Are You A Tourist Or An Explorer?

There is a basic difference between and a tourist and an explorer. Tourism is usually recreational and leisurely. A tourist stops only to observe personal or highly publicized points of interest. An explorer, on the other hand, takes his time to search out all find out all that he can. Many people read the Bible like a tourist and then wonder why their lives are not as fruitful as they’d like them to be. It is crucial that we take time to study the Word of God. The Bible contains nooks and crannies that are chocked filled with life altering truths and power for living. Explore it. Get beneath the surface. Study. Here are a couple of tips:

CONCENTRATION

This may seem obvious, but when studying, you must focus. Center your mind on what you’re trying to accomplish and don’t let anything distract you. This applies to other things as well. That’s why Jesus says to pray in your closet. How many things will distract you if you’re in a closet with the door shut?

REPETITION

Repetition is a proven way of learning. Repeating something creates ingrained habits of thought. Faith comes by continual hearing. That’s why TV advertising is so effective. The repetition of the ads gets inside your head. It is the same with Bible study. The repetition of God’s Word will help to train your brain. When you study, after you read the passage, read it again. And again.

REFLECTION

When we reflect on God’s Word we begin to see its significance. We begin to see the passage from God’s perspective. We also begin to consider how it relates to us right where we are emotionally, spiritually, physically and socially.

Don’t just read the Word. Study the Word. Disney World is for tourists. God’s Word is for explorers.

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Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde & Captain Kirk

In 1886 author Robert Lewis Stevenson penned the classic “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”  You’ll remember that Dr. Jekyll possessed (or was possessed by) two opposite personalities- one good and one not so good. If we came across the doc today we would probably diagnose him as having D.I.D. (Dissociative Identity Disorder)

In one of my favorite Star Trek episodes a transporter mishap divides Captain James T. Kirk into two versions of himself, one evil and one good. But it’s not just the fictional characters of television, movies and literature who can display a split personality. Even us born again, fire baptized, faith walkin’ folks can present with DID symptoms. If you said “Amen” to that, don’t fret, you’re in good company.

In Romans 7 the Apostle Paul speaks of a situation that rivals the works of Stevenson and Roddenberry:

“But I discern in my bodily members [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh]. O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death?”

I don’t know about you, but I just got a chill!

But again, don’t fret. Paul goes on to say, “O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!

Before his conversion Paul persecuted the church with a passion. Speaking about himself in 2 Corinthians he says, “We have wronged no man.”

If a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether. New life in Christ and victory over sin isn’t some Hollywoodscript; it’s the promise of God’s Word. Take hold of it. It’s yours for the asking.

By the way, for those who didn’t know, Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek, and Captain Kirk’s middle name is “Tiberius.”

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Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

1 Chronicles 12:32

New King James Version (NKJV)

 “… of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command…”

One of my favorite bands of the 70’s was a group named Chicago. Their debut album in 1969 contained the song “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It is.” It went something like this:

As I was walking down the street one day

A man came up to me and asked me

what the time was that was on my watch,

And I said,

“Does anybody really know what time it is?

Does anybody really care?

If so I can’t imagine why

We’ve all got time enough to cry….”

The Scripture which opened this post mentions the “sons of Issachar.” These men were among the warriors who met David at Hebron in order to turn over Saul’s kingdom to him “… according to the word of the Lord.” They supported Saul up until the right time and at the right time they gave their support to David. These men were not only stout of heart they were wise. They knew based on God’s word what needed to be done and when it needed to be done.

God has likewise provided us with direction and a plan of action for the times in which we live. The question for us as believers is the question Chicago asked in 1969: Does anybody really know what time it is?

As I’m getting older, and prayerfully progressing in spiritual maturity, my perspective on life continues to change. What is important to God? Am I on point and on God’s timetable for accomplishing His plan for my life? Can it be said of me as it was said of these great men of Issachar that I have the knowledge of what God’s Word to the church is for this hour?

Chicago may have made some good music, but they were no men of Issachar. Are you?

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Backyard Religion

Let’s talk about religion.

The word “religion” brings with it the idea of “ceremony” For example, “She exercises religiously.”

Everyone has some religion in their lives. We all have some stack of beliefs and principles that we live by. The question is: Where did we get them?

Let’s look at religion.

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6

When there is no ultimate authority and order everyone does as he thinks is right.
What happens? I call “Backyard Religion.”

Our story starts in: Judges 17

1 Now there was a man from the mountains of Ephraim, whose name was Micah.2 And he said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you, and on which you put a curse, even saying it in my ears–here is the silver with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “May you be blessed by the LORD, my son!”

Backyard Religion doesn’t put sin in its proper place.

Micah’s confession, came about only because he was afraid of the curse. Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow are two different things.

17: 3 So when he had returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, “I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a molded image; now therefore, I will return it to you.”

She says that she had “wholly dedicated the silver” to the Lord. How can you do something for the Lord that He has said not to do? The worship of images or anything other than the true God is idolatry.

Don’t take that which is to be given to God (i.e. your time, your money, your life, etc.) and use it someplace else.

Backyard Religion is not worship in spirit and in truth.

17:4 Thus he returned the silver to his mother. Then his mother took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to the silversmith, and he made it into a carved image and a molded image; and they were in the house of Micah. 5 The man Micah had a shrine, and he consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.

Backyard Religion is superficial, it substitutes replicas for the real thing, and makes God into the image we want Him to be. It looks okay on the outside, but it’s phony. Micah’s son was a bogus priest. He was not born of the Tribe of Levi, where the priesthood was ordained by God.

Never operate outside of your anointing and calling.

Look what happens next:

17:7 Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah; he was a Levite, and was staying there.8 The man departed from the city of Bethlehem in Judah to stay wherever he could find a place. Then he came to the mountains of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, as he journeyed. 9And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” So he said to him, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am on my way to find a place to stay.”

A Levite comes through town. Micah knew his priest was bogus. Now here comes the real thing. Many folks buy a less expensive car that ‘looks like” a luxury vehicle. But when the real thing parks beside it, you can see the difference.

Guess what? He may be the real thing, but his ministry is bogus. Another Danger: Operating in our gift outside of the place God intended.

17:10 Micah said to him, “Dwell with me, and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten shekels of silver per year, a suit of clothes, and your sustenance.” So the Levite went in.

The ministry is not for sale, and there should be no price tag attached to it!

17:13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!”

Backyard Religion gives us a false sense of security

18:1 In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for itself to dwell in; for until that day their inheritance among the tribes of Israel had not fallen to them. 2 So the children of Dan sent five men of their family from their territory, men of valor from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and search it. They said to them, “Go, search the land.” So they went to the mountains of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there.

Here we have a group of folks who are not willing to wait on God for the promised blessing.

18:3-6 While they were at the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. They turned aside and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What do you have here?”4 He said to them, “Thus and so Micah did for me. He has hired me, and I have become his priest.”5 So they said to him, “Please inquire of God, that we may know whether the journey on which we go will be prosperous.” 6 And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The presence of the LORD be with you on your way.”

Folks on an ungodly mission, meet up with an ungodly priest, and wonder if the Lord will bless them… Birds of a feather flock together. Folks that ain’t right attract other folks that ain’t right. It’s the blind leading the blind.

18:22 When they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house gathered together and overtook the children of Dan. 23 And they called out to the children of Dan. So they turned around and said to Micah, “What ails you, that you have gathered such a company?”
24 So he said, “You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and you have gone away. Now what more do I have? How can you say to me, `What ails you?'”

Micah has to try and rescue his god, when if fact his god should be rescuing him.

You know you’re in bad shape when the thing you’ve been depending on to see you through fails. If your job is your God, what you gonna do when you get laid off? If money is your God, what you gonna do when you’re broke?

Backyard religion… Let us not be guilty of practicing backyard religion, but true religion

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Only what God thinks counts!

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The Right Reverend Pastor Apostle Dr. Bishop Elder King

At the assembly where I am currently providing under-shepherding ministry, the folks refer to me as “Pastor Sam.” I’ve had several conversations with friends who don’t think the use of the title is supported by Scripture.  They say that “pastor” is a description of what a person does, not a title. I won’t open that discussion in this post (unless you want to) but a video which has recently been circulating has prompted me to put pen to paper- or more accurately, keyboard to computer.

In a coronation service of much pomp and pageantry a troubled pastor has been elevated to the position of “king.” I am purposely not using names beacuse it’s not necessary for these observations. During the ceremony he is set in a chair, lifted by four men (representing the four corners of the earth according to the participants) and paraded around the pulpit area. It was quite a scene.

My first thought was that when the Bible refers to believers as “kings and priests”, this wasn’t what God was talking about. My second thought was about our preoccupation with titles.

I never liked the title “reverend.” Personally, I think I’ll leave the reverence for God alone. I understand the use of the term pastor as used in our churches today. In some cases it helps folks avoid the sin of familiarity when dealing with those whom God has chosen to lead them. But again, I also understand those who feel that all of these titles are moot.

Bottom line for me? I don’t want to be hung up on what people call me. What is more important is how God sees me. This I know: when we lift God and not man, God will draw men to Himself- not to us.

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I Don’t Like Labels

Let me explain. Some labels are good and necessary. When I go to the grocery store I read the labels to check things like calories, sodium content and so on. I appreciate those labels. When I want to mail a letter I attach an address label so that the communiqué gets to the intended recipient. I also attach a return address label so that in case of a snafu the dispatch will get back to me. I like those labels too. Here’s the kind I don’t like: the kind that is designed to pigeon hole people… the kind that uses a broad brush that unfairly generalizes… the kind that misleads and therefore misinforms.

There are a number of phrases that when uttered stir the emotions of many Christians. Use the words “prosperity” and “gospel” in the same sentence and you’ll hear things like “Name it and claim it”, “Call it and haul it”, “Blab it and grab it.” Truth is, the the Apostle John prayed that the believers in a group of churches near Ephesus would “.. prosper even as your soul prospers.” So why then this repulsion to the thought of prosperity and the gospel working hand in hand? Labels. That’s why I don’t like them.

Here’s another one: “The word of faith.” Utter those words and many Christian folk see visions of shark-skin suited, slick talking shysters dancing in their heads like the sugarplum fairies ofMoore’s classic T’was the night before Christmas. Truth is, in Romans 10 the Apostle Paul declares that the gospel he preached was the Word of Faith. So why then this disdain? Labels. That’s why I don’t like them.

When some unbelievers use the term “Christians”, trust me, they’re not trying to flatter us. They’re generalizing. There have been some who have identified themselves as Christians and have not actually experienced the salvation He offers. We who believe don’t stop calling ourselves Christians because of it.

When some people use the term “Black people”, trust me again, it isn’t meant as a compliment. They too are generalizing. We have a lot in common, but all Black people aren’t the same. We do not however refrain from identifying ourselves as Black people just because some have a distorted view and use the term merely as a label.

My Christian brother and sisters, let us not label something that the Bible clearly teaches as truth. Though some may preach a word of faith that is not congruent with the Scriptures, let’s show the world what the word of faith is really all about instead of using it as label. Let’s show them that prosperity isn’t a curse word. Let’s show them what true prosperity is all about.

Like Paul, I preach and teach the word of faith. It is confession and belief: confession of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and a heart-belief in His resurrection, resulting in the salvation of the soul, this again according to Romans 10: 8-10. It’s not just a label. Labels. I don’t like labels.

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Welcome to my world.

One of my earliest remembrances is of going to Sunday School. That’s me on the right. We lived in South Philly. A church in Fort Washington ran a small mission in our neighborhood. It later became the church where I grew up and cut my spiritual teeth. It was a Biblically sound assembly and I got a good foundation there. The pastor was a great teacher and had a passion for evangelism.

After I got married my wife and I stayed there for several years after which we were members of a Full Gospel assembly in the Mount Airy section of Philly. It was there that I learned how to unleash the power of God in my life and began to operate in my calling as a pastor/teacher. Now I am an associate pastor at an assembly in Lansdale, PA. I am thankful for the path upon which God has guided me and for the perspective that past gives me regarding His Holy Word.

Why “The Biblical Matrix?” Glad you asked. A matrix is “a surrounding substance within which something else originates, developes, or is contained.” It is my belief that the word of God is the matrix, the indespensable source from which all truth is established. Thanks for stopping by. Do it again.

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