly disposition, yet neglect justice and God’s love? The implications of Jesus’s rebuke towards the Pharisees speak to congregations all over the globe across all time. In this rebuke, Jesus commands His followers to not merely follow rules and codes of conduct and to not just attend Church services (although those can never hurt). Jesus wishes for them to bring the Church out into the world, so they will meet the poor and lowly wherever they might be.

In the scenario at the Pharisee’s dining table, would most Christians find themselves at ease with Christ’s words? Or would they respond like one of the lawyers who stood to oppose Christ’s words, saying, “Teacher, when you say these things you insult us too,” v.45). Evidently, those who had listened to the rebuke of Jesus did not understand His message. If we can remember, Jesus’s response to the lawyer was:

“Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are the witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs… Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” When [Jesus] went outside, the scribes and Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say, (Lk. 11:45-48, 52-54).

 

Every self-proclaimed follower of God at the Pharisee’s dining table is inauthentic. Although they know the proper statutes of God, they implement them wrongly upon the people. The Pharisees may have even had good intentions in performing ritualistic sacrifices and prayers to God, because they sought to earn His approval through strict implementation of the Scriptures. However, their attempts to please God did not manifest God’s love through their lives.

 

As a believer,  learn about authentically living a life with Jesus as Lord.  Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available via the Book of the Month Club.

 

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of Prophecology 2018: Birthing House: The Latter Rain, February 23-25, 2018.

 

Go to and join the club now!

 

Do you think you are guilty of being a pharisee in your community today?

AMOS THE SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR

The Hebrew prophets in the Old Testament were prominent figures in social justice during their time. Often, they were included in their writings and homilies scathing rebukes towards those who would impose injustice upon the masses. While their primary concern was the people’s relationship with God Himself, the prophets understood that tending to the needs of the poor was a crucial aspect of conveying God’s for the world. Moses can be considered the first prophet called to the divine stage to deliver God’s people from social injustice; however, the prophet Amos and his ministry provided a clear framework for how the ideal role of the prophet (old and new) as a social reformer was intended to look like.

Amos is the author of the Book of Amos, the third book in the Old Testament involving the writings of the Minor Prophets. He was a shepherd from a Hebrew village called Tekoa. He did not receive formal education, whether it be theological, spiritual, or otherwise. He was a man of humble beginnings and was most likely a man with a humble end. Called from God during his time as a lowly shepherd, Amos preached to Israel during a time of oppression of the lower class (Am. 7:15).

Amos prophesied to a society drenched in dire classism, with an elite tier of Israeli authorities (civil and religious) who enjoyed wealth and prosperity while the majority faced poverty and affliction. The epitome of Amos’s prophetic ministry is summed up in this verse: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,” (Am. 5:24 NRSV). Amos’ words can be applied to any social situation which Christians may face today, and the fact that Amos regards justice and righteousness as inseparable concepts is significant in that it teaches us that God is both just and righteous.

The people whom Amos prophesied to had “turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood,” (6:12b NRSV). Such scathing words for those enjoying a luxurious lifestyle while the poor rot in the streets are rare in Christian communities, where many choose to blame the poor for their failures rather than beseech the rich to have mercy. One has to wonder who the modern Christian can relate to more in the context of Amos’s oracles of woe. To the prophet himself or the wealthy and unrepentant people?

Imagine sitting in church on a Sunday morning, and as you leave the church building, your pastor is confronted by a lower-class man, who claims to have obtained a prophetic mission from God. “Do horses run upon rocks?” He demands of him, “Does one plow the sea with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood,” (6:12). One does not have to wildly conjecture what the response might be. “Just another nut job,” the pastor might think to himself, nodding to the man and hurrying to his car.

Amos himself confronted social issues head-on. He declared the judgments of God and the path to salvation as shortly and sweetly as possible, disavowing any possibility of lenience on the basis of partiality. Yet, even with his stern and bold personality, Amos had a loving and godly spirit. “Seek good and not evil, that you may live;” he pleaded to the people of Israel, “and so that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,” (Am. 5:14-15a NRSV). Needless to say, Amos set the standard of which attributes a godly prophet should have: boldness, steadfastness, compassion, and love.

Now let us compare Amos with the magnitude of preachers today who allegedly preach the Word of God. Many Christian preachers stand at the pulpit and espouse from their mouths what may prove contradictory to the gospel. If you turn on the television, finding a well-dressed preacher pronouncing that God desires his children to be wealthy is not uncommon; he says that nice things are signs of God’s favor or that we are able to acquire whatever we desire if we simply have enough faith. This is not the message which Amos brought to God’s people; in fact, it is the exact opposite. Do you know of a Christian who has exposed the lavish lifestyles of many contemporary preachers today as Amos did in his time? Or is the luxury enjoyed by countless Christian leaders considered to be the normative function of their office?

God called Amos to preach to His people about the social issues in his day. In a way, God is calling us out to perform a similar service. The Torah prescribes that we do not “render an unjust judgment” (Lev. 19:15), and Amos’ command to hate evil, love good, and establish justice rings through the countless centuries by communicating about the Holy Scriptures. Jesus’ promotion for social justice is unique in that he encourages his disciples not to express justice and goodness through the Law but through acquiring a spirit of love. The purest expression of the Christian life is a boundless love for both God and one’s neighbor (Mk. 12:28-34). Prophets today possess this responsibility that was thrust upon Amos back in the days; unarguably, it is the responsibility to proclaim to the unjust and the ungodly the words of the Lord and their social implications.

Don’t miss out on our LIVE conference call as we discover learn about being the Prophet in the Marketplace.  Here are ways to join:

 

1) Call 515-604-9266

2) Go to startmeeting.com, and use the login: BishopJordan

 

How can you be more like Amos in your ministry?

THE PREREQUISITE OF ECCLESIASTICAL REFORM

If Christians wish to contribute to social reform, then they must start with their own institutions. It would be pointless to single out individual communions, denominations, or congregations as guilty of a particular failure on this part. Each Christian body in the world, I think, suffers from what I am about to speak on. The deficiency in the Christian world towards loving one’s neighbor is not an exclusively Christian issue. It is, like many great things, a matter of our fragile and imperfect humanity.

The Church, in its universal, invisible respect, is an organism in constant need of nourishment and care. Consider the Church as one that symbolically and mystically represents that of the human body, a meaningful metaphor the Apostle Paul provides in 1 Corinthians 12:27. The organic body of a man requires exercise, food, and stimulation through interaction with others. If a man’s body is not exercised, he grows lazy and unhealthy, hence unable to move onto adventurous quests of great feats. If a man is not fed, he grows extremely skinny and is a gaunt, grumpy creature; he will eventually wither up and die. If he is not given an outlet for social stimulus—that is, interaction with one’s family, friends, and strangers—he grows antisocial and spiteful towards others, drawing himself away from the world and becoming hidden from mortal eyes.

Like the human body, the Church requires to be consistently nourished, renewed, and socialized. Otherwise, it will crumble and become dissonant of the institution which Christ founded. But how is the Church exercised? How is she fed? How does she socialize with others?

Firstly, the Church is exercised through its take on difficult social, political, and geopolitical issues. When God’s people are forced into what might be considered uncomfortable situations, the Church’s will and capabilities are stretched and strengthened like those of a bodybuilder, hence giving her a strong arm to guide those who come to her embrace. In relation to this, we have seen phenomenal feats of exercise in the Church over the last 20 centuries, which the Jerusalem Council attests to (Acts 15). We have also seen these feats in the Church’s defense of the nature of Christ and the Trinitarian Godhead under the influx of Arian and Nestorian heretics, among others. Presently, however, the church has not hurdled any of such obstacles. The organism, once a strong and hardy institution due to its consistent opposition, has become lazy and fat, unable to defend itself against arguments which would have been utterly destroyed by the strength of the Great Church in her prime. Congregations have shrugged off social, political, and geopolitical issues as individual matters. In effect, the organism itself has too often refrained from involving itself in formal matters in fear of offending its opposition.

Secondly, the word of God feeds the Church. The preaching of truth at the pulpit and the application of sound doctrine are the lifeblood of the Christian faith. Without a solidly grounded preacher, the local congregation will not have a solid foundation. The preacher, then, can be understood as a prophet for his church, leading the people through social issues and civil matters and influencing and guiding them through dangerous waters without anything but the Word of God. Therefore, the Church must be fed by the Word of God, or else, like its organic metaphorical counterpart, it will wither up and die.

The inception of pastors of congregations who choose to not preach the truth due to its possibly offensive nature and context risks the nourishment of the Church as an organism. Truth must be preached at all costs and in all situations; otherwise, the Church will starve, and its people will be willing to settle for any crumb of bread as their practicing authority. As the prophet of his congregation, the prophet must guide his church to the wealthy spiritual deposit of the Word of God. He must also bring his flock to the “spiritual gym,” so to speak, so that they may exercise the Church and its social function in addition to its understanding of the Word. Indeed, the two are inseparable.

Thirdly and lastly, the Church is socialized through—obviously—its social interaction with the outside world. How do Christians treat those who are not Christians? If the treatment of non-Christians by Christians is anything less than the love which Christ expressed for us upon the Cross, then we are certainly hopeless. Although Jesus sets the standard impossibly high, but his is an example for all of his disciples to follow regardless of their political beliefs. The social aspect of the gospel is crucial so Christianity will understand the world and work with it to accomplish God’s will. We cannot evangelize those whom we cannot understand; therefore, the Church must be socialized by treating the poor, the needy, the hungry, and the homeless as they would Christ Himself.

THE FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH

The office of prophet exists only because of the life and work of Christ. Each of us is given “grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people” (Ephesians 4:7-16 NRSV; cf. Psalm 68:18). The only reason the prophetic office is in function today is because of the work of God through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

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We cannot evangelize those whom we cannot understand. How does this statement change your perspective of addressing social issues?

THE IMPACT OF MATERIALISM IN CHRISTIAN CULTURE

This culture of “have it now” and instant gratification has negatively impacted Christianity as it has blinded Christians to the call to sacrifice. In the famous words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of his world… When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Sadly, this call has gone unheeded and disrespected by many evangelicals today; instead, Christians today brag about their new home, new job, or new car. Searching through the #blessed category in social media outlets reveals the strong correlation which many make between God’s favor and material possessions, without realizing that the bible states otherwise. Remember the words of Jesus: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God,” (Mark 10:25 NRSV).

Many Christians today are distracted by social media and by the “interconnectedness” which technology brings. They are too busy tweeting about their material blessings while countless children die of poverty every year. The materialism in this present age has undeniably made the world revolve around the individual. In addition, Christians presently consider themselves blessed when they enter into a top-tier college, acquire a dream-job, or attend a renowned Christian rock concert. While God loves his children and certainly tends to their needs, God does not will for Christians to pursue temporal, material endeavors.

Consider the lives of the apostles, who, upon their apostleship, did not pursue great worldly feats. However, they endured civil and religious persecution by various authorities because of their commitment to making a change in the world. If Peter were alive today, would he have spoken of the wrong concept of being blessed? Certainly not, and according to tradition, Peter requested to be crucified upside-down due to his conviction of unworthiness to share the same death as Jesus Christ.

The love of money and possessions is not exclusive to Christianity; however, even Christians are not immune to the trap of greed and covetousness. Nonetheless, the command to the rich, young ruler applies to our lives as well. Besides, we are expected to sell all that we have (or are able) and give it to the poor in order to follow Christ. If we seek to humbly brag about our newest gadgets, feats, or any other material possession or achievement, then we will fail to sacrifice any luxury to help others and instead rot in the pit of our worldly desires.

 

Don’t miss out on our LIVE conference call as we discover learn about being the Prophet in the Marketplace.  Here are ways to join:

 

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WHAT DO YOU THINK SACRIFICE AS A CHRISTIAN AS YOU THRIVE IN THIS “HAVE IT NOW” MENTALITY?