Guest post from James R. Barber, board member for First Mission
First Mission had it’s 4th annual fundraising pasta dinner on September 9th 2017. It was held again at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship with up to 50 in attendance. We are very grateful for those who were able to join us as well as those viewing from Facebook live.
First Mission raised $960.00 from this dinner as well from online giving. The dinner was provided by Italian Gardens and deserts were made from some very special people.
This years event was one to remember as a milestone in our history books. It certainly shows us the favor of God and His desire to reach the lost around the world.
A little over 2 years ago my wife and I accepted the call to be Lead Pastors here at Living Waters Chapel in the great city of Caro Michigan. I was born and raised for a time in this area so it was literally like coming back home. For my wife it was a whole new journey. But so began the next chapter in this calling we call ministry.
Upon being in Caro for just a week I became acquainted with one of the other local Pastors named Jason Garwood. He pastors what is considered the local big church called Colwood Church. He and I immediately hit it off. Which some may find strange because I am a Pentecostal through and through and he is Reformed through and through. But our differences in doctrinal beliefs did not hinder our friendship what so ever. We of course asked each other questions in regards to our biblical beliefs but most of the time we just hung out, had lunch together, vented and, prayed together. He quickly became one of my closest confidants.
This past Sunday he announced to his congregation that God has called him and his wife to plant a church in Virginia near Washington D.C. Upon hearing of this I was filled with a mix of sadness, joy and anticipation (if that is even possible). I was filled with joy because Jason and his wife, at the same time, heard from the Lord about their next chapter in ministry. I was filled with anticipation because of how God will be using them in the D.C area. Because lets face it...Washington D.C needs a dose of Jesus!!!! But I was filled with sadness because my confidant, my colleague, my friend, my brother in Christ was going to be leaving. While the sadness only lasted a little while, it does not take away the fact that I will miss my brother.
This reminded me of the story of Paul and Barnabas found in the book of Acts. Now I know what you may be thinking...no Jason and I did I not have a sort of falling out they way Paul and Barnabas did lol! Here were two godly men, loved by the churches, filled with the Spirit, enduring persecution together, seeing people saved, and enjoying an effective ministry in their churches and in their cities...just like Jason and I. Now Paul and Barnabas quarreled and parted ways. Jason and I never quarreled but we are parting ways to further the Kingdom of God. The ministries of both Paul and Barnabas continued—in fact, the number of missionary teams doubled! And God can and will do the same for Jason and I in our respective cities and churches that we are called too pastor.
Yes I will miss my brother in Christ. But I have a choice. I can either choose to miss him to the point of complaining and making my life and his lifer miserable or I can rejoice in the fact that Jason is being obedient to the call of God on his life. I choose to rejoice!!!! Hey...someone has to go and preach repentance in the D.C area and it might as well be Jason Garwood. It's just like this theologian named Jason Garwood has always said; "As the pulpit and church go, so our country goes". I don't know about you but I do not like the way our country is going and I can't think of a better guy, then Jason, to go and battle for the cause of Jesus Christ!!! Jason...I support you and your family 100%. Love you my brother!!!
You would be hard pressed to not see what is going on in Charlottesville Virginia. It is literally all over the news, social media, newspapers etc. And as a Follower of Christ and a Minister of the Gospel of Jesus of Christ I feel it is necessary for me to make a statement.
I stand AGAINST any and all forms of racism. I stand against any group that claims that they are Christians but yet violently and angrily attack people of the same race or a different race. I stand AGAINST the KKK, White Supremacist, Communist, the Black Panthers, or any group that promotes violence against humans beings.
To say that your a Christian and then verbally belittle, verbally assault, physically assault and demean any person or group then you are doing the exact opposite of Christ has called Christians to do.
“And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.””
Mark 12:30-31 (NLT)
This scripture is straight from the mouth of Jesus Himself. If you call yourself a Christian and do not live by this then you need to re-educate yourself on the things of Jesus.
“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”
John 15:12 (NLT)
Again...from the mouth of Jesus. How are you showing love to somebody at the same time that you are verbally assaulting them and physically harming them? Here's a truth bomb for you...YOUR NOT!!!!
“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”
Luke 6:31 (NLT)
And yet again from the mouth of Jesus. Truth is none of us want to be treated with disdain and violence. So why would we do it to other people?
Here is what true Christians, or as I like to call us, Followers of Christ should be doing
*Stand firm on the Word of God
-No where in the Bible does it say a race is more superior then any other. All lives matter because Christ died for all man kind.
*Be the salt and light of the earth
-Followers of Christ should be the best citizens. We shopuld make things better in our own walks of life and be an example of Christ at all times. We are to show that the light and only way is Jesus
The issue in this country is not a race issue, its not a political issue, its not even a patriotic issue. Its a sin issue. And the only cure for sin is JESUS. And until we, as individuals, and as a country, turn back to God and turn from our wicked ways, then sin will reign.
Now before you start casting stones at me please read this full blog.
My wife, she's beautiful. She's my queen. I am beyond blessed to have her as my wife and my children are blessed to have her as their mother. But she is not, I repeat, she is not my equal. In fact my wife is better then me!!!!!!!
Thats right, you read that correctly, my wife is so much better then me and I am man enough to admit this. Now don't get me wrong...I am the leader and priest of my home (Ephesians 5:21-24 and 1st Corinthians 11:3) but my wife is a great manager and organizer. She manages our home (cleans, laundry, cooks, takes care of the kids etc), she manages the church we pastor (administrative work, sermon power points, supervises a cleaning crew, pro presenter, secretary work and oversees nursery and kids church ministries etc.), she works one day a week at the local hospital to keep her RN license active, home schools our oldest son, and still manages to put me first in our family. My wife is a rock star!!!
And this is where she compliments me well. I of course do help her out in our home and at the church. But she recognizes her role as a godly woman, mother and wife (Proverbs 31) and she takes it very seriously. There is absolutely zero possibility for me to do all the things she does and not go insane.
My wife is so cool that she took my last name, she gave birth to our children messing up her body, she still manages to exercise regularly and she does all this without one time complaining.
I get tired of hearing from controlling men on how they are in charge and demand that their wives respect them. I'm equally as tired hearing from the feminists on how they want everything equal. I am not talking about equal pay here because I do believe woman deserve the same pay as men get if the jobs are the same. Thats just logical and should already be happening. I am talking about the feminists who, for some unknown reason, do not want to be who God created them to be and that's to be wives and mothers and for some other ungodly reason do not want their husbands to be leaders and priests of their homes. Now I know there are passive men out there and their are wives out there who like to nag but thats a different blog for a different day.
No I am sorry folks my wife and I are not equal. In fact, she is better then me. She is the queen of our home and God knew what He was doing when He created her for me. I thank my Lord and savior every day for such a woman who first and foremost loves Jesus, me next, our kids and then our church. Husbands, I challenge you to look at your bride as Christ does...as jewels and gifts from above. Be good to her and treat her as Christ treats the church and so that God will answer your prayers (Ephesians 5:25, 1st Peter 3:7). God bless our wives!!!!
I remember hearing, as a teenager in youth group, that being a Christ follower was tough but worth it. I also heard that following Christ would cost me friends, and family. In the 6 years I have been in the ministry I have lost relationships with both friends and family because I choose to stand on righteousness and the Word of God. But I always wondered why this was, especially with family. Then I read this scripture one day and it all dawned on me.
"If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you."
John 15:18-19 (NLT)
This of course is straight from the mouth of Jesus, and it should cut straight to our very souls.
Yesterday was Memorial Day (05/29/2017) and my older brother and his family came over to my home for a Memorial Day cook out. My brother, who is a pastor as well, and I always get into biblical, political and theological conversations. What I love about conversations with him though, is that even though we may have a difference in opinion on any issue we will have a friendly debate and then drop the subject almost entirely. As we were talking yesterday I stated to him, "The more I grow in Christ, and the more I stand on righteousness, the more the people around me and in this world hate me." My brother responded back with, "Well....yeah." He's right, I so should have expected this.
As pastors and leaders, we will always face the opposition. The enemy who is satan. And he is a crafty one. I have seen it first hand how the enemy has used family members, friends, church members, and leaders to come against the church and Followers of Christ, and treat us like we are beneath them because of the morals and values that we live by because of the Word of God. I have even had an individual, who worked in full time ministry, and was an ordained minster, tell me that I must recognize same sex marriage because it is legal. I do not care what this country's government says is legal. If it directly violates the written infallible Word of God, then I will be civilly disobedient. See Acts 5:29.
I have noticed that the more I grow in Christ, the more I want to be like HIm. One of my prayers that I pray almost daily is that God breaks my heart for what breaks His. You know what truly breaks Gods heart? The answer is sin. Sin separates us from Him for all of eternity. His desire for us is to have a thriving relationship with Him through His son Jesus Christ. If sin breaks Gods heart, then sin should break our hearts as well, especially the hearts of pastors and church leaders.
Pastors who preach against sin are a dying breed. We have to many pastors who preach a feel good, sappy, candy coated message, so they do not offend the people who may be writing big checks to their churches or ministries. What ever happened to pastors, church leaders, and churches fully being reliant on God and God alone? I am by no means saying that you should preach hell fire and brim stone every time you speak. I do believe you need a balance of preaching against sin and acknowledging Gods grace in every sermon. You will come to find that people hate to hear about sin because it goes against their lifestyle and their comfortability. But as church leaders what do we do?
First and foremost, we pray and ask God for wisdom and guidance (James 1:5, Psalm 32:8). Once we submit to be the hands and feet of Jesus then God will use us in mighty ways but we must come to Him first and ask.
Next, we stand firmly on the infallible Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). All our sermons, sermon points should always come from the scriptures and must always be based around Jesus. Jesus came into the world to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) so we must be willing to do the same thing.
Finally, we stand on righteousness. This is where a lot of pastors and church leaders fail. We cannot compromise on righteousness and the Word of God. This will not be easy but through Christ we will have strength (Philippians 4:13). You will have family, friends, leaders and those who say they are Christians stand against you, belittle you and even gossip about you all because of your decision to live a life of righteousness completely centered around Jesus Christ.
When people stand against you because of your righteous living, then they are standing against almighty God. Let me leave you with a scripture, from the mouth of Jesus again, that has been therapeutic for me for several years now.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NLT)
If you get on social media, as I am sure most of you have, or even watch the news you will see that there is a major divide going on in our country. You will also see that the President and Vice-President of the United States are under major attacks left and right on a daily and nightly basis. The troubling thing for me though is I see fellow clergy men and those who call themselves Christians verbally assaulting our leaders.
After President Trump won the presidency back in November 2016, I asked several of the older more mature church members in my church if they had ever seen such division in their life time and if they had ever seen an individual, who was elected by the American people, come under such attacks that most people would shutter in fear or shut the world away, to which they stated no they had not seen this in their life time.
As pastors and leaders in your church you will face this kind of attacks yourself. Even this year, 2017, I myself have come under major attacks and I have had to address the gossip from the pulpit. But where did the disconnect start in this great country? Why all the division? Why all the bitterness and strife? These are legit questions and as pastors and church leaders we may feel that we are faced with a dilemma. Do we cave in to all the attacks and voice our opinions? Do we never talk about politics in our churches or from the pulpit as to not offend anyone? The answer to this is simple really.
As Followers of Christ, church leaders and or pastors you are called to higher standard. We are called to be obedient and up hold the infallible Word of God. This means that we pray for all our leadership not bash them. See 1st Timothy 2:1-2, 1st Peter 2:17 and Romans 13. There is no in between here. If you have people tell you that they will not pray for our leaders then it is obvious there are some heart issues going on and you need to pray with them and most likely meet with them in private to encourage and guide them.
I have actually preached a sermon in my church and at the local jail in regards to praying for our leadership. And every time someone has the question, "what if our leaders or government tells us to do something that is contrary to the written Word of God?". Great question and again as Followers of Christ we must go back to the Bible.
“Then they brought the apostles before the high council, where the high priest confronted them. “We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s name!” he said. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about Him, and you want to make us responsible for His death!” But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” Acts 5:27-29 (NLT)
This scripture paints a clear picture and answers that question. Here we have Peter and the Apostles who were preaching and declaring the Name above all names Jesus. When the high priest and council reminded them that they were given strict orders to not teach/preach the name of Jesus ever again Peter and the Apostles simply stated that they must obey Gods law rather then mans law. So if any leader or government entity ever passes laws, which has happened, that directly goes against what the Word of God says then we have the biblical right to be disobedient civilly.
Let me be candid for a bit here. I did not nor do I still stand for anything President Obama stood for. Marriage is God ordained to be between a man and a woman. PERIOD! You cannot get around this and the fact that some may disagree will never change the Word of God. Abortion is murder! We cannot expect to have God bless a nation or a government that allows such a travesty. I felt that underneath President Obamas leadership that America was the laughing stock of the world. But even in all this I still prayed for him constantly. Why? 2 reasons why. 1) The Bible tells me to and 2) He was my president whether I voted for him or not. If by some miracle of a chance I had ran into President Obama in public I would have honored him, shook his hand and taken a selfie. I mean why wouldn't I? He was the President of the United States!!!! If the opportunity presented itself for me to sow spiritually into President Obamas life then I so would have done that. I even prayed for President Obama from the pulpit and I do the same now for President Trump.
While the Word of God is clear that we are to pray for leadership no where does it state that we have to agree with them. Remember that our leaders are human. And while government is biblical us humans have ruined what I believe God ordained because of sin and our lack of wisdom and knowledge.
If you are a Pastor, church leader and follow of Christ, lift up our leaders in prayer daily. Why wouldn't we want our leaders and this country to be successful? Why would we set an example of bashing our leadership when they are those out there that are watching our every move and hearing every word we are saying and if what we are doing and what we are saying is not God honoring then we may have just lost someone we could have added to the King of God.
This is Andrew, the founder of First Mission. I am honored to have my brother as a part of First Mission. He is happy to start blogging for First Mission. The focus will be encouraging and supporting pastors and leaders in their ministries. I hope you enjoy his ministry here with First Mission. Below is his first post.
President & Founder
I am so excited to be blogging. And this will not be your typical mommy (seeing as I am not a woman), or pastors blog. My goal with blogging will be to equip and encourage new or current leaders in the ministry field.
Ministry can be a very lonely occupation that's not for the faint of heart. I know what your thinking..."Then why are you in full time ministry?" The answer is simple...I answered the call of God on my life. But at no time is Gods calling for us ministers are we meant to go at it alone. Next your probably thinking..."that's what you have a wife for then preacher!" This is partly true. Yes my wife is my much better half and helps me in our calling. But there is something about having some other Godly men that I can go to that can hold me accountable and help guide me in this journey we call ministry.
Occasionally in my blog I may post my opinions on certain issues that the world is encountering or that the church may be going through. But please do not take it as I am attacking anybody that may have a difference of opinion or that may translate a scripture differently then I do.
I do have some ground rules though. Please refrain from any course language. If you are not sure exactly what course language may be please see Ephesians 4:29. Also, do not ever attack my family. You will be forgiven but permanently removed.
Finally, I want all you minsters to know that you are loved and we all need each other. If I can be of assistance in scripture research or better yet prayer please do not hesitate to ask.