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DISTURBING THE PEACE

An Overview Study on the Message of the Biblical Prophets

The Word of God is prophetic. In Genesis we find God declaring His first covenant with man and His declaration of sovereignty and ownership over everything He has created. In the Psalms we read of various cries to the Lord, each of which can resonate with us. In Revelation, we read of a vision given to John to warn the terminal first century generation of their end. Scripture is replete with prophets and prophetic words that demand examination to the edification of the Believer.

May the words of the prophets invigorate you and give you clarity regarding the Word of God.

(* Not intended to be exhaustive of every person that is or could be a Biblical prophet nor all the prophesies)

 

ADAM
“And the Lord God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man saying, ‘of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, do not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die’ (Genesis 2:15-17).

“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a help meet for him’ (Genesis 2:18).

“And Adam said, ‘This is now flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone, she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of man’. Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:23-25)

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took the fruit, ate, and also gave to her husband, and he did eat. And both of their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves  from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:6-8)

Curse Declarations:
“To the serpent…(Genesis 3:14-15)”
“To the woman…(Genesis 3:16)”
“To Adam…(Genesis 3:17-19)”

“For Adam and his wife, the Lord God made coats of skin, and clothed them…unless He eat of the Tree of Life and live forever, He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubims, and a flaming sword, to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:21-24)

 

ABEL
“And the Lord said to Cain,….”The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground (Genesis 4:9-10)”.

“The blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, will be required of this generation. From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah…(Luke 11:50-51)”.

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaks (Hebrews 11:4)”.

“Ye have come unto Mount Zion…and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12:22,24)”.

 

ENOCH – means “dedicated”
“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Genesis 5:24)”.

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God has translated him: for before his translation he had testimony that he pleased God (Hebrews 11:5)”.

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these saying, “Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him (Jude 14-15)”.

 

METHUSALEH – makes “death shall be sent”; lived the longest in OT
And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died (Genesis 5:27)”.

 

NOAH
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 6:8-10)”

“And , behold, I, and even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein there is breath of life, from under heaven, and everything that is in the earth shall die. But with you (Noah) I will establish my covenant, and you shall go into an ark, you and yours sons, your wife and their wives. And every living thing, two of every sort, you shall bring into the ark, to keep alive, they shall be male and female….And so Noah did everything the Lord had commanded him (Genesis 6:17-22; 7:1-9)”.

“And the Lord spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go from the ark, you, your wife, and your sons wives, bring with thee every living thing that is with thee…that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth (Genesis 8:15-17)”.

“And Noah built an altar to the Lord: and took of every clean beast and every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet aroma, and the Lord said in His heart, ‘I will not again curse the ground for man’s sake, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, neither again will I kill every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease’ (Genesis 8:20-22)”.

“And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth (Genesis 9:1)”.

“And God said, ‘This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a token between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: and I will remember my covenant which is between me, you, and every living creature, and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth (Genesis 9:12-16)”.

“By faith Noah, being warned by God of things not yet seen, moved with fear, prepared an ark  to the saving of his house ; by which he condemned the world, and became the heir of righteousness which is by faith (Hebrews 11:7)”.

 

ABRAM/ ABRAHAM  
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Get out of this land, and from your family, and your father’s house, and go to a land I will show you: and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you, and in you shall all families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abram went, as the Lord has said to him…(Genesis 12:1-4)”.

“And the Lord said to Abram…’Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are to the north, the south, and east, and west: for all the land that you see, I will give to you and your seed forever. And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth: so that if any man can number the dust of the earth, then shall your seed be numbered (Genesis 13:14-16)”.

“And My covenant shall be with you, and you shall be the father of many nations. Neither shall your name be called Abram, but Abraham, for I have made you the father of many nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, kings shall come out of you. And I will establish my covenant between me, you, and your seed after you, in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you and your seed after you. And I will give you, and your seed after you, the land which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God (Genesis 17:4-8)”.

“Are you not our God, who did drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and gave it to the seed of Abraham, your friend, forever (2 Chronicles 20:7)”.

“And do not say within yourselves, ‘We have Abraham to our father: I say to you, that God is able to raise up children of Abraham out of these stones (Matthew 3:9)”.

“They answered and to said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father’. Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham (John 8:39)”.

“Know that those who are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached the Gospel to Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed. So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham (Galatians 3:7-9)”.

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29)”.

“By faith Abraham when he was called to go out of a place to a place that he shall receive as an inheritance, obeyed: and he went out not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as a stranger….he looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:8-10)”.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promise offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac shall your seed be called’: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead: and he was received as a type (Hebrews 11:17-19)”.

“O will you know, oh vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered up Isaac upon the alter? See how his faith was with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which said, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God. You see then that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only (James 2:20-24)”.

 

MELCHIZEDEK – means “king of righteousness”
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth. And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave with tithes of all (Genesis 14:18-20)”.

“The order of Melchizedek” – Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:1-6; 7:1-28)

 

ISAAC
“And God said to Abraham, “Let it not be grievous in your sight because of the child, and because of your bondwoman, in all that Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice, for in Isaac your seed shall be called (Genesis 21:12)”.

 

JACOB – carried blessing of Abraham (cf. Genesis 28:3-4)
“And Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came upon a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun was set; and he took one of the stones  of that place and used it for a pillow, and laid down to sleep. And he had a dream, where he saw a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham, your father, and the God of Isaac, and the land where you are laying, to you I will give it, and to your seed; and your seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west, the east, the north, and the south: and in you and your seed shall all families of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with you, and will keep you in the place where you go, and I will bring you back into this land, I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken to you’. And then Jacob woke up, and he said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place; and I didn’t know it’. And he was afraid and said, ‘How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the same stone he had for his pillow, and set it as pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of that city was called Luz at first (Genesis 28:10-10)”.

“And Jacob was left alone: and there he wrestled with a man until the breaking of day. And when he saw that he did not prevail against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, ‘Let me go for the day has broken’. And he said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me’. And he said to him, What is your name? and he said, Jacob. And he said, ‘Your name shall no more be Jacob, but Israel, for as a prince you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed’…And Jacob named the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved (Genesis 32:24- 30)”.

Jacob blesses his sons and prophesies of the last days – “Gather yourselves together so that I may tell you what will befall you in the last days (Genesis chapter 49)”.

 

MOSES – “Song of Moses” (cf. Exodus chapter 15) the entirety of the law and the Old Covenant are understood to be the prophetic words of Moses

SAMUEL
He tried to persuade Israel that they did not want a king and kingdom like the nations around them (1 Samuel chapter 8)

 

ELIJAH
Elijah was known as the “troubler of Israel” (cf. 1 Kings 18:17) and challenged Ahab and the false prophets of Baal to what seemed like a duel. Of course the One True God showed His power and demonstrated the falsehood of Baal worship (1 Kings chapter 18).

 

JOEL
Spoke about the “Day of the Lord”  – a day of visions, judgement, and the Spirit of God being poured out (cf. Acts chapter 2).

 

HOSEA
Spoke of judgement and resurrection; married adulterous wife to exhibit sins of people, Israel.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. ‘Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your children (Hosea 4:6)”.

 

ISAIAH
Spoke of the “Day of the Lord” and the  “New heaven and new earth”

Isaiah 49:6

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind (Isaiah 65:17)”.

 

MICAH
“For the transgression of Jacob is all of this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? It is not Samaria? And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem? Therefore I will make Samaria as a heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundation thereof. And all the graven images shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with fire, and all the idols I will lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of a harlot, and they shall return to the hire of a harlot. Therefore I will wail and howl, and will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning like the owls (Micah 1:5-8)”.

“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, ‘Come, and let us go up the to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Micah 4:1-3)”.

“And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as dew from the Lord, as showers upon the grass, that works not for man, not waits for the son of men (Micah 5:7)”.

“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves that are a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or of ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy, and the walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8)”.

 

JEREMIAH
“Behold the days are coming says the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; the covenant which they broke, although I have been a husband to them, says the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, says the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach not more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’: for they all shall know me, from the least unto the greatest, says the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34)”.

Jeremiah also wrote the Book of Lamentations, which contains his prophesies and cries on behalf of the city of Jerusalem during the time of its impending judgement in 586 BC.

 

EZEKIEL
Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord. This led to him seeing a glimpse of the people being resurrected (cf. Ezekiel chapter 37) and the River of Life flowing from the restored Temple of God (cf. Ezekiel 47:1-12).

 

MALACHI
“For behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yes, and all them that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But to you that fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings: and you shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they shall be as ashes under the soles of you feet in the day that I do this, says the Lord of hosts (Malachi 4: 1-2)”.

“Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, unless I come and smite the earth with a curse (Malachi 4:5-6)”.

 

JOHN THE BAPTIST
“In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’. For this was he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight…Then went out to him, Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized by him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them, ‘O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth fruit meet with repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham as our father: for I say to you, that God is able to make children of Abraham out of these stones. And now also, the ax is at the root of the trees; therefore every tree which does not bring forth fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water for repentance, but He that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the barn, and He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:1-12)”.

 

SIMEON
“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon: and he was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the Temple, and when the parents had brought in Jesus, to do for him the custom of the Law, then Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed him, and said, ‘Lord, let your servant now depart in peace, according to Your word. I have seen Your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all people: a light to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel…Behold, this child will cause the rising and falling of many in Israel; and a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yeah, a sword shall pierce through my own soul too), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2:25-35)”.

 

ANNA  
“And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity: and she was a wisdom for forty forty four years, and did not leave the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers, day and night. And she came in that instant and gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all of them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-28)”.

 

 

CONCLUSION

This study had begun as an idea to do a skit regarding the prophets. The point of the title, Disturbing The Peace, was to highlight the point that the prophets disturbed the status quo, especially in times when false prophets tried to keep the people content with a false peace. The prophets highlighted the true peace and hope that came from God, and continually called the people to live in line with that.

As I have grown in my understanding of Theology, the shape and purpose of the prophetic literature in the Bible has taken on much more meaning. Namely that the prophetic all mysteriously pointed to the New Covenant that would be made known through Jesus Christ, and the “hope of Israel”, as well as the “living hope”. As accounted by the Apostle Paul, the Gospel is the manifestation of the hope made known through the prophets (cf. Acts 24:14; 26:22) – nothing other than that will fit the “one hope” of Ephesians 4:4. Therefore, I have found it to be important in our continual growth into the Gospel to diligently study through the Prophets.

Prayerfully this study edified your own.

 

For His Glory,

Michael Miano
Pastor, Apologist, Author, & Director

 

 

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The Book of Virtues: A Book Review on Memorial Day

Many who know me have heard me press in on 2 Peter chapter 1 wherein we read a list of things we who are of the Body of Christ are called to possess and increase in. I have developed a system of sorts focused in on intentionally growing in those things. You can access the 2 Peter 1 “Growth Chart” at the following link, https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/2-peter-1-growth-chart/

Recently I marked out the desire to increase in virtue, and ended up, The Book of Virtues compiled by William J. Bennett. Mr. Bennett offers insights on and excerpts from various pieces of literature that he marked out as teachings of “moral literacy” and reinforcing “character formation”. Speaking to our contemporary societal situation, I agree with Mr. Bennett that, “Moorings and anchors come in handy in life, moral anchors and moorings have never been more necessary”.

Being that today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day that we have marked out to remember the courage of those who have fought and defended the freedoms we citizens enjoy, it is fitting to speak on virtues. Also, just last evening I sat in on a discussion at The Blue Point Bible Church that mentioned the need for increased and objective virtue and morality to be instilled in our education system. So, I am glad to offer up this review of the book and also help continue a necessary increase in the moral reasoning of our contemporary world.

Mr. Bennett marked out 10 virtues and provided various anecdotes to reinforce each on. Self-control, compassion, responsibility, friendship, work, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, and faith all in that that order are the 10 virtues marked out. As you may notice some of that virtues are also included in the list provided in 2 Peter chapter 1. Therefore, it is at this time that before you continue on reading I encourage you to begin to examine yourself and prayerfully ask the Lord to convict you wherein you might need to truly increase.

What I will dofor the remainder of this blog is detail insights shared throughout The Book of Virtues. If anything piques your interest, I encourage you to investigate it further. Nothing a simple Google search cannot help with.

  • Self – control

“Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty”. – William Bennett

Aesop’s fable, “The Flies and the Honey Pot” details not destroying ourselves for the sake of quick little pleasures. Read the fable here – https://fablesofaesop.com/the-flies-and-the-honey-pot.html

Surely reading through our nation’s first president, George Washington’s Rules of Civility in Conversations Among Men could infuse an interesting challenge in decency and morality in our contemporary society. Here is an reading through those details, https://managers.usc.edu/files/2015/05/George-Washingtons-Rules.pdf

 

  • Compassion

“What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” – George Elliot
Also written by George Elliot is the poem that challenges each of us so much that I recently mentioned it in a sermon. Count that Day Lost. Read here — https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/count-that-day-lost/

 

  • Responsibility

“There is no end to the good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit for it”.

I was impressed to find so many documents and resources that had to do with American principles and civil rights. Consider for example, the American’s Creed, written by William Tyler Page; “I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.”

Also consider looking into how the following mentioned writings and resources encourage you to a greater responsibility within our society; The Federalist Papers, Declaration of Independence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter from Birmingham Jail, Plato on responsibility, and Frederick Douglass’s “The Conscience of a Nation”.

Of course, each of us should be mindful of the often mentioned quote by Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. As well take note of what C.S. Lewis said in his writing “Men Without Chests”; “…if we fail to pass along specific standards of right and wrong, or what it worthwhile or worthless, admirable or ignoble, than we must share blame for the consequent failings of character”.

 

  • Friendship

Being fair and honest there wasn’t much mentioned in this chapter on this virtue that compelled me to take notes.

 

 

  • Courage

“We become brave by doing brave acts”. – Aristotle
“Courage is knowing what to fear”. – Plato

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, then to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much neither suffer much…” – Teddy Roosevelt

Surely the poem “Doors of Daring” by Henry can Dyke in sure to challenge us to be courageous and daring. Read the poem at the following link, https://www.poeticous.com/henry-van-dyke/doors-of-daring

 

  • Perseverance

Mr. Bennet mentioned the commonly cited phrase, “Just do the next right thing” as a method of reinforcing perseverance. Also, John Locke noted, “Fortitude (which is synonymous with perseverance) is the guard to every other virtue”.

 

  • Honesty

“Dishonesty would have no role to play in a world that revered reality and was inhabited by fully rational creates”.

“An honest man is the noblest work of God”. – Alexander Pope

 

  • Loyalty

I was of course encouraged to find the mention of Biblical stories the likes of Jonathan and David or Naomi and Ruth as detailing the virtue of loyalty. Amen!

Mr. Bennett also makes mention of historian and professor, Richard A. Gabriel and speaks of “ethical loyalty”. A Google search about Mr. Gabriel and ethical loyalty showed up to be insightful and I would encourage you in some free reading time to do the same. Mr. Gabriel as he speaks about war tactics and loyalty says, “In essence, to be an ethical soldier is to do one’s duty as to what is ethically right and to know why those ethics bind. Duty is not to be blindly tied to following orders”.

 

  • Faith

The obvious and blessed mention of “theological virtues” as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:13 includes faith, so we read, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”.

Mr. Bennet concluded thoughts on virtue with details about faith and faithfulness. He shared the Jewish tale of “The Honest Disciple”. Here is how it goes;

“A rabbi once asked his disciples, “What would you do if you found a money purse in the road?” Said the first, “I’d find the owner and return it.” Thought the rabbi, “His answer was in haste; does he really mean it?” Said the second disciple, “If no one saw me find it, I would keep it.” Thought the rabbi, “He is honest, but wicked-hearted.” Said the third disciple, after pondering, “I would be tempted to keep it. I would pray to God for the strength to resist temptation and perform a righteous action.” thought the rabbi, “Now there is a man I can trust!””

 

May God provide the wisdom as we continue possess and intentional increase in these virtues. May we continue to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ.

In and through Him,

Michael Miano

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#100SermonsChallenge

The number 100 is know both anciently and in contemporary culture as a number of abundance. It’s a number we use often to speak of having a bunch of something.

In James 1:5 we read that if we lack wisdom in any area that we should ask of God. It also says that God gives to us in abundance. Many who are familiar with my ministry and prayer life know this to be a verse I regularly cling to. I believe it! In Romans 12:11 we read that we are never to be lacking in zeal. So this led me to a thought about ways to put this into action. I have also spoken of “challenges” and exercises as a way to keep our Spiritual fervor. It takes diligent to keep the fervor God desires from us and I can personally attest to the power of maintaining Spiritual disciplines and “challenges”.

Proverbs 15:22 tells us about the success of one who has many advisors. Sermons from a variety of preachers can offer such wisdom we are seeking and provide a variety so we can “use discernment”.

As we move into 2018, I myself am seeking wisdom on vision (namely, because our annual meeting at The Blue Point Bible Church is at the end of January). However, I ask you to be honest and examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5). What are you seeking wisdom on?

Listen to 100 sermons from at least 5 different pastors on the topic you are seeking God’s wisdom. Take notes, use discernment and seek the voice of God. Prayerfully, you will share your #100SermonsChallenge notes on Facebook Notes or your personal blog. Please post your blogs on my Facebook page or send through email (ChristianityGoneWild@Yahoo.com).

On February 1st, 2018 – A participant in the #100SermonsChallenge will be chosen at random to receive a copy of Freaked Out by the New Covenant & Wicked. Two edifying books by me!

Blessings in Christ Jesus,
Pastor Michael Miano

MGW

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Notebook Review (1/2017 – 10/2017)

If you know me, you know full well my obsession with notetaking and compiling notebooks. I recently learned that Leonardo DiVinci was well-known for his voracious notetaking. I have experienced blessings from this form of note-taking in life and in my studies, especially since I have preserved my notebooks from 2005 forward.

 

In this blog, I just want to review and share some of the highlights in my notes from January 2017 to October 2017, as I just had to buy a new 5 subject notebook. Quite the variety of points here so prayerfully this all comes together well and is edifying to you. It’s been quite the year – blessed, challenging, and growth producing.

 

I began my year with the desire to grow in my knowledge of “Jewish things”, namely to develop more audience relevance and understanding to my reading of the Scriptures. I began well noting weekly parshat (torah readings) and haftorah (readings from the prophets). I must admit, my journey is this regard isn’t where I had planned, however as of Rosh Hoshana (last week of September 2017), I have begun reading weekly portions from a Jewish literacy book and taking notes, as well as have begun doing Chronicles of Josephus (a review of the man and his writings) on TFC Radio “On Demand”. You can listen at https://tfcradio.org/chronicles-of-josephus/

 

Consider what 4th century Church Father and writer Eusebius said about the words of Josephus, “If anyone compares the words of our Savior with the accounts of the historian Josephus concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Savior were truly Divine and marvelously strange”.

 
I began my year noting it would be challenging and busy, so reading through John Wesley biographies were a fitting read. I launched into various opportunities to work with the youth and began preparation for my Revelation Debate which I had in March 2017. I will share the link for that debate on YouTube below. However throughout this review, I will share some notes and resources for, during, and from that debate. Here is the link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvRrX_IW0zs

 
As I look through some preparation notes I had made I was going to study out the millennium as revealed in the Book of Revelation, as well as dating issues and the purpose of the letter. My work continued with The Power of Preterism Network, because of course, I believe Preterism is bringing reform into the Body of Christ, and because within the “Preterist Movement” there is the need for clarity, healing, and strategy. Throughout the year, I produced quite a few videos on YouTube fostering this things in Preterism. You can watch the variety of those videos on my YouTube at the following link, https://www.youtube.com/user/TheEMFellowship

 
Speaking of debates, it was good to hear Travis Finley of Rethinking Revelation call Sam Frost out on his mistruths and futurist nonsense. You can read my review and find a link for the podcast at the following link, https://powerofpreterism.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/sam-stop-talking-a-review-of-the-smackdown-on-rr/

 
Besides all the studies, my notebook is full of details about all the privileged opportunities I have had throughout the year to engage the community. I was invited to participate in The Whole Child Conference which was replete with information from professionals such as doctors and the deputy police commissioner who spoke about issues with our youth and the need for fortified families. Our church, The Blue Point Bible Church, once again participated in a great multi-congregation effort called Hope Day in Brentwood, New York. I also graduated from a program called Parent Leadership Network developing a youth program called XD Youth. Much of my work with the youth, and engaging the heroin epidemic we experience on Long Island with a variety of community groups and individuals can be summed up with a quote I heard at a recent meeting, “I just want to help humans have a better time being humans”.

 
As I think that quote through I realize that pretty much sums up my goal in studying theology, dare I say the “knowledge of God” as well. Man’s innate wickedness and idolatry keeps Him from worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth, which ultimately leads to eternally fulfilling and satisfying life. 16th century reformer, John Calvin, say it best, “Man’s mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own mind”.
That was my goal in publishing Wicked, which came out in July 2017. You can obtain a copy and engage the details of the book at the website below. Wicked Things Explained has become a source for a weekly Scripture exhortation from the brackets in the book, further helping the reading understand things such as the Kingdom of God, Satan, Angels, and Demons, and much more from a narrative Scriptural position.
In July I had the opportunity to have a public exchange with Mr. Ed Stevens of the International Preterist Association (www.preterist.org) at the Niagara Preterist Association. It’s not secret that Mr. Stevens and I disagree on the details of the doctrine, the resurrection of the dead. Videos and more from the conference will soon be made available and made public.

 
In the meantime, I have been responding to some local criticism of Full Preterism by doing videos on YouTube called “A Full Preterist Speaks Up & Speaks Out”. Also, at The Blue Point Bible Church we have begun a challenging series titled “#ThingsChristiansSay, which is engaging topics such as the Bible, Christian attitudes, relationships, societal roles, the end times, and other secret things of God made clear through Scripture. Listen to the podcasts on TFC Radio at 8am on Sunday mornings, or visit our podcast and choose the sermon you want to listen to (www.buzzsprout.com/11630)

 
I conclude these notes thanking God for Spirit that leads me to be diligent in these things. As well as the privilege to serve by way of sharing my studies and learned knowledge. I love what Tim Keller said, “Ministry is either going to make you a far better Christian or far worse a Christian than you would have been otherwise”.

 
To God be the Glory!
-Pastor Michael Miano

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Rendering You Neither Useless nor Unfruitful in the Knowledge of God – MAKE DISCIPLES!!

Rendering You Neither Useless nor Unfruitful in the Knowledge of God”

As of June 2015, I (Pastor Michael Miano) have begun leading a discipleship program that I have developed through years of learning from other discipleship programs. We are calling this “Immersed Discipleship”.

The name says it all. I am endeavoring to disciple others the way I myself was discipled- by being immersed into the knowledge of God. Keeping in mind the concept of ‘milk & meat’, I seek to bring together those who want to be discipled and show them with the ‘things of God’ -whether it be deep doctrinal stuff, life application, or challenging ourselves in regards to outreach and evangelism- the goal is to help those coming into the faith to be “neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8)”.

There is really no limit or boundary in regards to what we discuss at ‘Immersed Discipleship’. For example, last week in one of our classes, some of our discussion was based around the historical controversy of the Donatists. Here is an interesting article on those details for your studying pleasure:

http://gregsvoboda.com/2013/01/the-donatist-controversy-the-most-important-heresy-youve-never-heard-of/

Surely, as persecution of Christians continues, we can find some relevancy for ourselves in that historic conversation.

All of those details noted, a point that I made at our recent class was that 2,000 years after Christ first instructed His Apostles to preach the Gospel, we find ourselves sitting in a local church class room endeavoring to be His disciples. I regularly have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel and see people become interested in what Jesus offers.

*Keep on the ‘lookout’ for an upcoming video I will release, “The Fulfilled Gospel in 6 Minutes” on YouTube in days to come.

After we heed the Gospel (namely the truth of Matthew 7:24-29), we then should be seeking to “walk worthy of 2 Peter 1:8.

For the remainder of this blog, I want to share with you a couple of ways I believe discipleship should be worked out in your life. God willing, I will provide you with a basic knowledge of how you can apply 2 Peter 1 to your life.

Missiologist and Theologian, David Bosch noted “For the disciple of Jesus, the stage of discipleship is not the first step toward a promising career. It is itself the fulfillment of his or her destiny”.

As a disciple your priority should be to gather with other saints to exhort and encourage each other to be accountable in personal discipleship, as well be the ‘healing of the nations’ as a community. At the Blue Point Bible Church (which I pastor) we have the following ‘mission statement’:

The purpose of this church shall be to make disciples, that is to produce mature believers, by carrying out God’s objectives for His Church in the world, evangelizing the lost and edifying the people of God”.

I call this the COLLECTIVE part of your discipleship.

The “collective church community” should further serve to build you up as a member of the Body, essentially the ‘purpose’ and ‘unity’ of the faith as preached by the Apostle Paul brings us in this direction. If 2 Peter chapter 1 is not an exhortation enough (which we will be dealing with as we conclude this blog), then let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 12:1-0. Go ahead and read the text.

Reading through 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, not only do you get a glimpse of the Apostle Paul’s concerns, you also see that God’s strength is shown in our weaknesses. The goal of gathering “collectively” is for us to not only see, but come to realize it is not about us- it’s about Him. The “collective church community” should seek to exhort and encourage the believer through the knowledge of God, bringing about a “strength” that only comes from God, and could never be exemplified through man. Again remember, it’s all about His glory! That should be your INDIVIDUAL focus.

The work of the “collective church community” and the “individual” is to seek out, understand, and live in proper doctrine. Reading through the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy shows this very clearly. Go ahead and read through 1 Timothy chapters 2-4. Bad doctrine, or a messed up understanding of the things of God is compared to “dirty water” in Scripture. Who wants to drink “dirty water”? Worst yet, how does one feel after drinking “dirty water”?

In matters of discipleship we have noted that not only are ‘eschatological doctrines’ among many other areas in need of “study to show ourselves approved”, sadly even the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (or what we might refer to as the ‘practical applications’ of our faith are distorted as well. Some have referred to this as “The Crisis of the Sermon on the Mount”. A great article on that topic can be found here:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1995/july17/5t8038.html

As we contemplate the ‘true knowledge of God’, what should become clear beyond anything else is that without Christ, we will never “walk worthy” of the things of God. God offering covenant to us without Jesus is essentially “bad news”. We cannot and will not walk worthy- thus demonstrating the need for Jesus Christ. In these regards I enjoy this quote by Leo Tolstoy:

The test of observance of Christ’s teachings is our consciousness of our failure to attain to an ideal perfection. To the degree which we draw near, this perfection cannot be seen, all we see is the extent of our deviation”.

If you can come to that conclusion each and every time you study the doctrines of God, your DOCTRINAL understanding is in a healthy place.

That brings us to the final point, some may argue the most important- How to apply these things to my life? I have come to refer to this type of questioning as “diligent discipleship”.

I am fond of reading and learning from others, even to the extent that I recently accused myself of “following man”. However, praise-fully, I was rebuked by the Word. As the Apostle Paul himself admonishes the saints to be followers of him in 1 Corinthians 4:16 as well as in 11:1. Timothy was told in the letters to him to be mindful of who he received the faith from, and live like them.

Surely that brings together- collective, individual, doctrinal, and application discipleship. It must be done in community, it must be done diligently, and ultimately for the glory of God.

In our Wednesday Bible Study (just another way we walk worthy of our purpose at B.P.B.C.), we have been reviewing a series done by a man named Ray Vander Laan, and he details much of what I detailed in this blog- yet he refers to our lives in discipleship as “a well watered garden”. Author Vera Nazarian has noted, “The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte. “. I pray this blog has further exhorted you to become a ‘mater of the garden’ as it pertains to your discipleship.

In keeping with that line of thinking, here is a list of things to do in the Garden. Let’s start calling it our “Gardening List” (cf. 2 Peter 1)

  1. applying all diligence” – do this with a concentrated and constant effort
  2. in your faith supply moral excellence” – remembering that “faith” cannot be seen (Hebrews 11:1), the excellent morals we live by can be seen (read Philippians 2:1-11)
  3. add knowledge” – awareness, facts, information, and skill about the “things of God”
  4. add self-control” – ability to control one’s emotions, behavior, and desires in the face of external demands
  5. add perseverance” – be steadfast in what your doing despite possible trying circumstances
  6. add godliness” – Desire to bring glory to God
  7. add brotherly kindness” – do good to others, especially those of the household of faith
  8. love- love God with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength as well as love your neighbor as yourself – Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about his calling and choosing you: for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you (2 Peter 1:8-11)”.

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you (2 Peter 1:12)”.

In His Service,

Pastor Michael Miano

Blue Point Bible Church

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DANCING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS: Bonhoeffer Files

I have recently finished reading through Eric Metaxas biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and have preached an entire series to celebrate his birthday for the month of February. The podcasted sermons can be found at this link:

http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630 

I have said it again and again that I believe Dietrich Bonhoeffer to be an excellent example of a well-lived Christian life, therefore I am taking this opportunity to share what I have learned about him through this rather lengthy blog.

“…He grew up in a family that believed the essence of learning lay not in a formal education but in a deeply rooted obligation to be guardians of a great historical heritage”. – Eberhard Bethke

Imagine if Christians truly started to understanding “the essence of learning” in that manner. It is not about obtaining knowledge, but about living out the heritage and being “guardians” of the truth contained in the gospel, and what we as kingdom ambassadors know through Jesus Christ…. ahh just imagine. I believe we are living on the threshold of this realization in the Church. It’s high time we begin taking this seriously.

In was said that in Bonhoeffer’s family, “Each had his special trait, but common to them all was an idealistic streak, with a fearless readiness to act on their convictions”.

As G.K. Beale noted about Bonhoeffer:

“He was crystal clear in his convictions; and young as he was, and humble-minded as he was, he saw the truth, and spoke it with a complete absence of fear”.

Reading through Metaxas biography was enlightening to say the least. I have the opportunity to learn about Bonhoeffer’s family life, which clearly led to many of his convictions regarding truth. Bonhoeffer’s father was devoted to Empirical Science, which builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. It would be the contention of Bonhoeffer that: “The validity of Christianity lies within the realm of rational inquiry”. I am inclined to agree. Below are some links to help you understand an Empiricist way of looking at Christianity.

http://faculty.som.yale.edu/jameschoi/whychrist-empiric.html

http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2012/04/christianity-knowledge-and-empiricism/

Many who know me personally can attest to my contant plea for Christians to truly understand, teach, and preach a TRUE AND REASONABLE GOSPEL. As Bonhoeffer said:

“One must consider every possibility and avoid predisposing oneself to where it would all lead. During his lifetime, Bonhoeffer brought this critical and “scientific” attitude to all questions of faith and theology”.

In the Bonhoeffer home it was said that there was no place for “false piety” or “any kind of bogus religiousity”, and those are direct statements from his sister Sabine. The rising generation of Christians can surely find appreciation for that. We call that “being real”.

Bonhoeffer knew we must find God and not allow our presuppositions create an “idol god” of our own. As goes the cliche saying, “God created man in his image, and man returned the favor”. No instead as Bonhoeffer rightly notes:

If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately pleasing to my nature and which is not at all congenial to me”.

I totally love the fact that Bonhoeffer saw the need for theology to leak into the practical aspects of living as a Christian. Our understanding of God and His kingdom should place us in a sort of “holy rebellion” to this world. Dietrich Bonhoeffer would have called this a “religion-less Christianity” which compared and contrasted “cheap grace” and “costly grace”.

Again Bonhoeffer’s upbringing would have led him to understand this in this fashion because he was raised to not only live out his convictions but to also think before you speak, aswell as the self-deception of being led by emotions. Sadly, many who refer to themselves as “Christians” today, have adopted an emotional attraction to to a gospel they have made up.

For example, recently I was listening to a Christian rap song by Andy Mineo called “Where the Wild Things Are” and he quotes this:

“When I talk about Jesus, all the Christians love me. But if I try to walk like Jesus, all the Christians judge me”.

The “secularization of Christianity” (something Bonhoeffer continually spoke out against) had led many to create a sort of ‘moralistic deism” and call it Christianity. What I mean by “moralistic deism” is that Christianity is all about rules and regulations on how to live your life with a spinkle of belief in God. That IS NOT CHRISTIANITY.

“Christianity is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will. The essence of chastity is not the suppression of lust, but the total orientation of one’s life towards a goal. Without such a goal, chastity is bound to become ridiculous”. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This is so important because another aspect of Christianity that Bonhoeffer was so passionate about was the fact that it must be made real to the man in the street.

So Christian, I now ask you….. Are you walking worthy? Please take this admonishment and example given to us through the life of Christ seriously.

Even my asking you this question is in the fashion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who made the point that we need more Christians who are willing to do “suprise visits” and ask other brothers and sisters in the faith- “How goes it with your soul?”.

As Bonhoeffer was arrested he took his Bible with him. This reminded me of my recent agreement to “treat my Bible like my cellphone”. In other words just as I would make sure I have my cellphone on me at all times, I will do the same with my Bible- no matter where I go (anywhere I would naturally bring my cellphone).

FAST FACT: Did you know Martin Luther introduced the idea of Congregational singing?

Congregational singing had been halted since the close of the fourth century, when the church leaders decreed: “If laymen are not to interpret the Scriptures for themselves, so they are not to sing the songs of the church”. Martin Luther declared, “Let God speak directly to His people through the Scriptures, and let His people respond with grateful songs of praise”.

You can read more about this by visiting the following link:

http://ctl.cedarville.edu/musicology/wordpress/?p=62

“It wasn’t until 1920, when Dietrich turned fourteen, that he was ready to tell anyone he had decided to become a theologian”.

In Bonhoeffer’s time, much like the time we are living in, the Church seemed weak, oppressive, and more like a business than ‘the light of the world’, but when God calls men like Bonhoeffer, He leads them to say:

“In that case, I shall have to reform it”.

Bonhoeffer understood:

Revival of church life always brings in its train a richer understanding of the Scriptures”.

The real trouble is that the pure Word of Jesus has been overlaid with so much human ballast- burdensome rules and regulations, false hopes and consolations- that it has become extremely difficult to make a genuine decision for Christ”.

As a Christian, the health of the ‘body of Christ’ stays at the forefront of my mind, therefore I fully recieve this admonishment that Bonhoeffer gave to himself as my own:

Paul writes that he thinks of his congregation “without ceasing” in his prayers and yet at the same time he devoted himself completely to the task at hand. I must learn to do that. It will probably only come with prayer. God, grant me in the next few weeks clarity about my future and keep me in the communion of prayer with the brethren”.

It cannot be reiterated enough the need for us to ask ourselves, WHAT IS THE CHURCH? This is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer sought to explain in his writings, Sanctorum Communio & Act and Being. Both of which I look forward to reading myself fairly soon.

Due to the apathy that was alive and well in the church in Bonhoeffer’s time, he helped initiate the rise of what was called THE CONFESSING CHURCH. You can learn more of the details of that by visiting the following link:

https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/confessing-church

Bonhoeffer knew it was important that the Church was exhibited as “Christ existing as church-community”. He would go on to say,

“The body of Christ is the spiritual temple built out of living stones (1 Peter 2:5). Christ is its sole foundation and cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 3:11) but at the same time He is in His person the temple (Ephesians 2:21), in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, replenishing and sactifying the hearts of the faithful (1 Corinthians 3:10; 6:19). The Temple of God is the holy people in Jesus Christ. The body of Christ is the living temple of God and the new humanity”.

Since the ascension, Christ’s place on earth has been His body, the Church. The Church is the real presence of Christ. Once we have realized this truth we are well on the way to recovering an aspect of the Church’s being which has been sadly neglected in the past. We should think of the Church not as an institution but as a person, through of course a person in a unique sense”.

One student of Bonhoeffer’s noted that:

He pointed out that nowadays we often ask ourselves whether we still need the Church, whether we still need God. But this question, he said, is wrong. We are the ones who are questioned. The Church exists and God exists, and we are asked whether we are willing to be of service, for God needs us”.

The Church is called to stand with those who suffer”. We read in Galatians 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.

It is high time we broke with our theologically based restraint towards the state’s actions- which after all, is only fear. “Speak out for those who cannot speak”. Who in the church today realizes that this is the very least that the Bible requires of us”. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Here is how Bonhoeffer saw CHURCH REFORM:

“I think I am right in saying that I would only achieve true inner clarity and honesty by really starting to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously. Here alone lies the force that can blow all this idiocy sky-high- like fireworks, leaving only a few burnt-out shells behind. The restoration of the church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising discipleship, following Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount”.

In regard to living out the necessary reforms in the body of Christ, “he knew that to act freely could mean inadvertently doing wrong and incurring guilt. In fact, he felt that living this way meant that is was impossible to avoid incurring guilt, but if one wished to live responsibly and fully, one would be willing to do so”.

I call this “living lightly”. I seek to live out the teachings of Jesus Christ by conviction therefore ‘free from condemnation’, yet I just live, I don’t focus on not sinner. If indeed during my efforts to glorify God, I offend, then repentance is necessary.

Yet again in regards to CHURCH REFORM. Bonhoeffer would have it stated that one church could have differences with another church, but engage in dialogue for further mutual understanding. This is what we NEED in the body of Christ today. I am actually in the middle of writing up a letter/ document to give local leadership in my region to further stimulate mutual edification and understanding among churches in our area.

I plead with my brothers and sisters in the faith to begin the “leg work” of reform because ideas and beliefs are nothing if they do not relate to the world of reality outside of one’s own mind.

As I learn from Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a pastor, I desire to preach sermons that stimulate the congregation both Spiritually and intellectually. It’s said that His style as a lecturer was “very concentrated, quite unsentimental, almost disspassionate, clear as crystal, with a certain rational coldness, like a reporter”. It was this combination of an adamantine faith with a logician’s sparkling intellect that was so compelling”.

“A truly evangelical sermon must be like offering a child a fine red apple or offering a thirsty man a cool glass of water and then saying: Do you want it?”. -Bonhoeffer

It was Ruth von Kleist-Retzow who said the following statement about Bonhoeffer:

“When you saw him (Bonhoeffer) preaching you saw a young man who was entirely in God’s grasp”.

Bonhoeffer’s notice for the necessity of the Psalms being alive and well in the Church is interesting and an understanding I desire to come close to. Bonhoeffer said:

“The Psalter filled the life of early Christians. But more important than this is that Jesus died on the cross with words from the Psalms on His lips. Whenever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure is lost to the Christian church. With its recovery will come unexpected power”.

A prominent Preterist writer, David Chilton has noted:

There is a very important connection between the Church’s worldview and the Church’s hymns. If your heart and mouth are filled with songs of victory, you will tend to have an eschatology of dominion; if, instead, your songs are fearful, expressing a longing for escape-or if they are weak, childish ditties-your worldview and expectations will be escapist and childish. Historically, the basic hymnbook for the Church has been the Book of Psalms. The largest book of the Bible is the Book of Psalms, and God providentially placed it right in the middle of the Bible, so that we couldn’t miss it! Yet how many churches use the Psalms in musical worship? It is noteworthy that the Church’s abandonment of dominion eschatology coincided with the Church’s abandonment of the Psalms.”

WE MUST OFFER “INCARNATIONAL MINISTRY”.

The following link is a good “primer” on what exactly ‘incarnational ministry’ is:

http://www.releasetheape.com/two-blocks-to-incarnational-ministry/

It’s important that we recognize the truth in what Bonhoeffer has said:

“In Jesus Christ the reality of God has entered into the reality of this world”.

We are the ‘body’ of Christ in this world. We are His hands and feet. His work is done through us. When ‘the many’ want a physical form of Jesus- we offer them the Church. It is our duty to show the world what ‘life in Christ’ means. We are resurrecting the world to life in Christ.

When the Bible speaks of following Jesus, it is proclaiming a discipleship which will liberate mankind from all man-made dogmas, from every burden and oppression, from every anxiety and torture which afflicts the conscience. If they follow Jesus, men escape from the hard yoke of their own laws, and submit to the kindly yoke of Jesus Christ”.

“And if we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand? To answer this question we shall have to go to Him, for only He knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us to follow Him, knows the journeys end. But we do know it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy”.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3)”.

MEN’S GROUP

Recently, forming a sort of “men’s group” had been on my mind. The conviction of making this happen was enhanced when I read that Bonhoeffer led a discussion group of young men which covered many topics called The Thursday Circle.

I think a good platform has been created through The Good Men Project (goodmenproject.com).

It was no aimless gabfest, but a controlled, serious exploration of questions. It consisted of “pure, abstract theorizing, in the attempt to grasp a problem in its fullness”.

A good start would be learning from inspiring men that have blazed these trails before us. Men like Karl Barth who had a great take on “dead religion”.

How about Martin Niemoller who famously said: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out- because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out- because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out- because I was not a Jew. And then they came for me- and there was no one left to speak for me”.

Or Fabian von Schlabrendorff who wrote, ‘They Almost Killed Hitler’ & ‘I Knew Dietrich Bonhoeffer’.

I love the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer though. It was said that he lived a full-life. He continually attended operas, movies, concerts, art exhibits, plays, spent alot of time with friendsfamilycolleagues, and was constantly traveling. He had a complete disregard for idle nonsense that fills most of our days. Bonhoeffer knew the importance of meeting all kinda of people:

“…here I meet people as they are, far from the masquerade of ‘the Christian world”, people with passions, criminal types, small people with small aims, small wages, and small sins- all in all they are people who feel homeless in both senses, and who begin to thaw when one speaks to them with kindness- real people, I can only say that i have gained the impression that it is just these people who are much more under grace than under wrath, and that it is the Christian world which is more under wrath than grace”.

Again that reminds me of a quote by the Christian rapper, Andy Mineo when he said:

I’ve chosen this lifestyle, you ever met my friends? Porn stars, dope dealers, they like, “Why you chill with them? I thought you was a Christian?” Yeah I’m on that team, but I’m with them cause my life’s the only bible that they’ve ever seen”.

Convicting, isn’t it?

Eric Metaxas notes that “Bonhoeffer strove to see what God wanted to show and then to do what God asked in response. That was the obedient Christian life, the call of a disciple. And it came with a cost, which explained why so many were so afraid to open their eyes in the first place. It was the antithesis of the “cheap grace” that required nothing more than an easy mental assent, which he wrote about in the Cost of Discipleship”. One of Bonhoeffer’s students speaking about Bonhoeffer said that he was truly“a man who believes in what he thinks and does what he believes in”.

While Bonhoeffer surely advocated “death to self”, he did not shun “earthly pleasure”. Instead as Metaxas noted in his book, “the “desire for earthly bliss” is not something we steal from behind God’s back, but is something that He has desired that we should desire”. I think John Piper in regards to “Christian Hedonism” said it quite well:

“God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him”.

“The religion of Christ is not a tidbit after one’s bread, on the contrary, it is the bread or it is nothing. People should atleast understand and concede this if they call themselves Christian”.

Is it understandable yet why this man is such a great example to follow?

I am starting a new idea called 3rd Sunday lectures this month. My motivation comes from Bonhoeffer taking intitiative to give lectures at another time besides Sundays, which I believe is important.

Why? Well, let’s consider Bonhoeffer’s remarks about New York:

“In New York they preach about virtually everything, only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin, and forgiveness, death and life”

“There is no theology here…They become intoxicated with liberal and humanistic phrases, laugh at the fundamentalists, and yet are not even up to their level”.

They seemed to know what the answer was supposed to be and weren’t much concerned with how to get there. They knew only that whatever answer the fundamentalists came up with must be wrong”.

Even going as far as saying, “Tomorrow is Sunday. I wonder if I shall hear a sermon”. He noted that what he heard from the pulpit was a “very forced application of the text” and “too much analysis, too little gospel”.

All of that being said, it is high time we have plenty of the gospel being preached in New York, amen? As a pastor, I don’t believe I can “preach too much”, plus Ms. Vicki Chua, an amazing woman of God in my congregation recently brought up the idea and reading about Bonhoeffer doing so just convinced me that such an idea is “of God”.

I am also inspired to start an apprenticeship. This will be modeled after the illegal seminary that Bonhoeffer ran. Shh…it’s illegal 🙂

The first and foremost requirement will be to understand that “When Christ calls a man, He bids him- come and die”. We will foster understanding this by requiring that every student read ‘The Cost of Discipleship’.

Many Christians question their calling. My usual advice is to take a “five fold survey” as a beginning step. Bonhoeffer notes:

But how is the disciple to know what kind of cross is meant for him? He will find out as soon as he begins to follow his Lord and share his life”.

This is all demonstrated through“life together” .

‘Living together day by day produces a strong spirit of comradeship, of mutual readiness to help. The thousandfold “hullo” which sounds through the corridors of the hostel in the course of the day and which is not omitted even when someone is rushing past is not as meaningless as one might suppose…No one remains alone in the dormitory. The unreservedness of life together makes one person open to another, in the conflict between determination for truth with all of its consequences and the will for community, the latter prevails..”.

The entire education of the younger generation of theologians belongs today in church cloister-like schools, in which pure doctrine, the Sermon on the Mount and worship are taken seriously- as they never are (and in present circumstances couldn’t be) at the university”.

L.I.F.E. – Learning Institute of Fulfilled Eschatology/ Living In the Fulfilled Eschaton

I think I am right in saying that I would only achieve true inner clarity and honesty by really starting to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously. Here alone lies the force that can blow all this idiocy sky-high- like fireworks, leaving only a few burnt-out shells behind. The restoration of the church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising discipleship, following Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount”.

I had the opportunity of visiting Reba Place Fellowship located in Evanston, Ill. It was such a blessing to experience “intentional community” in that fashion, and I aspire to see it all the more in the future.

Here on the outer fringe of the Church was a place where the older vision was kept alive. Here men still remembered that grace costs, that grace means following Christ….Thus monasticism became a living protest against the secularization of Christianity and the cheapening of grace”.

I remember a while back reading through Church History and being in awe of the seeming structure that the ‘body of Christ’ had and wondered where it went. Through this understanding of a “new monasticism” I see a sort of structure returning to the body of Christ.

Confirmands today are like young soldiers marching to war, the war of Jesus Christ against the gods of this world. It is a war that demands the comittment of one’s whole life. Is not God, our Lord, worthy of this struggle? Idolatry and cowardice confront us on all sides, but the direst foe not confront us, he is within us. ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief”.

Theological work and real pastoral fellowship can only grow in a life which is governed by gathering around the Word morning and evening and by fixed times of prayer”.

Hey, that’s Bonhoeffer’s advice. Maybe, I need to more firmly advocate “fixed times of prayer”? There sure is power in knowing that your brother or sister is reading through Scripture and/or praying at the same time as you.

I have endeavored to create a daily routine that will be for me and any visiting guests. I will pretty much open my home for anyone who would want to experience a “life in fellowship” in this manner. This is modeled after the way Bonhoeffer’s community was organized:

Morning Prayer: “O God, early in the morning do I cry unto thee. Help me to pray, and to think only of thee. I cannot pray alone. In me there is darkness, but with thee there is light. I am lonely, but thou leavest me not. I am feeble in heart, but thou leavest me not. I am restless, but with thee there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with thee there is patience, thy ways are past understanding, but thou knowest the way for me”. – Bonhoeffer

-Forty-five minute service before breakfast, and ended with a service just before bed

Bonhoeffer requested us not to say a single word to each other before the (morning) service. The first word to come was supposed to be God’s Word”. – student, Albrecht Schoner

These services did not take place in a chapel, but instead each man gathered humbly around a dining room table.

Then came breakfast, which was very modest. Then came half an hour of meditation. Then everybody went to his room and thought about the Scripture until he knew what it meant for him today, on that day. During that time there had to be absolute quite…we were suppose to concentrate completely on whatever it was that God had to say to us”.

One meditated on the same verse for an entire week, a half hour each day.

Prayed the Psalms everyday

Confession to one another…Luther’s idea that Christians should confess to one another..

Afternoons set aside for recreation or whatever one might want to do.

After dinner and recreation, around 10pm, there was another service of 3/4 of an hour, “as the last note of a day with God. After that, silence and sleep. That was how the day went”.

SPEAKING ABOUT DEATH

As I was reading through Eric Metaxas book, I had the unfortunate circumstance of losing a friend. As I contemplated what the right things to think and say were I found these inspiring words of Bonhoeffer:

“Where God tears great gaps we should not try to fill them with human words. They should remain open”.

“Who can comprehend how those whom God takes so early are chosen? Does not the early death of Christians always appear to us as if God were plundering his own best instruments in a time in which they are most needed? Yet the Lord makes no mistakes. Might God need our brothers for some hidden service on our behalf in the heavenly world? We should put an end to our human thoughts, which always wish to know more than they can, and cling to that which is certain. Whomever God calls home is someone God loved. “For their souls were pleasing to the Lord, therefore He took them quickly from the midist of wickedness (Wisdom of Solomon 4)”.

After reading that last quote, I thought that Enoch and Elijah should immediately come to mind. John Bray wrote an awesome article about the “catching away” of these men of God, and I would encourage all to read it. Link:

http://www.worldwithoutend.info/wwe321wp/were-elijah-and-enoch-raptured-to-haven-evangelist-john-l-bray/

I have determined that I must watch the film “All Quiet on the Western Front”. It’s been said that “…it was the movie more than the book that would change Bonhoeffer’s life”.

The major issue in the Church during Bonhoeffer’s time is what I will call a “Misplaced Nationailism” On the Sunday before President’s Day, I preached a sermon in light of what Bonhoeffer would have taught about this topic. You can listen to that sermon by clicking on the following link:

http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/150930-misplaced-nationalism-bonhoeffer-series

The church has only one altar, the altar of the Almighty…before which all creatures must kneel. Whoever seeks something other than this must keep away, he cannot join us in the house of God…The church has only one pulpit, and from that pulpit, faith in God will be preached, and no other faith, and no other will than the will of God, however well intentioned”. – Bonhoeffer

This example from history should be a strong admonishment for Christians to “study to show thyself approved, rightly dividing the Word of Truth” or “Search the Scriptures”, since it clearly shows the danger of a false faith, a false assurance, and a false hope.

Lacking Biblical context, the German Christians – “preached Christianity as the polar opposite of Judaism, Jesus as the arch anti-Semite, and the cross as the symbol of the war against the Jews’.

In 1937, a group of them stated that the written word of Scripture was the problem. “Whereas the Jews were the first to write out their faith”, they said, “Jesus never did so”. They even forced an understanding that A demon always resides in the written word”.

Astonishing, isn’t it? How can one completely ignore what the Bible says yet still pass that off a Christianity? Sadly because many ‘Christians’ are content not knowing anything about Scripture or having any contextual understanding. I am so glad that there is a rising tide happening within Christian scholarship regarding understanding the Jewish context of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.

Now that this has turned into a short novel, I want to end with some strong admonshments regarding living the Christian life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s sister once said this to him, “You Christians are glad when someone else does what you know must be done but it seems that somehow you are unwilling to get your own hands dirty and do it”.

I can only imagine the dilemma that was ever present for men and women of God during the Third Reich. I am sure glad that “a major theme for Bonhoeffer was that every Christian must be “fully human” by bringing God into his whole life, not merely into some “spiritual” realm. To be an ethereal figure who merely talked who merely talked about God, but somehow refused to get his hands dirty in the real world in which God had placed him, was bad theology”.

Bonhoeffer knew it was required that he as a Christian- suffer faithfully”. It is fitting to quote that, “A human being’s moral integrity begins when he is prepared to sacrifice his life for his convictions”.

I am bewildered by the humbling fact that Bonhoeffer was brought to safety in the United States and then left because he stated:

“I shall have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people”.

Wow. I can only hope I would have courage like that is any given situation.

“Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to be obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God- the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God”.

“That requires faith, and may God grant it to us daily. I don’t mean faith that flees the world, but the faith that endures in the world and loves and remains true to that world in spite of all the hardships it brings us….I fear the Christians who venture to stand on earth on only one leg will stand in heaven on only one leg too”. -Bonhoeffer

Eric Metaxas notes that “the Christian life as something active, not reactive. It had nothing to do with avoiding sin or with merely talking or teaching or believing theological notions or principles or rules or tenets. It has everything to do with living one’s whole life in obedience to God’s call through action. It did not merely require a mind, but a body too. It was God’s call to be fully human, to live as human beings obedient to the One who had made us, which was the fulfillment of our destiny. It was not a cramped, compromised, circumspect life, but a life lived in a kind of wild, joyful, full-throated freedom- what is what it was to obey God”.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a living monument of that life described above- lived out!

It was said that Bonhoeffer never tired of repeating that the only fight which is lost is that which we give up. This is because he knew that God is not interested in success, but obedience. If one is willing to obey God and willing to suffer defeat and whatever else may come one’s way, God will show a kind of success that the world cannot imagine. But this is the narrow path, and few consider taking it.

Will you walk worthy?

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

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The Pastor: His Qualifications and Duties ( A REVIEW)

               I just finished reading this book which is basically a compilation of the writings done by 19th century Baptist pastor Hezekiah Harvey. I thought it was interesting as a 21st century pastor to look at the historical view of the role of pastor. I took some notes that intrigued me and wanted to share with those who are in the pastorate, are considering it, and those who might help to hold me accountable.

In dealing with the call to serve as pastor, it is of vital importance that the “call to the pulpit” is a there. In the book it was noted that the man called to the pulpit must “feel that he ought to engage in it, and that he cannot do otherwise without guilt”.

“A pastor’s utmost wisdom and discrimination should be employed in inspiring and guiding young men to right thinking in regard to their life-mission”.

                The above quote was an awesome encouragement considering that is what I feel called to do. Lead men and women to find their calling in Christ- this is true DISCIPLESHIP and ultimately is the way we bring “healing to the nations” and help men and women live ‘life to the full’.

                The Freaked Out Movement, which I direct is dedicated to this very cause- helping men and women find their identity in Christ by understanding what burdens and inspires them.

“The modern pulpit, from its neglect of the Bible,  is singularly narrow, exhibiting little of the vast wealth and variety of divine truth. It leaves by far the larger part of the Bible a concealed book. It’s types,, it’s poetry, its prophecies, its parables, its presentations,, as in the epistle to the Romans , of the truths of the gospel in their connection as one grand, comprehensive system of salvation- how little of all this wealth of Scripture is presented in the pulpit”.

                We are in dire need of a REframation dealing with the comprehensive story of Scripture!

“The absence of knowledge even of the fundamental principles of the Christian religion, on the part of many who are hurried into the church, is one of the alarming features of our times.

The lack of Biblical clarity and Biblical literacy is prevalent among so many within the church. “Growing the grace and knowledge of God” of 2 Peter chapter 1 is so important, and instead of making converts who can recite a “sinner’s prayer” we must begin to make disciples who know and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, as well as explain them in a true and reasonable way.

                As I have grown in my understanding of ‘redemptive history’, I have at times put aside the memorial understanding of the Lord’s Supper. I think Mr. Harvey explains the importance of this quite well:

                “Rightly administered, the Lord’s Supper is one of the mightiest forces God has given to inspire and purify the heart and elevate the life of the church”.

                “The care of the souls is the radical idea of the pastor’s office”. This is something I have begun to internalize and keep at the forefront of my work in ministry. Not the afterlife, but the souls in this life- life to the full.

I appreciated the insight of Dr. Cuyler:

                “Young brethren, aim from the start to be thorough pastors. During the week go to those whom you expect to come to you on the Lord’s Day. In the morning of each day study books; in the afternoon study door-plates and human nature. Your people will give you material for your best practical sermons. After an effective Sunday work go around among your flock, as Napoleon rode over the field after a battle- to see where the shot struck and who were among the wounded”.

Dr. Taylor issued the following admonishment:

                “You will make a great mistake if you undervalue the visitation of your people. The pulpit is your throne, no doubt; but then a throne is stable as it rests on the affections of the people, and to get their affections you must visit them in their dwelling”.

Getting back into the writings of Mr. Harvey, he begins to drive home what the life of ministry for a pastor should look like.

“Men differ in their characteristics and modes of working, and each pastor will ordinarily succeed best with his own model”.

                I believe it to be so vitally important for a pastor to know his “hedgehog concept” so to speak. He must know what style he is utilizing for his ministry, what he is most passionate about, and where his focus needs be.

“Above all, the pastor must remember the injunction, “Instant in season, out of season”. He should make the most of opportunities. In the store, the office, and the shop, on the farm, the roadside, and the car- everywhere he is to seek to lead men to Christ”.

                In our day we call this MISSIONAL! A natural outpouring of the Christian Spirit making the fruits of the Spirit not religious, but authentic. “In a minister’s life the danger is he may degenerate into mere professionalism.

“To make the social life of the church strong, healthful, enriching, such as to render it a magnet to attract other souls, is of primary moment in a pastor’s work”.

                I couldn’t have said it any better myself, the only issue we face today is the “attractional model” of ‘doing church’ which seeks to make things fun and hip rather than focusing on teaching and helping foster an understanding of the contextual Biblical gospel. Utilizing Deuteronomy 4:6 helps in these regards.

                Two main ways Mr. Harvey speaks about doing this are “personal effort to promote mutual acquaintances in the congregation by introducing strangers” and “social gatherings in the church”.

“One chief function of a pastor is to develop and utilize the spiritual, mental, and social forces of the church”.

“The minister is, in this respect, a general whom troops are entrusted; his work is to train and organize and lead”.

One of things we believe strongly in our church is being a “congregational led” church. This helps foster the understanding of “the priesthood of Believers” which encourages us all as disciples of Christ to play a role. “Indeed, one of the strongest bonds which bind a church together is the consciousness of being mutual workers, each having a post of duty and a share of responsibility”.

                “A pastor should carefully study his people with the view of ascertaining and utilizing their special aptitudes and gifts”- This my friends is The Freaked Out Movement and should be for all Christian organizations the focus of Discipleship!

“A pastor who will constantly act on the motto, A PLACE AND A WORK FOR EVERY MEMBER, and will press this motto on those who conduct the different departments of wok in his church, will soon find himself at the head of an active, living, and ordinarily happy people, while yet his is not personally overburdened with the details of church-work”.

                Many people within the Church trivialize the importance of being well educated in matters of the gospel and well as other areas- sociology, psychology, various religions and apologetics, among Biblical literacy. “Intellect is a gift of God: it is criminal to leave it undeveloped”.

“It seems to me one of the highest duties of a pastor to foster in such minds a desire and purpose for an education, and to facilitate in every possible way the attainment of that end”.

“A failure to develop his people intellectually is a discredit to any minister”.

“Cultivation of the Missionary Spirit” has got to be my favorite title of a part in Mr. Harvey’s writings, I love the eloquent way he explains the need for the church to be missional:

                 “The importance of a deep, all-pervading missionary spirit in the church can hardly be overrated”.

“To develop and foster a missionary spirit in the church requires, as a first necessity, the presence of such a spirit in the pastor himself”.

                I know men like Alan Hirsch and Shane Claiborne would love to read that quote and say a big “Amen” for the need of church leadership to step outside the church building!

                As I finished the book I took special mention and many quotes from the boom regarding the “Pastoral Study” and the “Life” of a pastor.

“The pastor’s business is to deal with the human mind and the actual experiences of men; he should therefore, go through the world with his eyes and ears open, thoroughly studying men and life around him”.

                That is the missional mindset a pastor must have! Be in the places to hear about the ills of the world, offer insight when necessary, and utilize the things you might hear at “the bar” for the necessary sermons that must be preached!

                Always have a book in hand and consecrate each past of the day for systematic study- awesome thins I have already had in practice!

                Focusing on the ‘cares of the world’ can be the downfall of any man of God, as Mr. Harvey illustrates:

                “Many  a man circumscribes his own intellectual growth and pulpit power, making himself permanently a narrower and weaker man, by allowing these outside cares to destroy his process of mental discipline and growth. Here nothing will overcome but a profound conviction that study- persistent, regular, life-long study- is the solemn first duty of every man who ventures to stand up in the pulpit as an instructor of the people…the most imperative duty of him who teaches others it to teach himself”.

                Hezekiah Harvey also offers various writings to read and areas such as philosophy that should enter into the pastor’s study time to time. Mr. Harvey also holds the pastor in a high regard that he himself should be a model of the things of which he teaches his congregation. I personally believe it is vital that every pastor sit down and create a short list of things he belives to be most important in the Christian life. I would personally write- understanding the contextual gospel (being able to teach it and defend it), being missional, moderation and not religiousity, and the desire to “heal the nations” by way of the gospel.

                At the end of the book, Mr. Harvey includes a quote from the Pilgrim’s Progress which I believe would make a great motto for the Christian pastor:

                “he, had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon his lips, the world was behind his back; he stood as if he pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hand over his head”.

The pastor must have the view of his ministry as “a solemn duty he owes his God, his people, and himself, or he will fail”.

                I hope these quotes and notes may inspire you.

Blessings in Christ,

    Pastor Michael Miano

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