Hearing, But Not Listening

A serious quote from this morning devotions: “The majority of the church in America have a habit of listening to God and agreeing with Him, then disobeying Him” (Pastor Francis Chan, whose congregation gives 55% of income to others). John the Apostle quoted Jesus on this subject in chapters 14-17 where John quotes Jesus that the others missed out completely. John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey me.”

In case you think that Brother Chan preaches for a small back woods congregation, he preaches to the intellectual elite in tech center Simi Valley, California, and that 55% included a yearly pledge of 1 million dollars to feed hungry children, in four quarterly pledges of $250,000. One summer on due date, the bank account was too low to meet the obligation, and the elders prayed, and that Sunday’s offering was $250,001.

Yes, Agape Christian is, as far as covenant is concerned, a New Testament church. However, for us as believers, our total theology is coming from, and is concerned with, the whole Bible. This is because we are 100% based on a relationship with the second person of the Trinity.  Jesus told his frightened Apostles and disciples on the night of Resurrection Sunday, “I told you (to know about all this death and resurrection), and to know me, you need to read and know Moses, the Psalms, and the prophets (paraphrase Luke 24).

As such, we believe there is a bunch of the Bible to believe. So, listen to Jesus in John 14:23, “Jesus said, ‘If you love me and obey my commands…’” — Jesus did not say one of my commands, but obey my commands — “‘My father will love you, and we will make our home in you…’”

The vast majority of the preachers on Moody Radio, or over independent KELP radio, do not believe baptism is necessary for salvation; yet, Jesus said through Peter in 1 Peter 3:20, “baptism doth now save you…”

When you want Jesus living in you, you need to be baptized. If you are arguing with me about baptism, you are proving my position of agreeing with God that the Bible is God’s word, “But I am not going to obey it concerning baptism.”

No church that I know of refuses to take up, or in collection boxes, to receive an offering each Sunday. The same scriptures call for weekly Lord’s Supper. Regardless, the vast majority of mainline and Evangelical churches reject weekly Communion services in disobedience to Jesus.

The Bible clearly speaks of selecting from among you elders and deacons; yet, some churches honor their Pastor as their elder (and he should be; in the Bible there is always a plurality of elders, pastors, overseers),  then select a deacon board to control and run the church. Again, hearing the word of God and ignoring it.

D.L. Moody, and Billy Graham, had great ministries by ignoring these scriptures; I will not judge them. I just don’t want to build a ministry on disobedience.

God has a direction and example for everything he has asked us to do. However, we must be careful in selecting what we require as necessary for us in the Christian covenant. Context is very important; also to whom was the command given, when was it given, under what covenant was it given, and for what purpose was it given? These questions will keep you from a lot of errors.

When Lori went to Guatemala she noticed women were totally quiet in church. She found most of the woman were Mayan and did not speak or understand Spanish, the language in which church was held. They asked their husbands what went on in church when they got home—very good.  She also noticed a monthly absence from church among women. Lori, by then, was conversant in Mayan and asked the ladies about their absence. In the Hebrew law, woman were not allowed in the temple during their minstrel period; so, the men and women at San Raymundo carried an Old Testament law that was nailed to the cross over to church times. Lori and Queno had a lot of teaching to do to correct.

Consider: baptism is always immersion in water by definition and practice. The Sabbath is always Saturday by definition and its place on the calendar, never Sunday, no matter how many elders pray for this beautiful Sabbath day on Sunday morning. God is the only one mentioned in the Bible as Reverend, no matter how many reporters write Reverend in front of Herb’s name. The people are the church, not the building in which they meet. The Wise men came to visit Mary and Jesus when Jesus was a toddler in their home, not at a stable or cave where Jesus was born, no mater how many Christmas cards and church plays have them visiting the barn. Cleanliness is not next to Godliness, as a Bible saying, no matter how it improves the environment around you. 

If you want to know exactly what the Bible says, don’t listen to Christian radio; read the Bible.

Now, let me be clear, I do not reject any of these as Christian at Communion time; we welcome them to the Lord’s Table and accept them as brothers/sisters in Christ. The reason being, I do not know how much error God will stand and still say, “WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT.”  If he doesn’t accept some error, I am in trouble.

Now we come to one of those places Herb needs to listen carefully, and seek help to move on.

James two tells us neither to give preference to the rich, nor neglect the poor in our fellowship; both are the children of God and brothers in

Christ. This brings me to a dilemma that I face each month in getting ready for my monthly budget wire to Guatemala. Our monthly budget is over $30,000 with $6,000 raised from the students and parents in Guatemala.

When, New Iberian Mission started we were raising a budget of $600 a month for David Scates, and reaching the Navajo nation for Jesus.  That job done, it was $600 a month for teacher Lori at Colegio Biblico. Herb was the financial agent for both.

The major giving churches were First Christian (Vidor and Orangefield), Washington Boulevard Christian Church in Beaumont, Texas, and Valley View Christian in Dallas. Since then, Washington Boulevard merged and disappeared, and Valley View divided in two. The persons supporting Lori at all churches back then have gone to be with the Lord or retired and no longer in charge. They have passed the torch, and we have a new generation at the original churches. Most of my generation has gone on to be with the Lord.

With the exception of Valley View and now Compass Christian that are giving just a little over and a little under one thousand each, the rest of the gifts, except for a couple churches that have moved up to $500 each, are $10 to $200 each. Each month to make budget I need several gifts from my wealthy friends of several thousand each. I call these my heavy hitters. I love my gifts of $10, and they get the same thank you that a gift of $2,000 or more receives. Our backbone gifts are monthly $45 sponsor gifts.

One of our most faithful groups is widows of original supporters at monthly regular gifts of $15 to $200 a month, and one a gift of $500 every few months. I love these girls that give out of their two mites account. Then there are the young and middle class families rearing children and caring for old folks. Regular families, dear friends, that make up the balance of our giving, I love these dear folks, and look forward to their letters and cards each month; they are all dear family.

The truth is, each month there is another funeral, or retirement to a high price nursing home and another check is missing in the mail. God has big plans for Morning Glory, and it is going to cost bunches; we talk about it all the time, that is, God and I. We must keep every $10 and $15 check; at the same time we need to reach into churches and individuals that can write a monthly check for $5,000 or more.

My struggling middle class families cannot do that. I do not want to lose them, but I need to expand, or tell God to back off, and to tell Lori to quit dreaming. I can’t do that to God or Lori.

So, Lori and I are reaching out to new churches and individuals to make up the budget. I do not want anyone to feel that they are not needed; our campus that would require a million dollars to replace or duplicate today was built on the back of hard working, common home folks. It is time to enlarge the family.

To honor James and not give preference or rejection to rich or poor is also to realize that many wealthy are given wealth to share it with God’s projects. Men like Francis Chan’s congregation in California that can give a million dollars a year among other gifts to feed hungry children.

It is just as biblically wrong to reject a rich brother that God has blessed, as to reject a poor man that God loves. Each is made in the likeness of God.

Our job is to listen, read, and rightly divide the word of God, then totally obey it—every word of it. To do that, we need to pray for Herb and Lori as they reach out for new sources of funds for Morning Glory.