High Honors (ATP)  

Question: The Bible tells us we are to take care of and honor our parents, but how far does this go? Do we care for them daily or provide for them daily? Should they be involved in our everyday lives? Live with us? Does this mean we take care of them like they did us as children? 

Exodus 20:12 (NASB)

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

This seems like a loaded question in that there was a specific reason behind its asking. The question shouldn’t be how far does it go but what is meant by honor? Basically, the word for honor in Hebrew means to make heavy or weighty. I think you could see it like this, the thing that is honored is not easily cast off, that it is of a great importance in the heart and mind of the one who is to have it. 

Honor is something that is severely lacking in our society today and especially amongst the youth. People act so wishy washy about things, changing their minds quickly. Honor is not just a thing you have for certain people, honor is a heart issue. Honor is a way of life, a way of thinking and acting. To a Christian, honor should be of utmost importance. This is because honor is really a love issue.

So let’s look at parents, how far does honor go? What could similarly be asked is how far does love go? This question is very difficult to answer in that there’s so much left out. Are the parents saved? Are they living for God? Are they abusive? Are they causing division? See, in all of these things there are different approaches. The heart behind what God was requiring of His people is to not think lightly in handling your parents. Because we owe our very lives to them, we must consider them in our lives and hold them in high esteem.  

To answer the various questions asked I have one blanket answer, what would love do? Do they need a place to stay, what would love do? Do they need daily care, what would love do? You see, when we answer what to do in our personal interactions with what would love do, we always start on the right foot. We must also think soberly about our situation. Let me give you a scenario.  Let’s say your parents can’t pay their rent. They come to you for help but let’s pretend you can barely pay yours. Honor doesn’t mean you don’t pay your rent to pay theirs. Honor means that they matter to you. Maybe you try to help in ways you are able or maybe you help them find help. You can only do what you can do.

What God requires of us isn’t that hard when we look at it right. We are called to be different than the world is, to be conformed into His image. What would Jesus do? When it comes to God’s direction we should never be looking to just do enough to fulfill some religious rule, rather we should desire to be right in knowledge and action. Only when we desire to be right can we be pleasing to Him. Don’t ask how far do I go, ask am I doing what You want me to do Lord? Then you can have faith that you’ve acted honorably.

2 Corinthians 8:21 (NASB)

For we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff

So Many Doctrines, So Little Time (ATP)  

QUESTION: Does Family Church believe in replacement theology (basically, God has replaced Israel with His Church)?

What does Family Church believe? There’s a lot of ways to answer this and even though it’s not specifically the question asked I decided before I got there, I’d start here, and for a good reason. I can sum up Family Church beliefs in one word, Bible.

Now I know that’s a loaded statement. Every Christian church claims this but really this is it for us too. We do our best to follow the Bible with a focus on the doctrines that are clearly established. That being said, individual Family Church pastors are entitled to seek God on their own and focus their churches based on how God leads them. So to answer this question, I cannot say what Family Church’s position on it is but what my position is. I’ll be honest, before this question came I didn’t think about “replacement theology” as a way of thinking. That does not mean that I didn’t think about it in essence, just not as a specific doctrine. 

I’m going to start by answering with scripture how I feel about some aspects of replacement theology I’ve seen in my brief research. 

Has the church replaced Israel in God’s plan? Romans 2:29 says, “But he is a Jew who is one inwardly…” Now this is interesting but consider this, Romans 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them (Israel) is for their salvation.” Let’s look at two more scriptures, Romans 11:11-12, “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their (Israel’s) transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!” Basically what these scriptures show us is this, Israel’s rejection became our blessing but Paul’s desire and ours too should be that they come to a knowledge of truth. So they weren’t as much replaced here as we were added in. 

Now, there is another part of the theology that needs looked at, do the promises to Israel apply to the church? Galatians 3:7-9 says, “Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.” Galatians 3:14 says, “In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” I think that the Bible clearly teaches that we are blessed with their blessing.

I believe that there is still a type of blessing for Israel, simply because God doesn’t lie and God doesn’t change. Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Was not Israel called to be Gods people? Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” God didn’t remove all blessing from them just because He added us in. However, that being said, all humans can do things to be separated from the promises of God. So it’s not that God changed but if anyone separates from Him, He has no choice but to let them go.

It seems to me that in scripture there is also provision for God to use the Jews in the last days. That Israel will return to Him and be used for His purpose. That does not mean however that they will not still have to choose it. They will have to choose right and to follow God but I believe that the blinders (John 12:40) that have been put on them will be removed.

Now I want to end this with a few thoughts. 1) I did not do a full in depth study on this subject and I am always open to further light based on scripture. 2) I don’t currently think that an in depth study of this would be particularly fruitful. As a pastor, my primary focus and the Church’s primary need is to be equipped for the work of the ministry of spreading the Gospel. Whether it be to Jews, atheists, gentiles, black, white, or any color in between, people first need to know that Jesus died and paid for their sin so they could get to God. After that, their focus needs to be on living in Godly direction to reach more people. I’m not saying that other biblical topics are unimportant, I’m saying what’s most important is the need at hand. 

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

To Cut Ties or Not To Cut Ties: That Is The Question (ATP)

QUESTION: Recently, we had a party and invited church family and regular family. My regular family told me they were not coming because they feel like outcasts because we have more to talk about with our church family. I don’t know how to feel about this because a part of me is at peace keeping my distance as there are deeper issues, yet I’m asking myself how is this a good representation of Jesus, how does He feel about walking away from “family” …Basically, I’m more concerned with disappointing Jesus with this situation.

This is such a great question and I’m guessing this is something many others have had to deal with, including myself to some regard.

Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” In context, this is speaking of a believer’s relationship with unbelievers. There’s a lot to consider here, but let’s focus on two things. First, your goal should always be peace. Peace is something Jesus paid for! But secondly, notice the “if it is possible” part. This means you do your part to be peaceful from your end, but we CANNOT control what others do.

Let’s keep reading in this same passage of scripture. Look at Romans 12:19-21, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Ok this is strong language when we’re talking about family members not wanting to come to birthday parties, but if we understand the principle behind this, it will answer the situation at hand.

First, never take your own revenge. What does that look like? “Well, they wouldn’t come to my kid’s party so I won’t go to there kid’s party.” That’s revenge. “They stopped calling me to say happy birthday so I stopped calling them.” “They talk bad about me so I can talk bad about them.” These are all statements from someone looking for revenge. But the Lord says let Him handle that part. Now look at your job instead, it’s to overcome evil with good and if your enemy is hungry, hurting, or needy and you can help, you help. Now don’t be tripped up by that word “enemy”. It simply means “a hostile one.” Remember unbelievers will often act hostile against the truth, for the god of this world has blinded them and they cannot see truth for what it is.

Now look at 1 Peter 3:16, “… keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” Give your family no reason and no real ammunition against you. Stay on the side of love and stay on the side of peace, never stooping to the same level. That’s what the Word says about it.

Now, let’s address this disappointing Jesus part of your question. Look at Mark 10:29-30, “Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” When we are born again, we are born into a new family of brothers and sisters in Christ. When we see that our life isn’t just about living for us but for a greater purpose focused around Jesus, it’s really hard not to let that direct your conversation, your fellowship. (In fact any Christian who doesn’t yearn for godly conversation and spiritual fellowship with other believers is possibly backslidden or at least complacent.) It seems that the Lord knew we may have to walk away from others, even natural family members, that wouldn’t want to follow Him with us. He’s not disappointed by that, as long as we aren’t divisive or living in strife. Look at Proverbs 26:20-21 (AMP),
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention ceases.
As coals are to hot embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man to inflame strife.” Your job is to live your life towards Jesus and as you do so people will come and go, but you must not add wood to the fire of contention. Eventually, the fire will go out. I could tell you story after story where that has happened in my own life as I’ve taken this very same path.

Be Blessed,
Pastor Renée

Gettin’ Things Done! (ATP)  

Question: In Joshua 2:2-24 is the account of Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute that helps Israelite spies escape Jericho. I have noticed for myself when stepping out, following God’s leading into something, that the least likely candidates are helping, almost unknowingly assisting in His plan. Those who I even thought likely to be opposition. Are there any other accounts in the Bible like this? Can and should we be expecting God to move on the hearts of unbelievers, the unlikely candidates even the opposition to assist us in what God is leading us in, calling us to?

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NASB)

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.

“Can and should we be expecting God to move on the hearts of unbelievers, the unlikely candidates even the opposition, to assist us in what God is leading us in, calling us to?” We should absolutely be expecting God to move, and leave it right there. I have found too many times as I have tried to figure out which way God would work or in what method He would utilize to get something done, that He rarely takes my suggestions! I am always surprised.

I am convinced that the Lord will use just about anyone willing to accomplish His plan, whether they know it or not. Now, so we understand, God is not forcing anyone to do anything, only the devil does that. But the Lord knows who will listen and what they will listen to, and He will work within that willingness.

In the Old Testament we see God use a donkey to correct Balaam. He used Pharaoh to fulfill His plan, the daughter of Pharaoh to rescue Moses, and in Isaiah He used people “of a strange tongue” to bring judgement on His people just to name a few. He used nonbelievers to help Joseph rise to prominence in yet another example. In short, God will use anyone who is willing if it fits what He wants to do.

So with this knowledge, let me ask a question. What does this say to believers? If God is willing to use those who have no covenant and will even bless them for listening, how much more should His children expect to be used? And furthermore, knowing He will use even an unbeliever for His plan, if we are in His plan we can have more surety that He will come through for us in ways we can’t possibly imagine!

The faithful child of God can rest knowing that for any issue that could possibly arise, God has methods and ways we could never possibly know to accomplish what He wants to do. If we are part of what God wants to do them we can not just embrace, but rejoice in the fact that our Father gets things done. Whether believers, non-believers, animals or inanimate objects such as rocks, God is always more than able! What a mighty God we serve!

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

Heavenly Visitations (ATP) 

QUESTION: It seems that times in the word of faith “camp” or various charismatics circles, the ministers have been called up to heaven, visited by Jesus Himself, have grand visions etc. I have a few questions concerning this: 1. Why are no other pastors having these experiences ? 2. Are many of these fabricated, exaggerated, or misrepresented or do you believe they’re truthful experiences? 3. How can you sort out who is telling the truth and who is misrepresenting – all while keeping your own heart soft and not jaded… or judgemental 

This is a great question and in some way I have been studying on this a lot lately and I believe I can speak about it. The first thing we need to ask is, are these legitimate or not? I believe that supernatural experiences can and should be something Christian’s have. However it will look different for each person. That said, let’s get to your questions.

First, why aren’t other pastors having these experiences? To this I want to say a few things. It’s not just for pastors or ministers to have experience, so what we need to ask is why aren’t more people in general? For legitimate experiences I believe with all my heart that God visits people on a few criteria. We must understand that it is only by His will. 1 Corinthians 12:11 (NASB) says, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. Experience with God can only happen on His terms, we can never make it happen. 

Another side of this is something I also believe with all my heart, is that God will not visit people who are not open to spiritual things. Hebrews 11:6 (NASB) says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a REWARDER OF THOSE who seek Him.” He rewards the hungry, not the critical. People who are closed minded, like people in some denominations that outright reject spiritual experiences, will likely never have them. Remember Jesus said not to cast pearls before swine? That is not as much an insult as it is the idea that those who will only reject or take lightly spiritual things are not worthy of them. 1 Thessalonians 5:20 warns believers not to despise prophecy, or think lightly of it. If we despise it, we will likely not be blessed with it.

Secondly, as whether these experiences are true or not, I’d say maybe. Early on in my walk I had been burned in some overly experiential churches. As a result, I wanted little to do with any kind of charismatic church. When I came to Family Church, I had no idea of the beliefs. I loved how they put the Word first and I learned so much. As I started learning about spiritual things I got more and more intrigued. I remember having a hard time with the laying on of hands. Then one day the Lord helped me with this. 

He encouraged me to look at my pastor. See, after being there for five years, I had learned in that time that I could trust my pastor in these things. I finally said, if he embraces it, knowing he is sincere and knowledgeable giving himself to the Word, then I can too. I did and life has never been the same. I said all that to say this, learn who to trust and trust them in what you can trust them in. Have I ever seen things different than my pastor? Certainly! However, I know his character and there are things I don’t even need to question because of that. I don’t listen to everyone who has experience, but I do with those who have proven character. Even if they aren’t a minister! 

Now onto the third question, how do you know who’s legit without being judgy (my rephrase)? I’m going to say something that may shock you. You better be judgy! Notice I didn’t say critical. There’s a difference. A scripture that has changed my life is 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NASB). “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” Read that a few times and recall it every time something doesn’t sit right with you! God has not given us a brain to forget it and a conscience to ignore it! Remember, God said renew your mind, not throw it out. If something doesn’t sit right with you start asking questions. First of yourself, then of others you trust. 

Ask yourself, am I being overly critical or is my concern legitimate? If you truly don’t believe you’re being critical ask the Lord to help you and stay humble (willing to be wrong). Ask people you trust and don’t stop asking until you find peace. I have this policy. If I ask people (like my leaders) a question about something and they can’t or won’t answer it, I have validation for not being settled. However, I make it my absolute goal to be honorable and humble in what and how I ask. I’m always open to being wrong. In fact, I usually go to that first. 

I have found something very interesting. If I am concerned about something, usually there are others that have had the same concern. I can’t tell you how many times I have taken a concern about something spiritual to my pastor and he has seen the same issue. That speaks volumes. Any organization that won’t allow or dodges questions is a cult. Some groups can be cult like without being a full blown cult. That’s still wrong.

In the New Testament we are told to follow two things. We follow the Truth, that is God’s Word. Secondly, we follow the Spirit, working through our conscience as it aligns with God’s word. Going to Heaven and other experiences may happen but it is my doubt that someone does this all the time. You don’t need intense experiences to be spiritual, you simply need to follow His Spirit. Where He leads will always bear fruit! 

By the way, there’s so many great discussions that could and should be had from this Faith Fix. Not based on what I said, but based on the content itself.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

The Answer Of The Tongue (ATP) 

Proverbs 1:1 says the plans of the heart belong to man but the answer of the tongue from the Lord. What does it mean that the answer of the tongue is from the Lord?

We have to remember while reading Proverbs that it’s wisdom scripture. Often what you’ll see is wisdom and guidance for a true godly life. Look at the very beginning of the book:

Proverbs 1:1-3

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,

To discern the sayings of understanding,

To receive instruction in wise behavior,

Righteousness, justice and equity;

With this, we can understand that the intent of this book was for us to receive instructions in living wisely, with godly wisdom. Try to keep this in mind while reading in this book of the Bible. 

Proverbs 16:1

The plans of the heart belong to man,

But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.

If you look at the whole of this passage of scripture you’ll see that it is comparing and contrasting those who are upright and those who are not. For instance, you’ll see a few verses later that man planning his own path is contrasted with the Lord ordering his steps.  We could also compare Proverbs 16:1 with Proverbs 19:21, which says, “Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand.” 

Let’s look at Proverbs 16:1-2 in the Amplified Bible, “The plans of the mind and orderly thinking belong to man, but from the Lord comes the [wise] answer of the tongue. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits (the thoughts and intents of the heart).” Now, hopefully just seeing the scripture illuminated more here we can already start to gain clearer understanding. 

You see, man (mankind) has a tendency to plan and plan and plan and never seek whether or not it’s God’s plan or their own. Notice that in this Amplified version the word heart has been exchanged for the word mind. This means that man comes up with plans in their mind, but the real answer or we could say the wise answer is from the Lord. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6? “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Look also at Psalms 25:8, “Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.” How about Proverbs 14:12?

“There is a way which seems right to a man,

But its end is the way of death.” 

From the Lord’s tongue comes the wise answer to our lives. God’s way is the only way that truly works. The answer is the answer of His tongue. 

Be Blessed,

Pastor Renée