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Decatur Community Workshops - "Dollars and Common Sense" Highlights

This video provides extended highlights from our recent workshop "Dollars and Common Sense". This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops and 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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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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Misdirection and Distraction - Effective Tools of Deception in the Last Days

Misdirection and Distraction - Effective Tools of Deception

Colossians 2:4(NLT) - I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments.

Have you ever tried to figure out how "magicians" do their tricks? I remember walking through the streets of Manhattan, New York at night over a decade ago with some family and friends. It was late and we were a few blocks from the most active areas so I thought it strange to see a small, lively crowd quickly gathering at what seemed to be an arbitrary street corner.

As we approached the group, I noticed a man in the middle doing what I now know was a typical NY hustle. He had a makeshift table and on it he placed three cups turned upside down. Below one of the cups was a little ball which observers wagered money to locate after he moved the ball around between the cups.

"Follow the ball, follow the ball, follow the ball..." If you keep your eyes on the ball, you'll know exactly where it is. Yet, something so elementary is so much easier said that done. By moving the cups frequently and quickly especially without the actual ball, he was able to deceive his patrons with misdirection.

Eventually, they spent more time looking at the three cups than they did at the one ball which essentially led to them being fooled. Fast forward to 2016 and once again, misdirection and distraction are the tools being used to keep our eyes away from the truth. Many of us are in the middle of a typical New York hustle and we don't even know it.

Welcome to today's blog. I have heard from The Lord and can remain silent no longer. I ate the little scroll and after a minor stomach ache it's time for me to prophesy (See Revelation 10). Like the Apostle Paul said, "I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments."

Daniel 12:4(NLT) - But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.”

Welcome to the last days. With the advent of the printing press in 1440, thoughts and ideas could be communicated to large groups of people far and wide through books. With the advent of the radio in 1895, the same could be done audibly in real-time. With the birth of television in 1927 the ability to communicate messages through audio-visual imagery in real-time changed the world forever.

From there came 24 hour news cycles with CNN in 1980, the world wide web in 1989, the smartphone by IBM in 1992, the first social media website Six Degrees in 1997, Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, the iPhone in 2007 and the rest is history. We are now at the peak of the information age with immediate access to more information than we even need.

With so much knowledge at our fingertips we should be the smartest generation in the history of mankind. Think about it. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report in the first quarter of 2016, mobile broadband subscriptions topped 3.7 billion while mobile smartphone subscriptions topped 3.4 billion worldwide. That means billions of people can know anything they want at any time by just pulling out their phones and accessing the information. So why is it that so many of us don't seem to understand some of the most basic principles that control the world we live in?

How many of us reading this right now can confidently explain exactly how our economy works and why the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. What about our political system? How are laws made or changed or more importantly what laws have been made or changed lately? What about election? Who really controls what goes on in an election campaign? What about our healthcare system? What are the driving factors behind legislation surrounding healthcare? How about answering the question, "What goes into making the food you buy? Would you still eat it if you found out?" I can go on and on.

The point I'm making is that even though an overabundance of information is a good thing, it could also lead to confusion which takes us back to the NY hustle; "Follow the ball, follow the ball, follow the ball..." The truth is the ball and the cups are the information surrounding the ball. If the hustler moves the cups around quickly and frequently enough, those who are watching the cups will lose sight of the ball.

Therefore, we can become completely obsessed with watching cups when our real focus should be on the ball. What we have playing out before our eyes is a simple case of misdirection. A free press is essential in any successful democracy so any effort to suppress information is "frowned upon in this establishment".

Therefore, instead of suppressing the truth, those who want to control the narrative drown out the truth with useless information. It's a simple approach. Don't suppress an unfavorable headline, create commentary on the headline that questions the authenticity of the information supporting it then highlight or even create a distracting event that legitimately replaces the headline with something different. It works especially when people are gullible enough to believe that the information they are receiving is impartial and if it's not, the inherent bias is easily recognizable.

For instance, many people know that money rules the mass media. Why? Advertisers pay the bills so in the end they control the content. If you don't believe that, try to get your message in the media and see how far it reaches. You will quickly find out that it reaches as far as your money does. So the answer to that dilemma for many smart people is that they don't believe what they see or hear on network television and they only trust the messages on public television and radio.

Yes, that's a step in the right direction but let's not forget who finances public radio and television. In addition to the donations of viewers and listeners like you, many of the same corporations who practically own the content on network and cable television support non-profit foundations which in-turn donate to "you guessed it" public radio and television giving them the platform to influence content.

So some smarter people have figured that out and don't believe what they see on television or hear on the radio. They get their information from The Internet. If they want to find the truth, they google it. The corporations and special interests might control mass media like television and radio but they definitely don't control The Internet.

That might be true but why don't you peruse the most visited news, commentary sites, blogs and social media accounts? What you see running on many of those pages are what we affectionately call ads. Why are there ads?

People advertise on sites that have large followings. Pay even closer attention and you will realize that sooner or later, mixed into the messages being presented even on the most thoughtful blogs is sponsored content. The same way doctors are paid by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe certain drugs to their patients, Internet celebrities are paid to mention certain products or take certain positions on issues. In other words, some free thinkers you trust to tell you how to think may not be as free as you originally thought. Nonetheless, that's not the priority of today's blog. This is...

Amos 8:11-12(AMP) - Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but [a famine] for hearing the words of the Lord. And [the people] shall wander from sea to sea and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord [inquiring for and requiring it as one requires food], but shall not find it.

Whenever there's a major news event in the world we can find no shortage of commentary all over the media. Much of this commentary comes from "experts" in the issues at hand, guided of course, by media personalities whose jobs are to discuss the news and shape public perception. Not just that, with immediate access to the available information, any person can make a comment on their social media accounts or in some cases, directly below the news articles on major news websites.

So that's exactly what many of us do in The Body of Christ. We join the commentary and share our opinions with anyone who would listen. While there's a plethora of Christian commentary everywhere, especially on social media, there's a famine of The Word of Lord. When we give our opinions we essentially regurgitate the perspectives we viewed in the media that shaped our mindsets. Hence, our opinions have no power and the famine continues.

Yes, we appreciate what you think about President Obama and his wife, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton but what is The Lord saying? It's easy to join the movement and say "Black Lives Matter" when we see disproportionate use of lethal force or "Blue Lives Matter" when someone attacks the police or "All Lives Matter" when we don't understand what's going on.

However, what is The Lord saying? People are scrolling through the channels on television, radio stations, Google searches, Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines and anywhere they can find information looking for more than just commentary and personal opinions but a Word from The Lord.

Luke 21:34-36(AMP) - But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose; For it will come upon all who live upon the face of the entire earth. Keep awake then and watch at all times [be discreet, attentive, and ready], praying that you may have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape all these things [taken together] that will take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man.

For years, we have been fast asleep with our eyes wide open. In an age when the truth is out there for everyone, less and less seem to find it. While we're busy being entertained by sponsored media content, worrying about what's going on or dealing with the everyday stresses of our lives, important things are drastically changing around the world.

Many of which will directly affect our lives very soon. The Lord revealed that an economic boom is coming followed by the hugest economic bust we have ever seen. The oil price will go back up. The result of the upcoming US Presidential election will shock the world. There's a Muslim connection to The Antichrist that's clearly visible through the countries that support him in Daniel 11 and the way Christians will be persecuted by beheading in Revelation 20:4. Additionally, both Turkey and Russia are on the short list of countries from which The King of The North in Daniel 11 will come.

According to Reuters, Turkey responded to a failed military coup by arresting, detaining or questioning over 60,000 people, many of whom are not in the military and did not participate in the coup at all. Long before any of this took place, The Lord told us to keep our eyes on Turkey because they play a major role in the End Times as a whole and specifically the rise of The Antichrist.

We really have no idea what is going in that country right now but we are paying very close attention because we heard from The Lord. Istanbul, Turkey was once known as Constantinople, one of the capitals of the Roman Empire and then the Ottoman Empire which helped spread Islam through large portions of the world. Turkey is now a major link between the Muslim community and Europe because it borders both regions. It also has very important ties to Russia.

Among other things, The Lord showed us a secret plan that is currently underway involving Russia within The United States that very few will know about until it is too late. Since The Cold War ended many assume that military conflict between the two countries is possible but highly improbable. However, what may not be accomplished with direct military intervention can be done through subtlety. Let me explain. Airplanes, submarines, ships, missiles and all of these other tools of war are being closely watched by the US military which is the most powerful in the world.

However, while terrorist organizations have found a way to attack from the inside what is impossible to attack from the outside, countries like Russia have paid very close attention. They won't come by air or by sea with an external attack because that will not work. Like the Trojan Horse used to enter Troy they will slowly build their forces then attack from within. If you don't believe it, you will find out soon enough. Based on what The Lord has revealed, the plan is already underway.

2 Timothy 3:1-5(NLT) - You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the last days. While you were sleeping, everything changed.

2 Timothy 3:13(NLT) - But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.

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Decatur Community Workshops: #RealisticRelationshipGoals Highlights

This video provides just a few highlights from our recent workshop "#RealisticRelationshipGoals". Click the link within the video to see more extended highlights. This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops and 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 - Persecution

You can view the slides from this presentation at the following link; Understanding The End Times - Persecution

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In this third session, the focus was on Persecution. Click here for Session Two - The Beginning of Sorrows.

Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide. An average of at least 180 Christians around the world are killed each month for their faith. (Source: Open Doors USA)

Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Christ. (Source: U.S. Department of State)

Many Christians will be put to death during The Great Tribulation because of their refusal to take The Mark of The Beast.

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Decatur Community Workshops: Christian Dating Highlights

This video provides just a few highlights from our recent workshop "Christian Dating". Click the link within the video to see more extended highlights. This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops and 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 Beginning of Sorrows

You can view the slides from this presentation at the following link; Understanding The End Times - The Beginning of Sorrows

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In this second session, the focus was on The Beginning of Sorrows. Click here for Session One - The Introduction.

Every time there’s a war, earthquake or other natural disaster people keep saying these are signs of the end times. If wars, famine, earthquakes and pestilences are the signs we should be looking for, the data should prove it the same way it did for the disciples.

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In the second session, the focus was on The Beginning of Sorrows.

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

As long as we deem the content of the material appropriate for public release we will make the videos public. If we start dealing with information that's a bit too controversial to make public at this time we will restrict access to those who have signed up for the workshop. To register for live online access to upcoming workshops, click here.

Understanding The End Times - Workshop

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Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #12: Many Choose Churches For What They Can Get, Not Give

Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #12: Many Choose Churches For What They Can Get, Not Give

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 twelfth and final point; " 12) Many people choose a church for what they can get from the church instead of what they can give."

For the previous point click the following link; "Young Pastor Confession #11) Be careful who you trust. You will be shocked at who might be smiling in your face and talking behind your back."

"I'm just not being fed at that church. They just don't have everything that my family needs. Their facilities are sorely lacking. I love it over here. Every week, our praise service is like a huge concert with smoke, lights and special effects. My pastor's a superstar, more people want his autograph than his blessing. My kids get all they could desire at the children's ministry. We get what we want so this must be where God wants us. Church is about what we can get, right? Isn't it? How else can we grow into what God has called us to become?"

Ephesians 4:14-16(NLT) - 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. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Growth does not come from simply being a part of The Body of Christ and receiving from it. It comes when each part does its own special work. Every part of The Body of Christ has work to do including you and me. This is how Christ put His church together and this is how The Body of Christ grows into a strong, healthy, supernatural organism overflowing with God's Love. Yet week after week, there are Christians all over the US and the rest of the world who go to church services, enjoy the show and go home. The only thing they don't do is eat popcorn and drink slushies as they watch the amazing production that's put on before their eyes.

Due to their consistent attendance, they sometimes feel empowered to even criticize those who actually serve on a weekly basis. If they like what they see on Sunday morning, they give a round of applause and a good offering but if they don't like it, they grumble about what could be better once they reach the privacy of their cars. They went to church to receive from God so if they didn't receive what they came for, something's wrong with that church assembly and somebody needs to fix it. How do I know? I've been there.

For years I sat in a fabulous church and did nothing but watch what was going on around me. I didn't see a need to participate in any meaningful way. I also didn't see where my gifts and talents were even needed. I was there to receive what The Lord had for me so showing up was what mattered and believe me, I was not alone. I felt proud that I didn't miss a Sunday and I even showed up consistently for the midweek services when the crowds were small. That's right! I wasn't a Sunday morning Christian like the rest of them, I attended church during the rest of the week too and God must be so proud of me. Well, not really.

For some reason, many of us have overemphasized the importance of church attendance and under-emphasized the importance of church participation. I agree with Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:25 that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as some do but that's just the beginning. If you're in a church assembly and you're not doing your special part to make it grow in spiritual health and love, are you really even there?

The point is that if you choose a church assembly for what you can get out of it, what you do to serve in the church when you get there is of no consequence. If you're there to get blessed and you're not getting blessed, you probably won't see any other reason to be there. That's why it's easy for some people to attend a church and take from the community of believers without every feeling compelled to give.

Romans 12:4-8(NLT) - In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

1 Peter 4:10-11(NLT) - God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Everyone of us has at least one gift from God because everyone of us has a purpose. He won't call us to do anything He didn't give us the gift to do and He won't gift us to do anything He didn't call us to do. God's responsibility was to give the gifts. It is actually the responsibility of each individual Christian to serve God in a local church using the gifts God has given. What does that mean? If you're a church attendee like I used to be, stop warming the bench and get in the game.

Also, if you're on the bench because there's no room for you on the team, it's either not your time or you may be on the wrong team. If it's not your time, then be patient and the opportunity for you will come. However, if you're on the wrong team and it's clear that they don't need you it's time to make a move. There's a team with a vacancy that's tailor made for you and your gifts. Not just that, they're probably praying to God every week that He would send you to them. One of my favorite pastors would say that if two people are completely the same, doing the same things, in the same place, one of them is irrelevant. Let that not be said of you.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

As we bring this blog series to a close, let us ponder these final thoughts. Do you believe that The Church is really The Body of Christ and each member including you and me are parts of it? If yes, then think about something with me. If any part of your body does not function the way God designed it to function how do you think it would impact the rest of your body? For instance, what if your heart didn't beat properly? What if your lungs didn't extract oxygen from air anymore?

What if your hand lost its ability to grip? Now take it a step further? What if a part of your body did absolutely nothing at all? For instance, what if your ears did not hear or your eyes did not see? Would that be a problem? Of course! Then why is it that people think it is okay to be a part of The Body of Christ and do nothing while receiving nutrients from the rest of The Body? The scripture above says that God puts each part exactly where He wants it.

What does that mean for you? It means that you are shaped, fashioned and created to fit into a specific place in The Body of Christ. Every member of The Body of Christ was designed by God to be placed in a specific part of the body to carry out a specific function. Eyes see, ears hear, kidneys clean and hearts pump blood not because they want to or it's popular. They do so because that's what God created them to do and if they don't do what they do, the entire body suffers. In fact, any part of the human body that appears not to have a vital function (e.g. appendix) is usually amputated if it ever gives problems.

On another note, every part of The Body of Christ doesn't get to choose where they connect with The Body. They have to be where God has placed them. It might be true that they can attach anywhere and receive from The Body. However, until they are attached where they are supposed to be they will never be able to give to The Body what they were created to give. If my hand is attached to my stomach, it's worthless to my body because that's not where I need a hand. So why is it that some Christians will spend twenty years in a church attached to The Body of Christ where they do not fit?

The Body of Christ has parts all over the place doing all kinds of stuff. We have hands trying to take steps like feet. We have ears trying to talk like mouths. We have toes trying to breathe like lungs. Why? Because we're not positioned according to where we can truly function and serve in God's Kingdom. We positioned ourselves where we want to be and the rest of The Body suffers as a result of it. We also position ourselves where we're most comfortable or receive the most benefit.

Now for my final point about being relevant. If my body has two arms attached to the same shoulder, one is irrelevant. What about thirty arms? Twenty nine are irrelevant. In your church, are you arm number thirty attached to one shoulder waiting for the other twenty nine to die or move so you can get your opportunity? Perhaps, there are twenty nine shoulder sockets in your area missing an arm while that one socket you're attached to has thirty.

Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35(NLT) - All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

What's my point? You're one of the many important parts of the The Body of Christ. Don't attach yourself where it's popular or where you can simply feed off The Body. Attach yourself where you fit and function as you were designed. Covenant membership in The Church is a two-way street. You receive from The Body and you give to it. You are fed by The Body and you feed others in it. That's how God designed His church and that's how it should function. The truth is that if you receive anything from your church it's because someone else is giving it. Again, if you're not in the game, get off the bench and help the team win or join a team that needs your talents.

Acts of the Apostles 20:35(NLT) - And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

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Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #11: Be Careful Who You Trust

Trust

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 eleventh point; " 11) Be careful who you trust. You will be shocked at who might be smiling in your face and talking behind your back."

For the previous point click the following link; "Young Pastor Confession #10 - The easiest part of being a pastor is preaching. If that's all you want to do, preach on the street. It's less stressful."

Proverbs 4:23(NLT) - Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

One of my mentors in the ministry is Apostle Daren Phillips of Christ United Church in Loganville, GA. He told me that pastors should always put their hearts in God's hands and not in the hearts of people. Otherwise, some people will break our hearts causing us to become callous toward everyone else which is never good for the ministry.

John 2:23-25(NLT) - Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.

What would Jesus do? That's the question we often have to ask ourselves as we face life's challenges with the intent of emulating our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How about we reshape the question to offer a different perspective? What would Jesus not do? He would not be naive as the leader of The Church. When He walked the earth He was a people person. He was personable, merciful, loving, forgiving and understanding but He was not gullible.

He knew why people followed Him and could tell that the majority were only there because of the signs and wonders He performed. Most of them could care less about Him as a person because what really mattered in their eyes was what He could do for them. Moreover, one of the twelve disciples proved that Jesus could not even wholeheartedly trust the people closest to Him.

John 12:1-8(NLT) - Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Judas was the treasurer but he was stealing money from Jesus all along. Not just that, Judas had the audacity to open his mouth to comment on what Mary chose to do with her money. Perhaps, he had his eyes on her own too. Think about it. Jesus handpicked His twelve disciples but one of them turned out to have questionable character traits. In fact The Bible says in John 6:70-71(NLT); "Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him."

I guess calling Judas a man of questionable character is putting it lightly. Perhaps, Jesus allowed this level of self-deception to take place as a lesson for us. Please note that I used the word self-deception because Judas only deceived himself. Jesus never did trust him and he should have figured that out the first time Jesus called him a devil.

He may not have sold Jesus out to the authorities as yet but he was stealing money all along. One valuable lesson from this story is that if someone on your leadership team could minister alongside you yet steal money from you, put nothing else beyond them. Judas started off just stealing money from the treasury but he ending up setting a trap for Jesus to be arrested and crucified.

Psalms 118:8(NLT) - It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people.

It's confession time. I was a naive young pastor and it came back to bite me. Let me break it down. I've been hurt in dating relationships as a single man. I've been hurt at work as a young engineer. I've been hurt in business as a young investor. However, nothing hurt like I was hurt as a young pastor. To watch someone we poured ourselves into for years turn around and disrespect me, my wife and the church hit me deep in my heart. It hurt so much that it took me weeks to recover. I think the biggest thing for me was getting over the shock of being so dishonored by someone we thought so highly of. Worst of all, we never received an apology so we had to forgive without even the slightest hint of repentance.

Through it all, God was with us and I learned a valuable lesson. Trust God and not people. You can trust the God in people but don't be gullible enough to trust people that God does not. If Jesus is our perfect example, we cannot be naive. For every twelve people in our church circle, one of them is not to be trusted with anything at all. Additionally, in much less dramatic fashion, other people have sorely disappointed us during that time because we opened our hearts to any and every person who showed up to church.

When you're just starting a church, especially without a core to start with from another church there's an extreme level of excitement you experience when anyone walks through the door. That's reflected in your willingness to believe whatever they say and plug them in quickly to fill needs in the church. That's not good and we know that now. We've grown over the years and now we're much more discerning. We love everyone but we don't trust them. We trust God and only if He trusts them, we trust them too. Be careful who you trust.

1 Timothy 5:22(NLT) - Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader. Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

This is one of the most important scriptures in The Bible for a young pastor. The area that requires the most trust in a church assembly is leadership. One of the first tasks of building a church assembly is appointing leaders. Perhaps, it should not be. If you don't give the process enough time you could make some big mistakes that you will regret for a long time. Apostle Daren Phillips told me recently that it's easier to ordain someone than it is to un-ordain them so ordain wisely. Church leadership is 80% character and 20% more character. Competency, skill, etc. go along for the ride. It's better to appoint church leaders with Godly character and let them lead a team of people with skill. In the end, we remain committed to the following guidelines provided in the scripture for the selection of church leadership.

1 Timothy 3:1-13(NLT) - This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position.” So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? An elder must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap. In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity. They must not be heavy drinkers or dishonest with money. They must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed and must live with a clear conscience. Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. If they pass the test, then let them serve as deacons. In the same way, their wives must be respected and must not slander others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do. A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well. Those who do well as deacons will be rewarded with respect from others and will have increased confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.

These are the characteristics God looks for in church leaders. We should too. When people in leadership demonstrate this type of character in a church assembly, the pastor can sleep well at night because the ministry is in good hands. The guidelines are quite exhaustive but they all point to one thing; good character. People of good character honor God, their own families, their church leaders and everyone else in the church God has called them to be involved with. If we choose people for leadership based on these Biblical criteria we can avoid much unnecessary disaster and heartache in our local churches.

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Decatur Community Workshops: Young and Married in Atlanta Extended Video Highlights

This video provides just a few highlights from our recent workshop "Young and Married in Atlanta". This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops and 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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