“The way to Christ is first through humility, second through humility, third through humility. If humility does not precede and accompany and follow every good work we do, if it is not before us to focus on, if it is not beside us to lean upon, if it is not behind us to fence us in, pride will wrench from our hand any good deed we do at the very moment we do it.”
DO YOU KNOW ANYONE WITH HANSEN’S DISEASE? I don’t either.
Hansen’s disease — also known as leprosy — is one of the world’s oldest maladies. Leprosy is a bacterial disease that attacks the nervous system, particularly the nerves of the hands, feet and face. As the body absorbs cartilage into its system, victims of the disease slowly lose their fingers, toes and even limbs. While leprosy has been eradicated in the west, it is still active and greatly feared across Asia because of the disfigurement it can cause, the social stigma it carries, and because it can be transmitted through close contact with a patient.
There are tens of thousands of people suffering from leprosy in more than 1,000 leper colonies throughout South Asia. The social stigma is devastating, perhaps even worse than the disease itself. However, leprosy can be totally cured without permanent damage if medical help is sought immediately. Unfortunately, in remote places and among the poor, diagnosis and treatment often come too late. And sadly, only those among the cured who have no visible deformity will be able to integrate back into society. All others will have to live in leper colonies — alone or with their families — for the rest of their lives.
In the midst of this hopelessness, the light of Jesus Christ is breaking through, bringing hope to those who have been brushed aside by society. Please pray for Gospel for Asia’s leprosy ministry, that many suffering from this terrible disease would embrace the Savior, who is reaching out to them in love. GFA-supported missionaries in the leper colonies show Christ’s love by cleaning wounds and changing bandages, by giving medical care, by making special shoes to protect the people’s feet, by helping with household chores, by providing food, but most importantly by telling the people of and showing Christ’s love for them.
Recently a group of students traveled to Asia and visited a leprosy colony. Click the photo below to watch and share Ashley’s powerful story (but HD seems to short it out).
Here are some web resources:
Thank you for sharing the plight of these unseen, yet precious people!
“What normally passes for Christianity is a religion that does not really require us to follow Christ.
“We can be a part of churchianity and still pursue unfettered materialism. We can be part of churchianity and not turn the other cheek, not help the poor, not be humble, not love our neighbor, brother and enemy, not die to self daily. Heck, we can even claim to be Christian and fight battles for the fallen kingdoms of this wicked world system and kill another human being.
“But as long as you join an organization, attend regularly and give them their expected proper membership dues, they will consider you to be a Christian.
“Some people have told me that they are praying that I come back to ‘the church.’ The fact is: I never left The Church. I’m an eternal life member. I left the building to follow Christ.”
~ Mike Hutchison
Just like Jesus in His day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. threatened the power of the government, the military/industrial complex, and even the coffers of organized crime. Some say that this is what cost him his life, and that his death was not attributable to James Earl Ray or anyone other than the CIA and associated interests.
Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day in America, and he was honored nationwide. Mail delivery was halted, many had the day off work, and services and remembrances were held in churches, state capitols and even on the floors of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Odd that, considering this same government is credited with killing Dr. King.
The cause of peace – real peace – would bankrupt many people, most governments and all weapons manufacturers and other purveyors of violence, death and destruction the world over. That’s the real reason MLK was killed. The love of money. And we know that the love of money is the root of evil in our world, because the scriptures tell us so. Over and over and over. Yet most American Christians continue to support the militaristic actions of their government, even though that support has helped spread more chaos and death among more innocent people than has ever befallen the earth in human history.
For more information on the death of King, and a trial that proved who the guilty parties are, go to:
Jesus commanded us to walk in peace, and we often fail to do that. As we remember a man who lived – and died – for the cause of peace, let’s do our part to fight injustice, stop war and reach out with God’s love to a world that hungers and thirsts for Him. Start by informing yourselves more, arming your mind with the ammunition needed to fight the propaganda of powerful forces in this world. Then take what you discover and spread it, so that others may hear and be set free.
Then occupy. That’s what Jesus told us to do: “Occupy until I come.” Funny how modern-day “occupiers” have filled cities across the nation in an effort to fight economic injustice. We should do at least that much as we work to share an eternal message of peace, hope and love.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:17-21
(Thanks to my buddy Mike for the initial reference on this post. Love you, bro!)
ED. NOTE: I’m reprinting this article, first published more than a year ago. I believe the message is as timely as ever. Your comments and opinions are always welcome. – Brother Dennis
THE UPSHUR ANCESTRAL HOME in England — Sheringham Hall — stands to this day, surrounded by more than 800 acres of lush gardens, forests and fields. Once teeming with high-society folk, carriages coming and going, and throngs of servants waiting upon every need and whim of the householder, the property now belongs to a government trust. It remains a beautiful place, but the old glory is gone.
The Upshur family in America has a rich and well-documented history — one of landowners, military heroes, aristocrats and statesmen. They operated plantations on the choicest land in Virginia, endless fields brimming with slaves who gazed across the ocean toward Africa, longing for their far-off homes and families.
Arthur Upshur arrived on the shores of Virginia around 1637, the forerunner of one of America’s most respected and influential early families. The family grew, prospered and built mansions with names like Warwick, Vaucluse, Rose Cottage and Quinby Place.
Vaucluse — the famous Upshur estate — is located on Hungars Creek, near Bridgetown, Northampton County, Virginia. Built in 1784, Vaucluse is today one of the showplaces of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
The brick part of Warwick was built in 1672 by Arthur Upshur as his seat on 2,000 acres granted him by “Pyony, King of the Machipungoe” for “four good coats.”
Upshur was truly Lord of the Manor, and it seems that his sense of entitlement gave him free conscience to acquire 2,000 acres of prime forest, farm and oceanfront property from a Native American Chief for a few coats.
This isn’t to say that aristocrats are necessarily evil people, but they have a certain bearing that never changes. They are not servants and never will be. They may serve on occasion — maybe even carry some sweet tea out to the slaves in the cotton fields — but they will never be servants. That just isn’t their place in life. They are Masters.
Of course, people in charge need others to serve them, and that’s where the true servants come in.
Frequently we call them slaves, sometimes servants, often volunteers. Even Jesus knew that we’d always have the poor, because he understood that those in charge have an insatiable need to be served.
And it seems they’ll do most anything to ensure the steady supply of servants — from buying them, coercing them, deceiving them or just plain reminding them that their “station” in life is to submit to leadership so the greater good can be served. Of course, the “greater good” most often translates into what’s best for those on top.
The sad truth is that in the same way Masters have a bearing of entitlement, Slaves possess a bearing of servitude, acceptance and defeat. Slaves see themselves as slaves, and innately understand that their role in life is to serve those who lord it over them.
Just look at politicians and how they’ve become our masters — and all while telling us that they’re here to serve us! What a joke. Are they truly our servants?
The truth is, it’s always been like this. Master and slave. Rich and poor. Lord of the Manor and servant. This country was founded like all others — not on principles of equality, but on the backs of the shackled. Ask any Native American how he or she feels about our founders’ statement that “all men are created equal,” and I think they’d just laugh sadly, knowing that their people have paid dearly for not being as “equal” as the European invaders.
I think we’ve got to start asking ourselves why we continually allow ourselves to become enslaved to those who consider themselves rulers. Do we enjoy watching others benefit unfairly at our expense? Do you think in the end that “Pyony, King of the Machipungoe” was happy with the deal he got? How long did those four coats last? “How’s that working for ya’, King?” My guess is that he later resented the white man taking advantage of him, but by that time it was too late. The rich man had become Lord of the Manor, and he’d do whatever was required to protect it.
How does this translate into our life of following Jesus? Aren’t we supposed to become servants? In fact, yes. But the only way it works properly is if we all become servants. Otherwise, some of us have a knack for taking advantage of others. Jesus sets it out for us very clearly many times in the Gospels, but here’s just one passage:
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23
Jesus actually presents us with a pattern that’s upside-down from the world. He excoriates the religious leaders of the day for their arrogance and desire to use their position for their own gain. He even prophesies their downfall. But Jesus doesn’t say that we — His followers — should be on top. In fact, He says none of us should be called Rabbi — or Master — because “we are all brethren,” equal in the Kingdom of God.
But wait, there is a way to be the greatest, and He points it out by saying that “the greatest among you shall be your servant.” That can be taken two ways: 1) If we become servants to others, than we will be judged greatest of all; or 2) The “greatest” among us — pastors, preachers, politicians, parents and potentates — are called to serve. Not to rule over others, but to truly give their lives for those “under them.”
Real problems arise in the Body of Christ when men set themselves up to be rulers, apostles, prophets, healers and “clergy.” They separate themselves from the common man and most people think it’s OK, because most of us just want to be humble and do the right thing, right?
Our honest desire to serve God can become misguided by unquestionably submitting to the authority over us, and often plays right into one of the fundamental weaknesses of mankind: pride, arrogance and the desire to gain power, prestige, recognition and this world’s goods.
If “we are all brethren” and none should be called Rabbi, as Jesus said, then why do we habitually cede so much power to those who neither deserve it nor need it? Why do we allow ourselves to be dominated, and then think it glorifies God?
It never glorifies God when a few benefit at the expense of the many. He does not like this. Was He pleased when the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites? Of course not! And when they were free, He didn’t even want them to have their own King. Why not? Because He wanted to be the only Master in their lives, and knew that any man ruling over them would be corrupted by that position. Did Paul make money on the Gospel? No. He worked for a living with his own hands, so that he would not be accused of acting improperly. Paul was a real leader, but truly became a servant to the early Church. Where did it all change?
Don’t get me wrong — the Body of Christ needs leaders, but with leadership comes an awesome responsibility. To become servants. Jesus set the example over and over again with His disciples, and that’s the pattern He expects us to follow. How can we call ourselves followers of Jesus if we refuse to do what He did? It just doesn’t make sense, does it?
How can “leaders” profit from the Gospel on the backs of all those “volunteers,” and honestly think they’re servants? If a politician or a preacher or a potentate says that they’re here to serve you, then you must ask yourself this:
“If I’m in the field, day and night, sacrificing family, treasure, health and relationships for ‘the greater good’ and receive no earthly return (nor do I expect one) — but the Lord of the Manor sits in his position of prestige, power and prosperity, ruling over me and receiving the fruits of my labor — who is the true servant?”
The answer to that is an easy one, and the solution to the imbalance is also simple. Just follow Paul’s injunction to the Philippians:
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Phil. 2:1-8
We need serve only one Master.
And His name is Jesus.
You did what in my name?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” Matt. 7:21-23
BUT LORD, OUR WORSHIP SERVICES ARE AWESOME!
North Central University (a Pentecostal university in Minneapolis, Minn.) Chapel Spokesperson, Betsy Tolingsworth explains, “The church is locked into a bloody battle with MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, and Star Wars, for the hearts and minds of the young people of this country. We need to prove our worship services are a mind-bending, edge of your seat thriller experience just like any other entertainment venue. Plus, we spent so much money on this stuff, we’re kind of stuck using it now.”
BUT LORD, WE BUILT THE BIGGEST CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.!
BUT LORD, I SPOKE WITH TONGUES AND DANCED IN THE SPIRIT!
BUT LORD, I HEALED THE SICK!
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matt. 25:31-46
Yeah, sure. But we have to look at the difference between the people on Jesus’ left (goats) and on his right (sheep) to truly understand what these scriptures are telling us. We have to look at their attitude – the intent of their heart.
The “goats” are those who have acted in a self-serving manner, thinking primarily of themselves and what they’ve accomplished. Notice they say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” They boasted about their works. But what was Jesus’ answer?
Unbelievably, he said “I never knew you”! They were arrogant and proud, the very sin of Lucifer. It appears that the goats are those who want to “make a name for themselves.” Now where else do we see that?
In Genesis 11:4 it says, “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.'”
God didn’t scatter the people who were building the Tower of Babel because He was afraid they’d reach the heavens, even though that’s what most Christians believe. That’s ridiculous! What would God Almighty need to be afraid of?
No, God punished them because of their pride and arrogance.
On the other hand, Jesus pointed out that those who fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, invited in the stranger, and visited the sick and imprisoned would spend eternity with Him.
HE KNEW THEM!
And He knew them, because they acted like He did. They operated in the same Spirit as Jesus, and didn’t even realize it! It was natural. “When did we do those things?” they said. Their true salvation is in the fact that they never thought twice about doing the things Jesus did, because He lived in them. His Spirit – the Holy Spirit (see the Fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5) – dwelt in them. It was obvious to the King that these “sheep” had truly accepted Jesus into their hearts, because He witnessed the outpouring of His love into the lives of others.
THIS IS NOT A SOCIAL GOSPEL, NOR IS IT SALVATION BY WORKS.
No, we must accept the atonement Jesus provided for us on Calvary to enter eternal life, but if we don’t have works to prove our faith, then we don’t have faith. It’s as simple as that.
And for all those who are arrogant and want to make a name for themselves, there is hell to pay. Literally.
I will say here that in the last 35 years I have witnessed more pastors and church leaders who are full of themselves than I care to mention. They may do “good works,” but it’s usually with the intention of taking credit, gaining power, making money, increasing the size of their churches, and gathering the adulation of men to themselves. I’ve seen it over and over and over again. And recently, I learned of another pastor caught up in a five-year-long adulterous affair, who has not and will not be corrected properly because he has no real accountability to anybody. This is the height of arrogance and pride. It scares me to think of the consequences, especially because I love this man.
I realize I’m not without fault, but I also have not set myself up as a ruler or teacher over others, then lorded over people in such a manner as to “make a name for myself.” “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1
It’s safe to say that Jesus doesn’t truly “know” people like this, even though they have titles, degrees, gifts, callings, mega churches or great ministries. Pride and arrogance suck salvation right out of men’s souls, leaving them “whited sepulchres, full of dead men’s bones,” just like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.
He hated what they represented then, and it’s no different today.
We must stay humble if we expect to follow Jesus. It’s the only way.
“Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:5-10
Make me a broken, humble, and pliable vessel;
Mold me to exemplify Your tolerance and grace.
Teach me to learn the lessons of suffering;
While failing and falling, show me the meaning of trust.
Encourage me to encourage;
Incline my ear to hear.
Let me learn to pour out of the heart and not out of the mouth;
Teach me to persevere with my brothers.
Help me to seize the day, not to seize cities;
To lend a hand with your bountiful gifts.
Cause me to toil in your vineyards of love,
and to give away the sustenance You so freely have given.
– by Sharon
TEARS OF THE SAINTS by Leeland