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3

The Power of His Resurrection

Philippians 3:7-11(NKJV) - But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

As I prepare to preach this Resurrection Sunday at The Body Church, I've been mulling the significance of this scripture. In our current sermon series, Vision 2018, we've come to the part where we're dealing with "The Power of God" and the role it plays in our personal and corporate church growth. I don't consider it a coincidence that what God wants to say to us this Easter Sunday is directly in line with what He's already saying to us in this sermon series. So today, I'll introduce Sunday's message in this blog.

Apostle Paul's primary desire was to know Jesus Christ. He put that desire above everything else in his life including his personal accomplishments and self-generated righteousness. He then elaborated on the specific aspects of Christ that interested him the most. He wanted to know Christ in two main ways; the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Why? So that the same victory Jesus Christ attained over death would also be his portion. In other words, through Christ's resurrection, he would receive his own resurrection.

At first glance, it seems quite simple. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, so that those of us who were once dead because of sin, can receive life through Him. That life manifests itself through instant spiritual renewal at the point of salvation. It is then followed up by physical resurrection on The Last Day (not before) when Jesus returns to earth. For those who die before that day, the resurrection is literal. Yet, for those who are still alive, their natural bodies which are subject to death and are already in the process of dying will be changed to immortal, glorified bodies similar to the one Jesus received. It also means that those who are in Christ will not experience eternal death which is separation from God. Yet, there's more.

John 11:1-7, 11-15, 20-27(NKJV) - Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, “He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” ... These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house... Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

After Lazarus died, Mary and Martha were distraught. First, they were devastated by the loss of their beloved brother. However, what made it worse was that Jesus knew Lazarus was sick, had the power to do something about it and never showed up until after Lazarus was dead. Interestingly enough, Jesus revealed to His disciples that He did that on purpose. It was actually Jesus' intention to let Lazarus die first so that He could raise Lazarus from death (sleep) and glorify God through it. As demonstrated in their conversation, Martha exposed the outer limits of her faith in the power of Jesus. First, she believed that Jesus had the power to heal so if Jesus had arrived on time Lazarus would have been saved. Then, she believed in The Resurrection at The Last Day. At that point, all believers would rise again so even though Lazarus was dead He would live again eventually.

The only thing she didn't believe was God's power to do anything for someone after physical death and before The Resurrection. In other words, she didn't fully understand The Power of His Resurrection. So, to teach her and the rest of us a valuable lesson about His true power, Jesus orchestrated the perfect demonstration. His main goal was to redefine The Resurrection as a person (Himself) and not an event that takes place on The Last Day alone. Hence, wherever He was present, so was His supreme power over death. He also used the opportunity to explain that belief alone gives anyone access to His power. Those who believe in Him as The Resurrection and die before The Resurrection will live again and those who believe and are alive will not die.

Obviously, we can apply His statement to The Last Day when we are assured that The Resurrection of all believers will take place. Yet, Jesus was clear that He was not just talking about The Last Day but He was talking about any time before then. He then proved it by raising Lazarus from the dead after three days and subsequently raising Himself (Jesus is God) from the dead after three days. Let me reiterate something you may have missed. Those who believe in Him as The Resurrection are able to tap into the Power of His Resurrection. Why do I say that? Whether we know it or not, belief in The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is crucial to our salvation. It's even included in the main scripture we quote for salvation.

Romans 10:9-10(NKJV) - that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and “believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

To become a Christian you don't just believe in Jesus as a prophet, a Rabbi, a miracle worker, teacher or an overall good guy. You can't even simply believe that Jesus was born and died for your sins. You have to believe in His Resurrection. In other words, you have to believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead to be saved. No Resurrection, no salvation! It's that simple. Essentially, The Power of His Resurrection is the power that gives us salvation. Since Jesus is The Resurrection, when you believe in Jesus you believe in His Resurrection from death on the cross and also your Resurrection from death on The Last Day. What you should also believe is that His Resurrection has the power to affect your life between those two events. In fact, because you believe in Jesus Christ, The Power of His Resurrection is active and alive in you now the same way it was available for Lazarus to defeat death before Jesus even died on The Cross!

1 Corinthians 15:12-19(NKJV) - Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Our salvation is all about The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's because He lives, that we can live again. It's because He lives that we can face death with hope of life everlasting. It's because He lives that sin has been defeated forever. So, as we commemorate the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ this weekend, let us remember how important this is to our existence as Christians. The good news of the gospel does not end with Jesus dying for our sins but continues with Him rising from the dead to totally defeat it. Not only did He pay the price for our sins but by rising from the dead He defeated the power of sin. He had His cake and ate it too. He paid for sin with His death, then rose from the dead and took His life back once the debt was paid. We should be clear about what that means for us on The Last Day. Now let's talk about what that means for us right now.

Romans 8:9-11(NKJV) - But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

The Spirit of Christ lives in us which means The Resurrection lives in us. Yes, our physical bodies are subject to death but the life-giving power of His Spirit lives in our physical bodies right now. Hence, all of the power we need to rise from the dead on The Last Day is already inside of us. It's the same power which raised Christ from the dead. It's also the same power which raised Lazarus from the dead. It's the power of The Holy Ghost and The Power of His Resurrection. What can we do with this power? Possibly, anything. We just have to believe. And what do we have to believe? Whatever we see in His Word that applies to us.

Mark 9:23(NKJV) - Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

Mark 16:15-18(NKJV) - And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Luke 10:18-20(NKJV) - And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Like Martha said to Jesus in John 11, every Christian believes that we will defeat death on The Last Day and rise again in The Resurrection. However, what do you believe God can do for you today? What are the outer limits of possibility in your life? If you can believe, all things are possible for you. You can defeat demons, serpents, poison, sickness, criminals, accidents, disasters or any other agent of death on earth today. You just need to have the faith! How does faith come? By hearing and hearing by The Word of God. Saturate your mind and heart with God's Word until you believe what's written in it. Then everything you believe will become possible in your life.

What's the extent of The Power of His Resurrection in your life? Whatever you believe in His Word!

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Ranking The Miracles of Jesus

When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” Matthew 17:24‭-‬27 NKJV

This is a sneak peek from the new book; "The Fish With The Gold In Its Mouth" is a continuation from yesterday's blog entitled, "The Fish With The Gold In Its Mouth (Sneak Peek)".

How many times have you heard teachings like that in your local church? How many books did you read about it? If you’re anything like me, not many I would assume. Yet, it was a sermon many years ago from my father, Apostle Emanuel Vivian Duncan, entitled, "The Fish With The Gold in Its Mouth" which first piqued my interest.

Growing up listening to my father preach shaped my perspective toward The Bible. I was always fascinated by his penchant for unearthing deep, life changing revelation out of seemingly innocuous scriptures. Like everything else Jesus said, this miraculous story is loaded with life changing principles with eternal significance. Nevertheless, before we go much further let’s put this in context.

Throughout the New Testament we read about the exploits of Jesus. In Matthew 4:23-25, He healed every sick person out of a multitude regardless of the nature of their diseases. In Mark 6:33-44 He multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand men in addition to women and children. In Matthew 8:5-10, He healed the centurion's servant with a word. A few verses later, He simply touched the hand of Peter's mother in law and she was instantly healed.

Again, in Matthew 15:32-35 He multiplied seven loaves and a few fish to feed another four thousand men in addition to women and children. In John 11, He raised Lazarus to life after he was dead for at least three days. These are just a few random examples which illustrate the caliber of miracles Jesus performed while He walked the earth.

Hence, in the grand scheme of things it is understandable why this account in Matthew 17:24-27 of Jesus directing Peter to catch a fish with money in its mouth to pay taxes doesn't get that much attention. Think about it. If the Academy Awards had a category for the miracles of Jesus this one would not even get nominated. It's just not on the same level in terms of dramatic effect. If measured only by the number of lives impacted perhaps feeding the five thousand would win the award. Or if measured by the level of impossibility, bringing Lazarus back to life would be the winner.

To be continued...

Do you want to write a book? Many people do, but very few are able to get it done for various reasons. Let that not be your story. Learn tips and tricks for effectively putting your thoughts on paper in a cohesive, continuous manner. Work with a group of other writers who share the same goal.

Join our club at Coffee Shop Conversations. We'll be working together on our books this year. Bring your ideas, share it with the group and let's help each other write our books. Say goodbye to writer's block. If you're stuck, we'll help with ideas to move the book forward. Once the books are complete, we'll learn how to get our books published for free. You just saw a sneak peek of the book I'm working on during Coffee Shop Conversations.

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Decatur Community Workshops: Single Parents

This video provides highlights from our recent workshop "Single Parents - How To Set The Atmosphere In Your Home". This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops and Singles Point of View. It was hosted at The Body Church, 3009 Rainbow Drive, Suite #142, Decatur, GA 30034.

Our faith-based group hosts monthly workshops in the Decatur area that are free, interactive and open to the surrounding community. Topics include leadership, personal finances, investing, professional networking, career advancement, real estate, grant writing and many more. We are open to suggestions and are always interested in welcoming new people. If you love to learn new things especially for free, this group is for you.

For more info, visit www.meetup.com/decaturcommunityworkshops

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Understanding The End Times - The Islamic Antichrist

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In this session we answer questions about heaven and the resurrection.

For more information visit our website at www.thebodychurchinc.org

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Prayer: Why We Pray In The Name of Jesus

Every time we pray, we pray in the name (authority) of Jesus. In other words, we don’t expect God to answer our prayer because of who we are or what we’ve done to deserve the answer. If that was the case, we would pray in our own names. We expect The Father to answer our prayers because of who Jesus is and what He did on the cross. That’s why we only pray in the name of Jesus.

Date - October 2nd, 2016

The Body Church

3015 Rainbow Dr,

Suite #142,

Building #3009,

Decatur, GA 30034

**Located in Building 3009 in South DeKalb Office Park, 3015 Rainbow Drive, Decatur, GA 30034**

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays - 9:00 AM

www.TheBodyChurchInc.org

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Understanding The End Times - Q&A

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In this session we answer questions about heaven and the resurrection.

For more information visit our website at www.thebodychurchinc.org

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July 27, 2016 Posted by admin in Prayer

Observer, Commentator or Intercessor?

Observer, Commentator or Intercessor?

Ezekiel 33:1-6(NKJV) - Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’

This is the second of a series of blogs birthed out of a Word from The Lord we received over the weekend when we were given a simple instruction, "Prophesy again!" The first blog was published a few days ago. If you haven't taken the time to read, "Misdirection and Distraction - Effective Tools of Deception in the Last Days" do so now. There are things you will read in there that you probably won't find anywhere else.

Furthermore, something quite unusual happened when we published the blog. Within a short period of time our website disappeared and a strange landing page showed up to replace it. For a moment, we had no idea what was going on. Thank God for putting some great people in our lives. It took the expert help of a great friend and his team to undo whatever was done to hijack the site.

We thank them for getting us back up and running properly by the next day. So again let me put it this way, it's important for you to read that article. There's a reason why we went through so much trouble just so you could have access to it.

Nonetheless, let's get to what really matters. Things are changing in the world around us in many crucial areas. There is considerable angst in the US concerning the upcoming Presidential election in November and with good reason. The rise of terrorist attacks on innocent people around the globe has put considerable fear in people's hearts. The global economy seems to be recovering but in disproportionate ways. We know something's going on that we cannot understand but there's a sense of hopelessness and helplessness when we consider our options.

With that being said, The Lord asked me the following question in the midst of a conversation with my wife; "Will you be an observer, commentator or intercessor?" Observers see what's going on and are completely satisfied with simply seeing it. They pride themselves in being "in the know" and feel good about their awareness. Yet, that's the full extent of their involvement.

Commentators however, take it one step further. They see what's going on and speak up. They post their opinions on the issues to their social media accounts. They talk to their friends and families. When they see something they say something to those around them.

Yet, intercessors are the ultimate respondents. When they are privy to important information they get actively involved in changing the circumstances. They don't want to just be informed. They also have no pleasure in simply talking about situations as they unfold. They don't only want people around them to be impressed by their informed perspective but they do something meaningful about what they know. They get in the middle of the situation with the express intention of seeing change. Here's a perfect example.

Genesis 18:16-33(NLT) - Then the men got up from their meal and looked out toward Sodom. As they left, Abraham went with them to send them on their way. 17 “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked. 18 “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. 19 I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.” 20 So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. 21 I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know.” 22 The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham. 23 Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? 24 Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? 25 Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” 26 And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.” 27 Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.” 29 Then Abraham pressed his request further. “Suppose there are only forty?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the forty.” 30 “Please don’t be angry, my Lord,” Abraham pleaded. “Let me speak—suppose only thirty righteous people are found?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it if I find thirty.” 31 Then Abraham said, “Since I have dared to speak to the Lord, let me continue—suppose there are only twenty?” And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.” 32 Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?” And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.” 33 When the Lord had finished his conversation with Abraham, he went on his way, and Abraham returned to his tent.

God just couldn't keep Abraham out of the loop because of the depth of their relationship. God thought about it first then chose to reveal to Abraham His intentions to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. If Abraham was just an observer He would have taken the information from The Lord and went back to his tent to continue his personal business. If he was just a commentator he would have taken the information back to his wife and let her know what was going on. They may have discussed it at length and felt sorry for Lot and his family. However, that would have been the extent of their involvement.

However, Abraham was an intercessor and his response remains the blueprint for intercession. He didn't waste any time with the information. As soon as Abraham knew of God's intentions he got to work interceding. In fact, he probably could be credited for the salvation of Lot and his family while the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.

To put it simply, that's the example we all need to follow. When The Lord allows us to be privy to important information, instead of ruminating on it or talking about it, we need to intercede. For example, when you are shown dreams and visions about things that are coming, always pray because that's one big reason why God opened your spiritual eyes in the first place. Also, if you see something in the spirit you don't want to happen in the future, make your request for a different outcome known to The Lord.

Philippians 4:6-7(AMP) - Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].

The Word of The Lord in Philippians 4:6-7 is that our most important response in every circumstance and situation is prayer. It's when we pray that we involve God in our situations and position ourselves for Him to respond with a miracle in our favor. So instead of fear and panic we can have the peace of God which goes beyond our natural ability to understand. In other words, God expects us to pray even when we totally understand the reality of a bad situation and our understanding should result in a natural response of anxiety. If we would just pray specific prayers and thank God for who He is, what He's done and what He will do, He will respond with supernatural peace to replace our natural panic.

Christians are called to be intercessors. When we see the news and don't like what we see we can't simply be passive observers or even commentators. By simply seeing things, we don't change them. By simply talking about things, we don't change them. By simply worrying about things, we don't change them either. Our most effective and primary response has to be prayer. Our human strength is limited so we can't depend on it to make things happen but God's strength is unlimited and when we pray, that's whose strength becomes available to us.

James 5:16-18(NLT) - Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

Are you an observer, commentator or intercessor? Observers look, commentators talk but intercessors pray. It's time to make prayer a priority again. It really works.
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Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 7 - The Buck Stops With The Pastor

Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 7 - The Buck Stops With The Pastor

Two years ago, my wife, Angel and I put our pride, reputation and comfortable lives on the line to answer the call of God to start The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. In this blog series we highlight the top twelve lessons we learned and are still learning along the journey. For the full list of all twelve points, click the following link, "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned".

Today, we highlight the seventh point; "7) If you don't take personal responsibility for the success of your ministry, do not expect anyone else to do so.

For the previous point click the following link; "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 6 - People's Giving Reveals Their Hearts"

Luke 12:42-48(NLT) - And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful. “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

Leadership is more about responsibility than it is about authority. On the most basic level, when people assign a leader to a task they make that person ultimately responsible for getting it done. When things go well, good leaders are rewarded but are still expected to share the glory with everyone else involved who helped them make it happen. On the other hand, when things go wrong, leaders are expected to take the blame for themselves. Good leaders know that they don't get to pass blame on to their team without implicating themselves. Even when it's not really their fault they can't throw other people under the bus to save themselves. This is even more pronounced when it comes to spiritual things.

The leader of The Church is Jesus Christ which makes Him ultimately responsible for His people. However, pastors are low to mid-level managers given the responsibility by Jesus to lead other servants in the local church. When things go right at a church assembly, first and foremost God gets all the glory. Once God gets the glory, everyone else who serves in the ministry deserves appreciation for the part they've played including the pastor. We should all understand that.

Running a church successfully takes a team of dedicated, selfless individuals whose hearts are submitted to The Will of The Lord. However, when things go wrong in the church, blame is not shared equally. Those who are in positions of leadership, especially the pastors are judged more strictly. People don't look around at each other when things are falling apart, they look up to the leader to do something. Not just that, if that leader is a mid-level manager like pastors are in The Body of Christ, upper management, namely Jesus Christ is looking down to that leader to take responsibility for his/ her assignment.

James 3:1(NLT) - Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.

I remember our first year as youth pastors. We planned our first youth conference at the church within a couple months and laid out the schedule for the entire team in advance. Everyone was excited. The first session took place on a Friday night. We arrived early, rehearsed all the roles and responsibilities with the team then anticipated smooth sailing through the weekend's proceedings. At 7:00 PM sharp the Friday night proceedings began. We promptly took our seats in the front and looked forward to enjoying the service with everyone else. At least, that's what we thought.

It didn't take long for things to start going wrong. I can hardly remember exactly what happened but I do remember how it felt. We just wanted to sink into our seats and pretend we were not involved. Then from across the room we could feel the eyes of our pastors. People were looking at them and they were looking at us. I remember that look because I saw it before. It's the same look my parents gave me when I had done something wrong. If a picture says a thousand words, that look said one million.

I looked at Angel, she looked at me and we both knew what we had to do. Get up and get to work. That day we learned a valuable lesson. We can't be in charge of a church department then expect to sit down and enjoy an event our department is putting on. We have to take up residence in the back of the church and quarterback the event to success. As the leaders we must take personal responsibility for our department's success. If that means running wild behind the scenes to ensure everything looks smooth to the public so be it. That's our job!

Hebrews 13:17(NLT) - Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

This scripture is one of the main reasons why I was initially hesitant to become the pastor of a local church. Our job is to watch over the souls of the people God has assigned to us. Hence, God holds us accountable. That's why it hurts when members of our churches lose their way and walk outside of The Will of God. It's not just their problem. It's our problem. That's one reason why we pray for our members early in the morning each weekday. It's also why we don't just sing random songs for worship, preach random messages or carry out random initiatives at the church.

Everything we do at the church has a purpose. That's to ensure that the people assigned to us are successful in every area of their lives with special emphasis on the prosperity of their souls. So when people fail we feel like we fail. I remember dealing with a situation recently at my father's church where a lady at the church had lost her husband to senseless violence. As a fellow believer, I was so frustrated at seeing the pain on her face and feeling essentially powerless.

What happened to the angels who are supposed to lift us up lest we dash our foot against a stone? (Psalm 91) Why wasn't his life redeemed from destruction? (Psalm 103) Why didn't it work? The truth is that we don't know and I guess that's where the frustration came from. Pastors are supposed to have the answers. Yet, situations arise that we cannot explain. Hence, when we don't have the answers what are we supposed to say? Nothing! If people look to us and we have no idea what to do, we join them and look to God because He alone as the ultimate leader of The Church always knows what to do. In those instances we must remind ourselves and The Church that our ultimate leader will always be Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:28(NLT) - Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.

We thank God for Apostle Paul's honesty. As a man, it's hard enough to be responsible for your family. As a pastor, it's hard enough to be responsible for your local church. Yet, he was an Apostle over more churches than any of us and successfully navigated the challenges. Every Epistle was a letter to a particular church or group of churches in a region. In each letter, he addressed the issues in that church including answering the difficult questions that were posed to him. He had to hear from God to create updated spiritual guidelines which were not already clearly outlined in the scriptures.

There was no television. There was no Internet. There was no radio. There were no telephones. There was no mobile communication. There was no air-travel. He had to write letters to the churches until he could physically get there by land or sea. Now consider how he felt when he received a letter from a church about some mess going on there. What was he supposed to do? Not a whole lot. He could pray and he could write. That's about it! Well, not really. This is Apostle Paul we're talking about here. He didn't need technology. He was a spiritual giant. Our cell phones, Internet, private jets, Facebook and "Face time" have nothing on the spirit realm. Check this out!

1 Corinthians 5:1-15(NLT) -I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship. Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns.

WOW! While Paul was in Ephesus, he received a letter about some trouble in Corinth but the distance was no problem for him. He told the leaders of the church to call a meeting and both he and Jesus will show up to the meeting in the spirit. He said what? He didn't just say he would show up to the meeting he said that he was already there. Now that's some kind of Apostolic anointing. He dealt with the issues with boldness and spiritual authority. Put the man out! Paul said to hand the guy who was giving trouble over to Satan to destroy his body so his soul could be saved. That's bold!

Yes, he walked around with the daily burden of the churches on his shoulders but if he ever needed to take care of business he could handle it from wherever he was. Why? There is no time or distance in the spirit. From wherever he was in Ephesus, he passed judgment on the person in Corinth prior to the meeting and the meeting was just a formality. It was his personal responsibility to ensure that the churches he founded were successful. Therefore, he wasn't afraid to use the authority and power that Jesus gave him in the spirit to take care of his business.

Jeremiah 3:15(KJV) - And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Pastors don't volunteer for the job. They are called out from among the people by God. They are then given to The Church as gifts to feed His people with knowledge and understanding. That is a big responsibility and can feel like a burden sometimes but God has given us His power to do it. Jesus said in Matthew 11:30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It sure is when we carry it with His power. When we don't cast our cares on The Lord (1 Peter 5:7) and decide to carry it all in our own strength we get completely worn out and feel like giving up.

Ephesians 4:8-14(NLT) - That is why the Scriptures say, "When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself. Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

Don't take your apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for granted. We are responsible for equipping God's people to do His work and build up The Church. We have to do this until the entire church is unified in the faith and all Christians have a proper understanding of Jesus. Most importantly, our assignment ensures that all Christians mature in The Lord and become more and more like Christ. When we carry out our calling, the immaturity that allows Christians to be vulnerable to false doctrines will be broken throughout The Body of Christ. It's a high calling but God has equipped us to carry it out.

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Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 4 - You "Know" More Before You Start Than After!

Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 4 - You "Know" More Before You Start The Church

Two years ago, my wife, Angel and I put our pride, reputation and comfortable lives on the line to answer the call of God to start The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. In this blog series we highlight the top twelve lessons we learned and are still learning along the journey. For the full list of all twelve points, click the following link, "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned". Today, we are highlighting the fourth point; "4) You know more about being a pastor when you're not an actual pastor." For the previous point click the following link; "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Lesson 3 - You Can't Technically "Start" A Megachurch"

I once heard a pastor joke that he knew the best way to solve everyone's problems in the room. It's simple; everyone switch problems with the person next to you. 🙂 He did have a point that we will address today. We always seem to know what someone else should be doing to solve their own problems instead of solving our own.

When I wasn't a pastor, I could come up with so many solutions for the pastor of my church. I always knew ways he could have done things better. I knew more about pastoring than he did. Of course, that's until I became an actual pastor. At that point I discovered that I knew nothing. In fact, I probably know even less now.

On another note, we constantly meet people just like us who have all the answers to what we need to do for our ministry to be successful. "All you guys need to do is this and your church will be successful. All you need to do is that and the church will grow." It's really easy to volunteer answers off the cuff when it's not your problem because your answer does not have to actually work. Everyone has the secret for someone else's success but can't seem to find the secret for their own.

Single people know what married people need to do to have successful marriages. Poor people know what rich people should do with their money. People who don't have children have the best parenting advice for those who do. Seriously, let's all switch problems so we can eliminate them all. If I wasn't a pastor and I was talking to myself I would probably know exactly what I need to do. However, now that I'm a pastor I don't have the answers anymore. Now, I actually have to trust God which is a strange concept when you think you can figure everything out.

Romans 10:2(NKJV) - For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

From our vantage point in the pews we all know how to run the church. I understood it all as I sat and watched someone else do it. Being a pastor was a breeze I thought. I knew exactly what I was going to do and when I got my chance I would do it better than every pastor I knew. I was ready or at least, I thought I was. Church planting here we come. I had my five point plan for church growth. I knew how to choose leaders. I could raise funds for any project we needed. I had a plan for everything.

I thought that once God called us to do something and He anointed us to do it, things would just work out. Well, not exactly. Everything changed when it was time to start and things didn't work as easily as we thought it would. We had a zeal for God but not much knowledge about the reality of pastoring a church in Atlanta. It's not that we didn't have information but the information didn't work the way we thought it would. Some theories look great on paper but they are only proven when applied in real life.

Ephesians 4:11-15(NLT) - Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

The Lord now has us on a journey through Ephesians 4:11-15 as He brings understanding of the basic responsibilities of the fivefold ministry gifts including pastors. This is what He called us to do and this is where our focus lies. We had to let go of our preconceived notions about pastoring and learn the basics once we got started. We must equip God's people to do His work and build up The Church. We must continue until there is true unity in the faith, everyone knows who Jesus is and people become spiritually mature. That in a nutshell is what God has called us to do.

Jeremiah 3:15-16(KJV) - And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

In the process of carrying out God's call to be pastors, we must continue to feed people with knowledge and understanding. We knew so much more before we started but once we started we had to learn the basics. The truth is that things are so much simpler now. We're not called to be experts, we're just called to do God's Will and that's all we need to do. Starting the church was the best decision we could have ever made. We love being pastors and we love the people we have at The Body Church. Regardless of the challenges, we'll never regret the decision to say yes when we heard God's call.

Proverbs 3:5,6(KJV) - Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Starting this church has taught us how to trust God all over again. We don't know what will work anymore other than what God shows us. We ran out of smart ideas and just had to sit before God and wait to hear His directions. I do thank God for my parents, Apostles Emanuel and Jemma Duncan because several times The Lord has used them to speak to us.

They went through this process successfully a long time ago. They now guide and encourage us along the way. We knew it wasn't going to be easy but we thought we would be able to figure it out. Well, there's no figuring out what can't be figured out. There's only trusting The Lord for direction. The only other option is failure and that's not an option for us.

See you next time for "Point 5) When people act "over the top" eager about your church when they first show up, don't assume they'll stay long or even show up again."

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Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus (Part Three)

Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus (Part Three)

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 17 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 16, "How Do We Evangelize? - Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus (Part Two).".

I hear the Lord saying to us, “Enough, already!!! How long will you waver between two opinions? If God is God, serve God if this is not pleasing to you, serve another. For those who choose Me, please stand with holy hands lifted. Your families are dying, your marriages are dying, your friends are dying, and your nation is dying. Live holy so that your lifestyle testifies of Jesus Christ. It’s time to evangelize and save the lost!” - Word From The Lord

The second practical key of evangelism is to Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus. Today is a continuation from yesterday.

4.) God requires us to live holy. As Christians we need to get serious about living lives of holiness before God. His presence will only dwell in clean vessels. Who are we that God would choose to place His Holy Spirit in us? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? Let’s do inventory and make sure that our temples are cleansed and kept holy for the presence of God.

Psalm 8:4 (NASB) – “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV) – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

1 Kings 18:21 (NIV) – “Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing.”

1 Timothy 2:8 (NLT) “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;”

Matthew 7:21-23 (NAS) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”

5.) The Holy Spirit helps us to live holy. Living lives of purity in today’s society is seen as unpopular and virtually impossible in the flesh. However, the HOLY SPIRIT Himself is living inside of us! The Holy Spirit will help us to live holy, to the degree that we chose to obey His promptings in our lifestyle decisions. We have a free will so it’s up to us to personally listen to the Spirit’s voice. We must choose His ways moment by moment.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT) – “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

Joshua 24:14 (NASB) – "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

Are you ready to live holy? Do not let your past sins or short comings stop you from evangelizing. The good news is God is merciful! Jesus paid the price for our sins with His powerful blood. He promises to forgive us and restore His children to purity. Repent, be cleansed, receive His forgiveness and get going with the Father’s business!

Isaiah 1:18 (NASB) - "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.

1 John 1:9 (NASB) – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Today, Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus! Next, we will discuss the third practical key to evangelizing; Be concise: Know the Gospel & keep it simple

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