Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Is There Any Justice In Christmas?

By all accounts Jesus should not have even been born! Let me clarify by all human accounts Jesus should not have been born. First, in a highly religious community a young teenage girl who was engaged and practically married is found out to be pregnant. Second her husband, or future husband finds out. No this isn't an episode of 'teen mom' on MTV it's the story of Jesus becoming a baby. We know that Jesus was even considered illegitimate by the community in which he lived and ministered because they said about him, "isn't this Mary's son?"(Mark 6:3) Third in that seriously religious community the penalty for fornication or adultery was death by stoning (Deuteronomy 22:22). Mary should have and would have been stoned typically in that day and age. In this 'legal system' a woman found to be with child would be stoned, and baby, and mother killed. In our modern day and age however a same scenario with a super religious family might just abort the baby. It happens more often than you might think (More than 7 in 10 U.S. women obtaining an abortion report a religious affiliation 37% protestant, 28% Catholic and 7% other Guttmacher Institute)
But for the purposes of this post I want to focus on Joseph the father, or the man rather, who married Mary, and took Jesus to be his own son. It says of Joseph that he was a just man, "And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. (Matthew 1:19 ESV). Why was he just? Wouldn't it have been just according to the law of Moses given by God to put her away publicly (nice way of saying divorce) and even put her to death? No, Matthew notices a deeper justice, a Godly justice. Like Jesus said later, "Moses allowed divorce because of your hardness of heart." (Matthew 19:8) Wow! what if Joseph had not been just and done what the law allowed him to do? But Gods plans were deeper and richer and more total than we could have ever imagined. And how ironic that He decided to leave the fate of His abounding awesome redemption in the hands of a 'just man'. And that was the plan from the beginning to let justice reign on the first Christmas night in the deliverance of man through a baby. Yes the fate of justice in this world would lie on the shoulders of that baby boy one day on Calvary where he would drink the cup of the wrath of God for us.
Yes, Christmas is just. It is God's ultimate act of Justice. It is God weaving an incredible story to appease his own wrath in Jesus. Christmas is God fulfilling his demand for justice in Jesus' manger, righteous life, substitutionary cross, and victorious resurrection for you and me. This Christmas I rest in the justice of God, and that His righteous and just requirement is met in that little manger scene when God became man.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are Tithes a New Testament Mandate?

I am going to start off stating my opinion to that question. Are we meant to obey the Old Testament mandate to give to God 10% of our income? YES! I believe that in the Church we should be practicing this Old Testament principle. I am believing it stronger and stronger these past days. I am coming to be aware that it is more deeply spiritual than I have ever imagined, and I pray that it will become that for you too. I have been studying Hebrews, and I came across Hebrews 7 in my study. I commend the whole chapter for you to read. If there is any question that Hebrews belongs in the Bible then this chapter should clear things up for you. It is an incredibly eloquent argument that Jesus is our High Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. The story of Melchizedek is very cool. Abraham gave Him a tenth of the spoils of war. He was the King and priest of Salem which would become Jerusalem.

It says his lineage was not able to be traced. and so he is the quintessential priest. Some even believe that he is one of those mysterious Biblical characters that might be a pre-incarnate Christ. I am one of those people. I believe that this passage at the very least links Melchizedek and Jesus in their eternal roles as priest, but I do think the passage goes further and that the character here is further presented as a pre-incarnate Christ. I was struck by 7:8 mostly that says,"In this case mortal men (Levitical Priests) receive tithes, but in that case one (Melchizedek=Jesus) receives them of whom it is witnesses that he lives on." Verse 17 also points out that Jesus is, "a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek". Meaning Jesus is now and forever more will be a priest! He is also, as Hebrews so clearly shows, performed our atonement "once for all", and He continues to perform the role of priest. So our atonement is an ongoing thing that will be eternal. We also know from Hebrews that the temple that was on earth is only a shadow and copy of the true temple and tabernacle in heaven. Jesus performs his priestly ritual continually in heaven, and sits down at the right hand of the Father. We will know him by His scars. So he stands in the Holy of Holies in Heaven to perform the office of the Priesthood perpetually and to continue to make atonement for our sins until the day of the redemption of our bodies. As the Perpetual Priest He also performs other roles like receiving the tithe. Now a logical question comes up why would he need the tithe? The Levitical tithe was received for the livelihood of the priests. Jesus doesn't need the tithe to survive. We can draw from this and many other passages that he receives the tithe for three specific reasons
1. He receives the Tithe as worship. If he is perpetual priest he is also Holy, Innocent, Undefiled, Separate, and Exalted above heaven. The act of worship is calling someone greater, as it says Abraham did to Melchizadek. He saw him as greater and thus his tithe was given. As Hebrews 7:7 says, "the lesser is blessed by the greater", and make no mistake Christ is greater than us, so only he has the right to bless us, and only we have the duty to worship him. Our tithe is a way to worship him as High Priest. We give to him because in that act of giving something of value to Him, it shows the world, us, and Him that we believe that he is greater.
2. The Tithe displays His greatness to the world. As High Priest Jesus is perpetually standing in the gap and making intercession, advocating, and pleading to the father for us.  He has this office forever! He will continue in it. Hebrews 9:12 describes how Jesus entered the Most Holy place in heaven making redemption with his own blood once and for all. Our tithe to Him is not necessary He does not need it, but it displays His greatness as the one and only all sufficient atoning sacrifice for sins. It is a sign of his High Priestly role to a lost world needing redemption and atonement. It is first a sign and remembrance to me as I give it, of what he has done as my High Priest. Second it is a sign to the world of what he has done as High Priest, and third it is a sign to Him and to Heaven of his great role as Perpetual Priest!
3. The Tithe is a sacrifice. As it was in the Old Testament the Priests took portions of real animal and food from the sacrifices and lived off of them. Jesus doesn't live off our tithe, but he does actually/spiritually in the Church. If the tithe is given to Him and used by the Church here on earth His real spiritual body is benefiting.  If we as a Church (universal) tithed there would be no lack in the ministry initiatives that we could do. I crunched the numbers for you. If the average salary of a churchgoer were $30,000 then the annual tithe would be $3,000 if the average church of 200 people tithed that portion of their salary they would take in $600,000 a year. That is actually a low number because the median income level of the City of Columbia, where I live, is $40,000 and the median income of the San Francisco Bay area where we just moved from is $80,000. The Church I came from had a weekly attendance of 450-500. That would be a $3,600,000 yearly intake. The numbers are really not the important thing, the important thing is that the giver of tithes makes a sacrifice. It is not easy to take 10% of your income away before you even touch it, but it is joyful (2 Corinthians 9:6-7) because you are worshiping a good and faithful High Priest!

The tithe is not the issue here it is the perpetual work of Christ as High Priest! Jesus continually performs the priestly duties because HE LIVES as Priest forever. He lives now as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. So in His scars he continues to perform all atoning work. It is a present progressive act that he does on our behalf.
Jesus receives our tithe as a sign to us, to the world, and to He Himself of the atonement that he perpetually makes for us. The tithe is a sign and witness to a world that, Jesus, as the Great High Priest is greater than we could have ever imagined. His continual life is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. So how could we withhold something that makes Jesus so great? Every time I am presented with such truth I have a deep desire to worship Him for His greatness. King of Heaven Below can assist you in worshiping the High Priest!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Questions Pastors Should Get Asked in Interviews But Don't

I am currently looking for a position in Youth Ministry/Pastorate/Church Planting and I have been interviewed for several positions. I am sad to say that the meat of the interview is usually filled with questions that don't really help them understand you as a pastor. For instance one question I have been asked lately was, "What can you do for our Church?" or I even met for an informal interview recently and was told all about the Church, but never asked a question. As I thought back on my professional life in ministry which has included hundreds of interviews, and service in several church contexts, I have only on one occasion been asked a good question. A search committee of lay people, two women I deeply respect, asked the question, "If you had one chance to say something to a student, what would it be?" I was floored at the great question, and began to share the gospel as I would share it with a student because that is the one thing worth sharing! So, I have been surprised recently by the questions that pastors never get asked in interviews. The following is a list of questions that pastors should get asked in interviews, but don't. A quick disclaimer. I have never been asked these questions in a live person to person ministerial interview (occasionally on a application) but I know some men have been asked these question. So my disclaimer is that most men like me do not get asked these questions and probably should. 
1. Describe your theology.
I know many men get asked about their theology; sadly, I have never been asked this question during an interview. If I have interviewed on hundreds of occasions and never been asked this question, you can bet that many other men are also not being asked this question. Your theology is very important! Your theology describes how great or how small a view of God you have as a pastor. And frankly I want a pastor who has a high, and big, and grand view of God, not a small, measly, inept view. So let's start asking this question!
2. Tell us what you believe about the Bible.
I know that many people get asked this question too, but again I have never been asked this question. I have however been asked this question, but not in such an important process as an interview for a pastoral role, in which I would be responsible for shepherding those put in my care. If I have a weak view of the Bible, how am I to shepherd Christ's flock? Just a hint: the only thing that you can shepherd Christ's flock with is His book, the Bible. We should definitely be asking this question in interviews!
3. Tell us about your devotional life.
Again it would seem like this would be toward the top of the list as a question that we ask pastors in interviews but sadly it is not. A pastor's ability to feed the souls of his congregation is directly proportional to how he regularly feeds his own soul. Does he regularly receive nourishment in his own soul from his disciplined, celebratory, meditative, joyous, worshipful communion with Christ? If not, then you do not want him as your pastor.
4. Tell me about your relationship with your wife and kids.
Unfortunately the state of ministry is abysmal in this area. I know personally so many stories of how ministry becomes a pastor's mistress. I have recently heard of a man who was the leader of a large evangelical ministry and had some kind of "inappropriate affair" with a woman who was not his wife. The board asked him to step down, and the ministry has since closed up shop! Do you want your pastor to fall into this same, sadly, not uncommon situation? Then ask him about this! 
5. When was the last time you looked at pornography? or Do you have an internet addiction of any kind?
Unfortunately, men in the ministry are looking at porn at the same rate as the world. The computer guy at my last church recounted to me several pastors that he had to clean up their computer and the problems were the multitude of porn they had on their computers. You may want to ask them about this in a loving and open way realizing that it might be a problem currently for the guy you are interviewing. I had a serious problem with pornography, and 12 years ago God freed me and by His grace I have been free from it ever since. I take extreme measures in my life today to stay free from it! and My wife graciously is my strongest and best accountability! If you do not ask your pastor you are interviewing about this issue, then your Church might be blindsided by this problem later. At the very least you may find yourself wondering why your Church is not experiencing blessing, and it might be that your pastor has an internet addiction, or porn problem.
6. Tell us about your view of sanctification?
This might relate to the previous question also. If you are a church that values victorious Christian living, you might want to know if your pastor believes, teaches, lives, and exemplifies the victorious Christian life. I know I do, and I have have never really been asked about this in any interview I have had. 
7. If you had a chance to tell a student/person one thing, what would it be and why?
I have been asked this question! It was the best question I have ever been asked in an interview! That probably has a lot to do with why I stayed almost 9 years at that church. They believed in taking opportunities and making the most of them for the gospel. They loved their community, and preached the gospel every moment they could. At this church my office was straight across from the associate pastor for years. I think I must have overheard him lead hundreds of people to Christ over the years. If you ask this question as a church or search committee, it shows you want to make the most of every opportunity you have as a church to impact your community for Christ.

I wanted to also put out there a few questions that might not be as important as the previous questions, but they could definitely help you understand the person you might call to be your shepherd. This could also help you avoid a lot of conflict.

8. What is the most difficult thing you have ever gone through, and how did you deal with it?
The answer to this has shaped my ministry over the years. Has a pastor really ever gone through something of heart-wrenching difficulty? Has he had to deal with the most difficult things in life and how did he lean on the Lord through it? If he has he will be a better pastor. Maybe you would rather have a pastor who has dealt with the very difficult side of life, and has trusted in a great and good God to pull him through. Your church will be better for it. 
9. What is your best experience in church life? And worst?
This might also give you a good picture into how a pastor would lead you in the difficult aspects of church life. Has he experienced some extraordinary level of unity in the body? Or has he ever had to excommunicate someone? Has he ever had to display the love of Christ in church discipline? has he ever been fired or pushed out of a church? Has he ever had to fire a staff member, etc.?
10. How will you shepherd/protect the flock? How will you guard the purity of the church?
His answer to this is very important. He may be able to describe how he would do this, but this question might catch a pastor a little off guard. You may want someone who can describe instances of where and how he has sought to protect the flock, or at least be able to describe how he would. 
11. Describe your vision for the church (universal and local).
This question may be a little higher or lower in importance depending on how your church likes vision, mission, and strategy related topics. If he can articulate, a specified vision for a church, that might help you see how he fits into your particular church's life. 
12. Do you have a personal mission/vision/strategy for ministry?
This relates to the previous question and may also be more important to your church than at the bottom of the list, but it can be helpful so see if a person lines up with the particular direction of your church.  
13. Do you have a life verse/purpose?
I always found this interesting and it always helped me get to know a person more if I knew their life verse. How well do you know the man that you are calling to be your pastor? If he has a life verse that also might be helpful to get to know him better. I have known my life verse to give me direction, purpose, and a deep calling in this life's journey.

These might not all be appropriate to be asked in your particular context, but I have been interviewing lately and I wanted to give churches and ministries something to think about as they seek to hire church staff and especially pastoral staff. One thing you might do, would be to put many of these questions on a deeper application/Biblical beliefs application for those you have narrowed your search down to. I have come up with this also to help churches and people see how lacking our typical search process is for finding pastors. I have found that men are in the pulpit without churches really knowing who a person is, or if he is really walking in victory. I want to assure you many men are not walking in spiritual victory who are pastors (read Dangerous Calling for more in depth look at the state of ministry).
And when you do hire a pastor get to know him, invite him to your home, meet with him, pray with him, and seek him out as a person, and let him pour the word of God into your life. You will be glad you did.

Dangerous Calling from Crossway on Vimeo.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Is Suffering Necessary?

I am sure you, like I, have found the 23 Psalm very comforting in times of loss, distress, suffering, and pain. I have found it extremely helpful in the times when I have felt like I was hopelessly lost in my suffering, pain and grief. I have to say it is not particularly a time of distress for me recently. I am more unsure about the future right now than in any period of suffering. Frankly, I am in a good place kind, of more like the green pastures, than the valley of the shadow of death. That is maybe why Jesus is calling me to write this particular post right now because you usually have a better perspective on suffering in the green pastures than during the journey through the valley of the shadow of death.  So here are a few thoughts on the 23 Psalm and it's obvious depth into the journey of suffering and finally to show is the absolute necessity of suffering in helping us lean on the Good Shepherd for the benefit of our souls and finally "dwelling in the House of the Lord Forever".

The Lord is My Shepherd I shall not want...
Normally the crisis of life make us cry out to God more than the green pastures. I have never learned about faith deepening or trust strengthening in the easy times (green pastures). In My life I only grow in significant ways in the valley of the shadow of death. I do learn about thanksgiving in those good times, but the valley of the shadow of death is absolutely necessary because we have to lean on Christ as the Good Shepherd in those times because He is our only hope.We are tempted to resent and become bitter at the shepherd for leading us through the dark valley, but the same is true in the green pastures we are temped to love the blessing rather than the giver of all good gifts. We are tempted to love the grass rather than the Shepherd who led us to that green pasture. So there are dangers in the green pasture not just the dark valley, and the Good Shepherd leads us into all of them by His wise and good plan. "I shall not want" means that we have no lack of anything that the shepherd thinks isn't absolutely good for us. He will in his wise and good plan give us everything that we need for our good and his glory even the hardest of circumstances, He allows for our great good. As you probably notice that the Shepherd walks with us the whole way. As you endure in the hardest of trials know that the Good Shepherd has laid down His life for the Sheep, and in every way has taken on human suffering in His body on the cross, so that He can become our brother that has gone before us in taking on our sin and shame. Everything that you think is an impossible suffering he has endured more! He has become our great high priest who can sympathize with and has entered into our weakness! That has to be the most comforting thing. He has fully entered the human experience and taken onto himself the full brunt of human suffering and so he is qualified to be a Good Shepherd. So as you take on this trial, hardship,  or suffering know that if it was necessary for Jesus to be perfected through the things he suffered, then it must be absolutely necessary to suffer with Him and for Him to lead us through the dark valley. Philippians 3:10 one of my favorite verses "I want to know Christ in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death". In our sufferings we can fellowship with a Good Shepherd, Savior, and Lord.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Is Halloween Dangerous?

I was thinking about the supernatural today. I guess it seems appropriate, since today is Halloween. I was wondering why most American and Western Christians do not think the supernatural rhealm especially the demonic or spirit rhealm is real. So today in, deep contemplation, I asked my wife and she said she thought it was because it is so sensationalized in the media and treated more as entertainment rather than reality. I think it is dangerous for us as Christians to not give any credance to the spirit world, which biblically exists beyond a shadow of a doubt. I remembered the great book by C.S. Lewis called Screwtape Letters in which a senior demon is communicating in a series of letters to his young apprentice called Wormwood. Here is a lengthy quote from the book in which Screwtape describes a great strategy in demonic warfare. Making us Christians think the spirit realm is not real.
"Our policy for the moment, is to conceal ourselves.  Of course this has not always been so.  We are really faced with a cruel dilemma.  When the humans disbelieve in our existences at we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and skeptics.  At least, not yet.  I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalize and mythologize their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. …If once we can produce our perfect work – the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls ‘Forces’ while denying the existence of ‘spirits’ – then the end of the war will be in sight." (p31)

-C.S. Lewis
Screwtape Letters 
Screwtape writing to Wormwood giving him advice on keeping himself concealed and helping humans continue to disbelieve in the existence of demons

We could also say that our culture doesn't disbelieve in demonic or the supernatural rhealm, but we are just entertained by it. Witchcraft, the occult, and the like are huge selling phenomena in today's entertainment industry. That is even more dangerous. We see these things as practices and religions that entertain us is even more senseless to me. I leave you with a scripture that for us as Christians should sum up our biblical relationship with the adversary. 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:12, 13 ESV)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Is Fear Real?

I watched a good movie the other day.  It is called 'After Earth'. There was a very profound quote in the movie about fear. Will Smith is the hero character named General Cyper Raige which is by the way a pretty awesome name (way to go M. Night Shyamalan). In this particular scene he is giving his son advice on fighting an alien that can literally smell his fear. It is pretty spot on advice, and maybe even biblical. It could also be pretty helpful advice when you are fighting an alien that wants to tear you apart limb from limb, or maybe you are like me, just facing the unknown...

"Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity, Kitai (Jaden Smith character).  Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story, and that day mine changed (because he decided not to fear)."
-Will Smith character playing General Cypher Raige in 'After Earth'-

It kind of sounds like a pretty wise man once said...

"And He said to His disciples, "For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:22-32 NASB). 

Lord help us turn our fear into faith.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Is UFC 166 the Answer to Our Masculinity Problem? Masculinity, Ministry, and the cultural slide. How Should We Respond?

I read an article recently about a famous Evangelical leader who was being parodied as appealing to men to be more alpha.  In the satirical piece, he was quoted as saying, “The problem with our churches today is that the lead pastor is some sissy boy who wears cardigan sweaters, has The Carpenters dialed in on his iPod, gets his hair cut at a salon instead of a barber shop, hasn’t been to an Ultimate Fighting match, works out on an elliptical machine instead of going to isolated regions of Russia like in Rocky IV in order to harvest lumber with his teeth, and generally swishes around like Jack from Three’s Company whenever Mr. Roper was around.”  The article went on to poke fun at men who bash on guys who don't spend every waking moment doing "masculine" things like changing the oil, watching football, beating their bare chest in front of the latest UFC 166, 

or Muy Thai stick fighting.  There's a crisis in the church today; we have a skewed understanding of true masculinity, which this article highlighted by exaggerating some of the views that are out there.

I believe in men being masculine, but we would be wise to find out what truly makes a man masculine? From examining scripture, I have four observations.
1. We need a healthy balanced definition of Masculinity. Webster defines the word masculine as "having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man." It is also defined as "courageous, bold, or strong."  Nothing about violence, machismo, or emotional distance, which some of these aforementioned activities can involve.  Do we need macho guys in the pulpit or men who are connected to their families, and wives in particular.  I have found that even the act of watching football can isolate me for a complete weekend (not to mention Thursday and Monday night). Some wives are virtually widowed in the Fall; I call them "football widows."  Is masculinity now equated with violence such as UFC, and football? Both of these have made me more violent over the years (and I have played football for 10 years of my life). Jesus shows us true masculinity.  The scriptures say about Jesus in Isaiah 53:9, "He had done NO VIOLENCE, and there was no deceit in his mouth." The scriptures also talk about doing violence to our wives in Malachi 2:16. The prophet says, "The man who hates and divorces his wife," says the Lord, The God of Israel, "Does violence to the one he should protect," says the Lord almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful."  Could unfaithfulness include loving a sport or hobby more than our spouse?  I think there should be a healthy balance of strength, and boldness, kindness, and tenderness in the biblical definition of masculinity, rather than the masculinity litmus test being your ability to bash someone's face in on UFC 166. Here are some other scriptures for your perusal: Ps. 11:5, Pr. 13:2, Is. 59:7, Matt. 11:12, Jer. 22:3; Ps 119:37.

2. Men in ministry need to be spirit filled and humble. We don't need men in ministry who are more effeminate; we don't need "studs" either.  I remember years ago our student ministry decided to stop attending a very popular camp with our students because of this very issue. We attended this camp for years, and then as I began looking around at their staff, they were all studs and studdettes.  There was not one minority, disabled, unattractive, or "un-cool" person on their staff from year to year. It was an unreal picture of the kingdom of God. Jesus ministered to the odd, hurting, needy, marginalized, leprous. He reached prostitutes, people with disabilities, the sick, and tax-collectors. It also seems like the biblical definition of the 'elder' or 'overseer' seems to fly in the face of what I am going to call the "new evangelical masculinity." I would actually consider this definition the height of masculinity.  In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Paul writes that a church leader "must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."  This passage seems to be the antithesis of the description of manliness that we're hearing from several evangelical church leaders lately.

3. We need leaders whose masculinity is evidenced in part by their transformational ministry. Transformational leaders are connected emotionally (to people and the Lord).  They feel deeply, act deeply, and worship affectionately.  Men, where is your affection for the savior? We go to concerts and get crazy, or a baseball game, or for that matter play video games for countless hours, but where is our excitement to worship Christ?  A.W. Tozer said, "Any man (or woman) who is bored or turned off by worship is not ready for heaven."  So my question to you is not, Are you a masculine leader? But, do you have a living, humble, needy, celebratory, affectionate, meditative, worshipful, loving, and tender, communion with Christ? If so, you are masculine by his standards.  If we say No to any of these things, and say "I'm not a very emotional person" then we may need to examine our hearts.  We need to pray and ask him to change us into a emotionally connected servant leaders, like Jesus our master.  I'll give you a few instances of how our master was compassionate, affectionate and emotional: Matthew 14:10-18; Matthew 20:30-34; Mark 8:1-6; Luke 7:12-15; Philippians 2:1-3; Matthew 9:36-38; Mark 1:40-42; Mark 6:34; John 11:32-38; Luke 19:36-41; James 4:9, 10; Matthew 13:15; I Thessalonians 2:1-19.

4. We need men who serve faithfully rather than seeking to be superstars in the church. For example, we don't need more multi-site churches beaming sermons into their venue via satellite.  As we're seeking to lead other men, we can give them opportunities to lead and invest in them. We can give them feedback and encourage them when they take those opportunities.  They will speak with their feet and walk out the door if we don't provide opportunities to express their pastoral gifting in this way.  We need more men of average intelligence, and average teaching skills, to be preaching the not-so-average gospel in the not-so-average power of the Holy Spirit!  Our men need to be empowered through training and service.  The "big ministry" and personality-centered ministry concept gives young men the impression that if they have only 200 or fewer people in their church, they're not adequate or successful in ministry.  Success is not how many butts are in our seats.  There are so many men out there who appear "average" in other people's estimation, but they're not average because they minister week in, and week out in the Holy Spirit's power!

In conclusion, I wholly disagree that the problem with the church today is not enough "masculine" men in ministry; we don't have enough men who call on the name of the best man in all of human history, the most humane and mighty man, Jesus.  No, not the most interesting man in the world from the Dos Equis commercials.  

No, "that one," the one who did seemingly un-masculine things.  He let evil men savagely disfigure him by beating him in the face and pulling his beard, the symbol of a Jewish man's masculinity.  He then let them put him on a cruel cross to do the most masculine act in all of history!  He took responsibility!  He took responsibility for your sin and mine.  That man is the ultimate measure of masculinity.  May we all as men measure up to that man Christ, "who emptied himself taking the form of a bond-servant; and being made in the likeness of men, being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."  Can we all follow the example of Christ? Then and only then will we measure up as masculine men, and if that isn't very masculine in our culture, then I'm not masculine, and I don't want to be.  I want to be like Christ!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Richard To Speak For Your Event

Richard is currently serving as an evangelist, missional leader, and church planter of the newly formed LEAP Network in Germany. Most recently he was the student pastor at Creekside Community Church in San Leandro, CA for 8 years.  Richard graduated from Columbia International University (Columbia, South Carolina) in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science in Bible and Youth Ministry, all the while gaining valuable experience in youth ministry at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina.  Richard then moved to Savannah, Georgia where he was Minister to Students at South Effingham Community Church.  Richard returned to Columbia to finish his Masters degree in Leadership, Evangelism and Discipleship in 2004.  During his time in seminary, Richard worked as Minister to Students at Red Bank Baptist Church in Lexington, South Carolina.  He then served at Tommy’s Interactive Church in Columbia, South Carolina, where nearly the entire congregation was made up of students.  After finishing his degree, Richard worked with adolescents at a mental health hospital in Lexington, South Carolina.  Richard is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry degree at American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, CA (in partnership with Bakke Graduate University in Seattle) Richard is married to Simone whom he met while working with Tommy’s Interactive Church. Richard has two daughters and one son. Ana was born in 2006, Lydia was born in 2009, and Caleb was born November of 2011.  He enjoys sports, playing with his daughters, hanging out with his wife, and watching movies and their favorite TV shows together.  Richard is passionate about seeing an ever increasing number of students come to know, worship, and obey Jesus authentically. Richard has been Preaching and communicating to youth part time or full time since 1994.  His experience is vast, from speaking to small groups, to much larger crowds.  He is an engaging, funny, energetic, animated, and a passionate communicator.  He seeks to challenge students into greater relationship with the Lord or call them to make a commitment to him for the very first time.


Reference Quotes from Past Ministry Partners

“I taught Richard Moore at Columbia International University. He was a fine student and frankly turned out to be one the most gifted graduates of our Youth Ministry major. I recommend him to you without reservation.”

-Michael Holt-
Professor of Youth Ministry
Columbia International University 1991-1998

“Richard is an exceptionally gifted speaker, who puts his words into action. Even years later, I still remember some of the messages he gave at "English Camps" here in Germany.”

-Sammy Dittmann-
Youth Pastor, Baptist Church
Essen, Germany
“Richard Moore is a man of great passion for Jesus. Richard is a godly man, great husband, and dad. He has a unique gift of communicating with a rare quality of authenticity and truth-telling. Richard is one who ministers in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

-Dr. David Olshine-
 Director of Youth Ministry, Family and Culture
Columbia International University
Co-Founder of Youth Ministry Coaches

“Richard is a gifted communicator with a heart for passionately communicating Biblical truth. His faithfulness to the Word, sensitivity to his listeners and pastoral care for people has impressed me greatly over my years of working with him. This is a man of faith boldly serving the Church and glorifying God"

-Brian Howard-
Former Program Director, Sonshine Specialized Camping Ministires
Current Student Ministries Programs Director
Calvary Community Church, Westlake Village, CA

“I have known Richard for around 17 years. He has been a Godly man and would do whatever it takes to reach people for the cause of Christ. I was fortunate to be on the search committee and Chairman of Deacons when Richard came to Red Bank Baptist Church. I saw both of my sons grow in Christ under Richards’s leadership.”

-Rev. Grady Harmon-
Former Chairman of the Deacon Board
Red Bank Baptist Church, Lexington, SC

"I have had the privilege and the blessing of working with Richard Moore at Tommy's Interactive Church in Columbia, SC and studying with him at Columbia International University. Richard is an excellent youth pastor and a committed student of God's word. Richard is passionate about seeing youth come to know Jesus and demonstrates competence and integrity in leadership and in ministry. Despite his many proficiencies in ministry, Richard is humble and dependent on God's Spirit to lead him. Richard chooses intentionally to "put on the towel" as he models Jesus' servant leadership style. It was a pleasure working with Richard and I only regret that we do not still get the opportunity to serve together."  

-Robbie Pruitt-
High School Bible Teacher
Quisqueya Christian School
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Former leadership team, Tommy's Interactive Church

"In our day and age, it is difficult to get someone to speak who is both passionate and knowledgeable. Richard is clearly both and this makes for a great speaker to students. I believe that across the country students are hungering for the Word of God delivered passionately. Richard is God's man for the job!!!"

-Adrian Despres-
Itinerant Evangelist
Kingdom Building Ministries 
Chaplain, University of South Carolina Football Team

Send Inquiries to please try to answer these questions to the best of your ability...

1. What is the name of the event?
2. Contact Name:
3. What is your position held in relation to the event?
4. Phone Number:
5. Email Address:
6. Website Address:
7. Event Dates:
8. Where will the event be held?
9. What airport would Richard fly into?
10. When do you expect Richard to arrive at event?
11. When would Richard be available to return from event?
12. How many times will Richard be speaking?
13. How long should Richard plan to speak for each message?
14. When is the event scheduled (precise times of day)?
15. How many are expected to be in attendance?
16. What is the general age group of attendees?
17. What would you like Richard to speak on (Scripture, Topic)?
18. Would you cover all of Richard's expenses (airfare, hotel, food, transportation to and from event)?
19. Please feel free to list any other pertinent information:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Paul's Discipleship Strategy

Paul's Discipleship strategy was very very intense.  That is why it was also so effective.  One of the many passages where he expresses that strategy is found in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-19 where he expresses his deep affection for the Thessalonian believers. Actually I am pretty sure that if Paul read the title of my blog it would seem so foreign to him to call this a 'strategy' because it was so personal to him. That is the label we put on it in the modern era. All our attempts to disciple people into the life of Christ are, and have failed. We have for the most part relegated the discipleship life to what we as a church do on Sundays.  This would never have been able to fit into the practice of Paul. He could not have even have come close to accomplishing what he describes in this passage on Sundays. I have heard from a mentor and friend that a very famous preacher said that "discipleship happens for him during his sermons on Sundays"! I also heard from this same mentor that a youth pastor had been 'let go' recently after 10 years at a large church, and was devastated.  He was devastated because youth ministry is the ministry in churches, in my experience, that comes closest to what Paul talks about here.  In youth ministry over time you get really close to people in your desire to minister to them.  This has been my experience at least.  As I read and exegeted Paul's experience or 'strategy', if we have to call it that, of discipleship it blew me away how little of those things I actually did while discipleing students for the past 8 years. But in doing only some of them that is why it was still that hard to leave my most recent church like I did two weeks ago. because when you show a deep affection, your job then as a pastor becomes so personal it is not a job anymore.  Please read the following passage here and my notes of the things that Paul implemented with the Thessalonian believers and ask, Does my discipleship strategy line up with his...

For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-God is witness- nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost. But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while-in person, not in spirit-were all the more eager with great desire to see your face. For we wanted to come to you-I, Paul, more than once-and yet Satan hindered us. For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:1-19 NASB)

Here is a list of the things he did while among the Thessalonians:
1. Suffering (for the Gospel)
2. Boldness (in the Gospel)
3. Opposition (He faced Opposition to the Gospel)
4. Exhortation (A deep pleading to obey the Gospel)
5. Approved (He was deeply called by God) 
6. Entrusted (He was entrusted with the gospel and He entrusted them also with the sacred Gospel)
7. Speak to please God not men (Paul always sought to please Jesus through reliance on Him)
8. Non-flattering speech (He did not seek to flatter the Thessalonians but was in their face)
9. Non-greedy (He sought to never be a burden on them)
10. Non-glory seeking (He sought only God and His glory)
11. Gentle (as a nursing mother)
12. Affectionate
13. Labor (Faithfully labored among them)
14. Hardship (Faced great hardship for the gospel and them)
15. Proclaimed (Fearlessly)
16. Devoutly (He was devout so they could see holiness in action)
17. Uprightly (not just a holy life but he avoided things that could be construed as not being right)
18. Blamelessly (and walked a blameless life in Christ in front of them)
19. Exhorting (as a father does his children: Notice he made it personal by seeing himself as their mother and father Just a bit personal huh?)
20. Encouraging (as a father does his children)
21. Imploring (as a father does his children)
22. Constantly thanked God when the word was received (I am terribly poor at this! He rejoiced)
23. Connected in the spirit (He saw distance from them as an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to connect them deeper in Christ!)
24. Eagerness to see each other (How many times are we so eager to see each other that you can hardly stand the time when you are not together)
25. Enduring suffering (He endured suffering for them to get a glimpse into the sufferings of Christ)
26. Disciples are hope, joy, and crown of exultation in the presence of Jesus at His coming (Do I really think of the students that I have discipled over the years as my crown of exultation (rejoicing) when I stand before Jesus on the day of his return?)

If we are honest we are probably fall woefully short of this standard of discipleship that Paul gives here. Let us repent of our inadequacy. Let us run to Jesus the perfect discipler and "fisher of men", and ask Him to make us desperate for Him and His way of affection, boldness, suffering, gentleness, Holiness, and rejoicing that He lived in, and now lives in for us!

Here are a few other passages in 1 Thessalonians that I gleaned on how Paul felt about the Thessalonians. You can peruse then and ask God to change our heart for people and become the "Fishers of Men" that Jesus would have us become!

  • "For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor," (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4 NASB)

  • "For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words". (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4, 14-18 NASB)

  • "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:4-11 NASB)

  • "But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." (1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 NASB)
Here is a quick video of what it might cost us to be a disciple and a disciplemaker of Christ.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ana Sings "Yes Jesus Loves Me" while falling asleep.

My Daughter Ana has down syndrome it also known as Trisomy 21 a third strand of Chromosome on the 21st set of Chromosomes.  Children and people with Down Syndrome experience global delays in speech, mental development, physical development, and many other health complications and risks.  She also developed a rare from of epilepsy at about 10 months old.  These episodes of seizures that she had delayed her even more. With all these factors, she has had a hard time becoming verbal. She is also very stubborn, and that has not helped much.  She must get that trait from me. My wife and I were sitting up watching a movie a few nights ago. It was not a particularly riveting film, and so I will not tell you the name of the film for the negative backlash that it might create (seeing as it won several Oscars). I will tell you however the movie Amazing Grace dealing with the same topic was much more powerful. Maybe that is because I am a Christian, and I want my social justice to affect my personal ethic, and vice versa. So we were practically falling asleep to this film and all of a sudden we heard our daughter singing something from her room dark room while falling asleep. It was an obvious melody, even though it was hard to make out what she was singing, or trying to sing. And then it became clear. She was singing "Yes Jesus Loves Me". It was a shock, surprise, and joy to hear it. We were both shocked together, and overcome with joy that our nonverbal daughter could first of all sing, and second that she could sing of the saviors love for her.  She then sang the chorus I am pretty sure "Yes Jesus Loves Ana, so Yeah".  You listen for yourself,and tell me what you think. Pretty AWESOME!!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Didi Show: Counting in Spanish, German, and English and other things

This is our next installment of the Didi Show the show that my daughter asked to do because she wants to be on TV. We talk a little bit about Germany, moving to South Carolina and she shows us her counting skills.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Didi Show Starring Lydia Moore May 28 2013

"The Didi Show" May 28th. Our little daughter said the other day that she wanted to be on TV and have a TV show. So we set up a little studio in our family room, and we made our own TV show. We will do this every Friday, and just ask Lydia a few questions about becoming missionaries. We will do our best to give you an entertaining and fun show. We hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Children Leaning on Jesus

Lydia was at youth group with me last night. I had to go to another group to present our Germany ministry. When I came back Lydia was crying and she said that she thought I had left her and was afraid. She said, "but I prayed to Jesus", when I heard this I started crying too. I asked her what she prayed and she said she asked Jesus to help her. I asked "did he help you", she said "yes He did I wasn't afraid anymore." She then said she even thought about walking home. I thought of the scripture, "I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth." (3 John 1:4 NASB) I have been praying that our children would learn to call on Jesus above us as parents. I am so grateful for this early lesson for Lydia where she learned to call on Jesus! Pray and ask God to grow a vision for your children that they would learn to see and savor Christ even at an early age. 
Also after Ana's birthday party this past weekend Lydia came into the room where Simone was and was also crying and said, "I'm going to miss all our friends when we move to Germany." Simone told her that Jesus will help us make new friends when we get to Germany. She was so surprised and happy that we will make friends there too. These small revelations and learning experiences help our children look to Jesus in all things in this process of becoming missionaries to Germany. How are you savoring Christ this week?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Eric Metaxas Speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast VERY GOOD!

This is the Author of the Bonhoeffer book that I am reading right now. It is incredible! and this speech that he gave at the National prayer breakfast is also very good. Enjoy. Here is his website also

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Richard and Simone Moore Missionaries to Germany

We are going to Germany as missionaries!!!  We are seeking support to live and work in Germany and throughout Europe.  We will be working with Teach Beyond and more specifically with the L.E.A.P. Network to empower churches to live out Jesus calling in their own individual contexts by "following Jesus into Mission".  If you would like more information you can connect with our blog, TeachBeyond, or LEAP Network.  Thanks for supporting and praying!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Drop Box Documentary

If I don't see another film this year but see this one.  I think I will be happy.  This looks awesome.  Let's all get behind this film of a man that saves children.  It could be groundbreaking! Here is the trailer

Here is another short video of the film crew arriving at the orphanage in Korea AWESOME

Day 1 from Brian Ivie on Vimeo.

and here is the website...

The Drop Box

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Don't Waste Your Life Sentence

this is the documentary about men who are locked up at Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana. It is put our by Desiring GodIt is pretty incredible.  I hope it teaches you how to not waste your life on trivial things!

Don't Waste Your Life Sentence from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Compassion: If You Can You Should

If you have the resources to buy a Starbucks drink every day then you have the resources to sponsor a child, who will be released from poverty and be freed to hear the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.  You must if you can!!! Jesus said "Let the Little Children come to me, and do not hinder them!" please do not hinder these little children from coming to Jesus by choosing Starbucks over one of them

Gratefulness from Compassion International on Vimeo.