Study Tour 2014

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Shema Israel, Adonai elohenu, Adonai echad,
Ve’ahavta et Adonai eloeikah,
b’khol levavkah,
uve’khol naphshekah,
uve’khol m’odekah.
Ve’ahavta re acha comocha.

Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone,
love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your strength!
Love your neighbor as yourself.

-Deuteronomy 6:4:5 & Leviticus 19:18

I’m thankful to have the opportunity to once again walk some of the ancient paths of our faith, and as much as I can, I would love to share some of this experience with you.

Here is the plan for the days ahead.

  • Day 1 – Traveling to the Middle East
  • Day 2 – Cairo: Where Stone Touches Sky
  • Day 3 – Aswan: Meet the gods!
  • Day 4 – Nile Center: Let My People Go!
  • Day 5 – Aliyah!: Going up to Meet with God – Sinai
  • Day 6 – Into the Wilderness: Walk this Way
  • Day 7 – Timnah: God Shaped Servants – A Wilderness People
  • Day 8 – Jordan South: Preparing to Engage
  • Day 9 – Jordan Center: From Moses to John to Jesus
  • Day 10 – Jordan to Galilee: Entering the Land
  • Day 11 – Galilee – North: Another Kind of People
  • Day 12 – Around the Galilee: Another Kind of Egypt
  • Day 13 – Shephelah: Engage!
  • Day 14 – Jerusalem – Old City: Another Kind of Exodus
  • Day 15 – Traveling Home

If you’re interested in following our progress on this trip, you can follow me on this blog, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.  I’ll share what I can, when I can, as I study the text in the context of the land in which it was written.

Here is the promo video for this Study Tour.  Enjoy!

Church Leadership

Any discussion on Church Leadership must start with Jesus.

  • The Church Belongs to Jesus
    • I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18
  • Jesus is the Head of the Church
    • He is the head of the body, the church. – Colossians 1:18

Once we have established the place of Jesus in Church Leadership, we turn to the structures of human leadership that He has put in place in the Bible.

Three Groups in the church

  • Congregation
  • Deacons
  • Elders

Paul and Timothy,  servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: -Philippians 1:1

How do these groups work together?

Elder Led
Deacon Served
Congregationally Affirmed

The congregation is a specific gathering of regenerated believers, who in obedience to scripture; organize under, and willingly submit to, biblically-qualified leadership; come together regularly for preaching and worship; observe the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; are held accountable through discipleship; and go out into the world to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission as missionaries for the glory of God and the salvation of humanity.

Matthew 16:15-19, 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47, 5:11-14, 6:3-6, 13:1-3, 14:23,27, 15:1-30, 20:28; Romans 1:7; I Corinthians 1:2, 3:16, 5:4-5, 7:179, 13-14, 12; Ephesians 1:22-23, 2:19-22, 3:8-11,21, 5:22-32; Philippians 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3, 21:2-3

 

Deacons are biblically-qualified believers who are called by the congregation to the work of guarding the unity of the church through service.

Acts 6:1-7 & 1 Timothy 3:8-13

 

Elders are biblically-qualified men who, in council with other elders, lead the church as shepherds.  This shepherding responsibility includes three primary tasks; leading, feeding, and protecting.  Elders are to lead by example through service, feed through the regular teaching and application of God’s Word, and protect the congregation from both internal and external danger.  An Elder is a steward who has been called to love and guard the flock of God until the true Shepherd, Jesus, returns.

Titus 1:5-9, 1 Timothy 3:1-7 & 1 Peter 5:1-5

You can listen to the message here.

Operation Redemption

I still remember the first time I heard Darell’s story.  Though I won’t go into it here, trust me when I say that it is a beautiful picture of the redemptive work of our Savior.  He is a man who has experienced much in his life and who has seen the true value of Christ in both feast and famine.  Recently, Darell had an opportunity to participate in a ministry that we have been praying about for a quite a while, and I wanted you to be able to hear from him regarding his experience.

 

“September 10th was not only my birthday, but it was most unique in very powerful way.  I was provided the opportunity to visit the Darrington Unit and share my testimony to approximately 150 men.  These are men who much like I were products of homes without father figures to guide them in life or teach them right from wrong, therefore had to endure life learning the difficult way.

As I traveled the 45 minute drive from Bay Area First Baptist Church – Men’s Ministry inauguration of Men’s Fraternity, anxiety began to overwhelm me as the reality of returning to the very place I was released 16 years prior for my involvement in reception and delivery of automobiles with altered identification numbers.  Upon entering the unit, I could feel the power of everyone’s prayer beginning to anoint me with the Holy Spirit (thanks everyone for your supporting prayers, they were received!).

After being introduced to the men of the Darrington Unit and prayed upon by my newest dear friend, John Eckeberger,  I  began to convey my life’s journey but assured everyone it failed to serve a purpose until I fell flat on my face and claimed Christ as my Savior 17 years prior on the very ground we currently stood, literally.  I was there for one purpose only; it was my love for them but my greater love of God and Christ’s will to invite them on this journey to a greater place.  I then conveyed my testimony comprising extreme trials, tribulations, salvation, successes followed by more trials, tribulations successes, and the becoming of the father I never knew.  When God’s love for you is so strong and He wants your attention, He will give you a “Step to Remember.”  Once you commit your faith with all your heart, regardless of one’s past, you are a new creation.

Upon my completing the testimony God had prepared for 46 years to the very day, which almost every man could relate, I inquired on the number of men who were products of an environment tantamount to my experience where there was an absence of a caring father figure.  Almost every man raised his hand.  Thereafter, I inquired on the number of men present who had children and almost every man raised his hand.  I then relayed to them the following statistics:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average,
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average,
  • 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average  (Center for Disease Control),
  • 80% of rapist motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes. – 14 times the average (Source: Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14, pp. 403-26).
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average  (National Principals Association Report),
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes – 10 times the average  (Rainbows for All God’s Children),
  • 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average  (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988), and
  • 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction).

Upon completion, I stressed the importance of them breaking the chains and being the father to their children God is calling them to become or risk the chance of their children becoming these alarming statistics.

During altar call, every man stood and reclaimed their salvation or claimed it for the first time.  Our God is so powerful and without question, put this together for His Glory.  It was His plan!  Wow…challenge that Charles Robert Darwin!!!

I cannot think of a birthday gift capable of topping this day.

As many of you are familiar, I have the greatest passion to be the father I never knew as well as share my testimony to those of similar fate.  I would like to present the opportunity for all of you to join me in “Operation Redemption” to disciple these men as Christ has called us to mission in Matthew 28:19; “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”  There is no other mission field with more opportunity than the very prisons housing 85% of men from fatherless homes.  In the event this is your calling, please send me an email.  These men need us….”

In the Light of Christ,

Darell Rodgers

d.rodgers(at)earthlink.net

Disciples-Making Disciples

2 Timothy 2:1-2
2:1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

 

Here is a little of the background of these verses.  The second letter to Timothy was written by Paul to his disciple Timothy near the end of Paul’s life.  This letter, then, serves as Paul’s final charge to Timothy.  After a good bit of introduction in the first section of the letter, Paul immediately states, what I believe to be, one of the essential actions of a disciple.
Paul tells Timothy that he must be a disciple-making disciple.

 

Here are a few things from this passage that I find helpful.

1. Disciple-making Disciples… Disciple.  “What you have heard from me.”
This may seem repetitive, but I really think it’s important.  Paul expects Timothy to be able to disciple others because he has been discipled by Paul.  He has been given an example.  You see, Paul’s discipleship process looked a good deal like Jesus’ discipleship process.  Sharing life together over an extended period of time.  Discipleship is not a short term commitment in a classroom setting.  It is a willingness to honestly provide a living example of a life well lived for the glory of God, both in the good and in the bad.  This is what Paul tells Timothy to “entrust” to faithful men.  What he has heard, seen, and experienced from his time with Paul.  If we want to make disciples who make disciples, we must give them an example from which to learn.  This takes time, commitment, honesty, and purpose.


2. Disciple-making Disciples… disciple in Biblical Community.
in the presence of many witnesses”
Discipleship was never intend to be experienced in a vacuum.  In fact, discipleship is best realized in the context of the church…(the people not the building).  When we make disciples we need to do so in biblical community so that disciples will feel the need for such community in the future.  God has made us to function as a body for His glory and this is only possible by “doing life” together with other believers.


3. Disciple-making Disciples… choose disciples carefully.
entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
In this part of the verse, Paul instructs Timothy to be careful who he disciples.  We know this because he gives Timothy two characteristics to look for when he is determining who to disciple.  The first qualification is that they are faithful men.  So how can you tell if someone is faithful?  My answer is that you must be able to see evidence of a “lived out” faith over a period of time.  Look for those who are already being faithful and help them continue to walk the path of faithfulness through discipleship.  The second qualification is that “they will be able to teach others.”  One of the main goals of making disciples is that the process of discipleship will continue.  When we are looking for someone to disciple, we should stop and ask ourselves whether or not the investment that we make in their life will be shared with others.  With this said, please remember that you and I do not have clear enough vision to attempt this process on our own.  We must bathe every decision in prayer and allow the Spirit the right to override our opinions.  In the end though, you only have a limited amount of time and investing well is an absolute must.

 

Learning to be disciple-making disciples is a long-term process, but it can begin today.
Take time and answer these questions.

Who are my disciples? (Hint: If you are a parent, this list should include your children.)

If those whom I disciple replicated what they see in me, would I be pleased?

How am I showing the value of the church to my disciples?

Have I been careful to choose disciples who will continue the discipleship with others?
(This question does not include your family, you have been called by God to disciple them.)

 

 

P.S.
In this passage, Paul is focusing specifically on the discipleship of potential leaders who are already in the church.  This does not mean that there is not a place for starting intentional discipling relationships with those who do not know Christ.  It is just simply not the immediate subject of this passage.
That kind of discpleship will be the subject of another post.

Teaching Difficult Passages

If we teach the Bible for any length of time, we will invariably find our way to passages that are challenging to teach and apply. Sometimes, this is the case because it is difficult to understand exactly what God is saying in the passage. Other times, however, we may understand exactly what God is saying, but may be unsure of how to present it to others.

As you prepare to teach, here are some questions that you must consider.

Will I skirt the issue the text addresses just to please those who listen?
Will I use the Word of God as a sledgehammer, wrecking through the lives of my audience?
Or will I labor to find the Spirit-led middle way?

As you can see from the wording of my questions, I clearly believe that we should all labor to find the Spirit-led middle way. I use the word “labor” intentionally. This is not an easy task, and it is not for the faint of heart. You have been given a trust as a teacher of the Bible, and difficult passages require great effort in both study and prayer.

As you study and pray, I would like to share a few insights that I have picked up concerning the task of teaching difficult passages. I pray that these will be encouraging and that they will spur you on to even greater effort as you continue to labor to bring the Word of God to the people that you teach.

Don’t Forget the Great Commandment (or its order!)

In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked which is the greatest commandment in the Law. Jesus answered this question by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18; Love God and Love People. As you prepare to teach, think through this command in its proper order.

First of all, love God. The greatest way that you can love God when you are teaching difficult passages is to teach what the text teaches without apology, condition, or qualification. You must teach what the Bible teaches. Pick that up and hold it in your right hand.

Second, love People. The greatest way that you can love people is to communicate the truth of God’s Word in a way that they will receive. The last part of the previous sentence is the key, and it takes great effort, honesty, and submission to the leadership of the Spirit of God. People need to hear the truth of God, and we as teachers have the responsibility to do all that we can to help them receive it. Pick that up and hold it in your left hand.

Now, keeping both of those commands firmly in hand; study, pray, and teach.

Give the Word the chance to Offend

When we faithfully teach the Bible, there will be people who get offended. This is not a problem, unless the reason for the offense is the teacher and not the Bible. Like it or not, the vast majority of effective communication is wrapped up in how we say what we say. Don’t be afraid to say things that will offend, but do your best to say them in the least offensive way possible. That may mean that you begin by honestly talking about the difficulty of the text. It may mean that you begin the discussion with a group decision to believe the Bible no matter what it says. Whatever you do, simply take the time to consider what you are saying from the receiver’s perspective, and then do your best to communicate the message without doing injustice to the text. If they are going to be offended, let it be the Word that offends, not you.

Never Let Your Experience Direct Your Theology

This last principle has been very helpful to me as I have read and taught through the scriptures. The foundation of this principle is found in the reality that our experience is finite and the Word of God is infinite. In other words, the perspective of our experience is very limited and should never be trusted over and above the revelation of scripture. Here is an example of where this principle might be important. For example, when dealing with the subject of divorce, some of you will have people in your group who have had an unbiblical divorce and are now happily remarried. To these individuals the idea that it would have been better for them to remain in their previous marriage may seem outlandishly silly. Why? Their experience is directing their theology. They feel happy now and cannot imagine the same happiness in their previous marriage. Praise God that He is able to do far more than we can possibly hope or imagine. Even if we cannot imagine it, we must trust in the truth of God’s Word. To be honest, there are times that I look around our world and fail to see the sovereign rule of our good God. Nevertheless, I unwaveringly believe it.