Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Bait of Satan - Chapter 5 - Book Discussion

The Bait of Satan, Chapter 5 - How Spiritual Vagabonds Are Born

In Chapter 5 of The Bait of Satan, we are dealing with leadership, particularly leadership in the church and in ministries.

We begin this chapter by quickly reviewing what we learned in Chapter 4. David could have taken the life of Saul, and it appeared that he would have been justified in doing so. Instead, he rightly chose not kill Saul and allowed God to justly deal with the situation.

We often look to avenge ourselves in our own way and in our own terms rather than allowing God to avenge us. God will often place us in situations where it appears that we are justified in avenging ourselves. He does this in order to test our obendience. We are to remember that God commands us not to seek revenge.

While we are to correct those we are in a leadership position over, we are not to correct those in authority over us (church leaders, pastors, ministry leaders, etc.)

It is imperative that we stay where God plants us so that we can grow and flourish (God wants us to stay in the church he has planted us in.) We are to face adversity by deepening our roots and relying on Him for strength. He does not desire for us to uproot ourselves and flee the situation. Eventually, as we grow and strengthen, adversity, tribulation and persecution will actually cause us to bear fruit.

If we flee adversity and refuse to face conflicts, we become spiritual vagabonds, darting from place to place (church to church) rootless and unable to bear fruit. We become suspicious and believe that everyone is out to get us. We isolate ourselves and continue in the same cycle of offense over and over again.

Chapter 5 - Key Points/Bible Verses:

1 Samuel 24:6 - 7 - God tested David to see if he would take Saul's life. From a human perspective, David would have been justified in doing so. From God's perspective, only He is to seek vengeance.

Romans 12:19 - God orders us not to avenge ourselves; He will avenge us.

1 Samuel 2-5 - God put Samuel under the authority of Eli and Eli's sons, all of whom were corrupt.

1 Samuel 3:1 - Samuel ministered to the Lord and served Eli and did not judge him. He knew that God was capable of judging and dealing with His own.

Isaiah 55:12 - If we are to leave a church, we are to leave in joy and peace, not in offense.

1 Corinthians 12:18 - God has placed us in the church He wants us to be in.

Proverbs 26:20 - Even when the correct information is being passed around, it tends to add fuel to the fire of offense.

Psalm 92:13 - You can only flourish if you stay where God has planted you. When trees and plants are faced with the harsh elements, they deepen their roots which makes them stronger and more durable. We are to do the same when faced with adversity.

Luke 13:6-9 - God does not want us to be like a tree that does not bear fruit.

Psalm 1:1-2 - Choosing to meditate on the law of God during adversity will keep us from offense.

Psalm 119:165 - Loving the law of God will keep us on the right path and prevent us from being offended.

Psalm 1:3 - When we meditate on the law of God, our roots will deepen and seek nourishment and strength from the Spirit. We will be like a tree that bears fruit and prospers.

Mark 4:16-17 - Those without roots will stumble when faced with adversity or persecution.

Genesis 4:11-12 - God told Cain the ground he tilled would be barren and fruitless because he sinned and murdered his brother; When living in offense, Christians also cut off their ability to bear fruit. God told Cain he would become a fugitive and a vagabond; Offended Christians also become fugitives and vagabonds by purposely isolating themselves from others.

Genesis 4:14 - Cain became a vagabond with an "everyone's out to get me" mentality. Offended people have the same mindset.

Proverbs 18:1 - When we isolate ourselves from others, we seek after our own selfish desires, not Gods.

Day 9 and Day 10 - Devotionals:

Days 9 & 10, in the devotional at the back of the book, cover Chapter 5 of The Bait of Satan.

Day 9

Think of a time when you took vengeance into your own hands and did not wait upon God. Describe the situation and its outcome or consequences.

I'm really not one to take revenge or to try to get even. My dominant reaction to offense is to shut people out, and at the extreme level, refuse to have anything to do with them. Anytime that I have refused a relationship with someone has resulted in years of bitterness and resentment at my own hands.

Give yourself the following test:

1. Do I run from God's refining power? We are only given the choices of yes or no, but in this case, I have to answer sometimes.
2. Do I complain when under pressure? Again, sometimes, depending on what the situation is. I'm working on it.
3. Do I justify my sin and condemn sin in others. Sometimes.
4. Do I expect spiritual leaders to be perfect when I am not? No.
5. Am I willing to listen to God and wait on His leading? Yes.
6. Read Isaiah 55:12. Am I willing to live in peace? Yes.

Write a prayer asking Jesus to be your perfect Shepherd and to fill you with His love for the human shepherds He has placed in your life.

Dear Jesus, You are my perfect Shepherd and no person can come close to comparing to your goodness and righteousness. Help me to love and respect the human shepherds that you have placed in my life despite their shortcomings. Amen.

Day 10

List all the churches to which you have belonged in the past 10 years:

I have not belonged to a church since young adulthood. I have made the choice to no longer attend a physical church primarily because I am hard of hearing and unable to follow along at a regular church service. I take advantage of ministries on TV that offer closed captioning. I consider myself to be a member of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, because John Hagee is my preferred TV minister and because I was baptized by his church last summer.

If you have changed churches, why?

When I was 20, I left the church that I had attended since age 11 due to a number of reasons:

  • I believed that the church taught and pushed doctrine that wasn't biblically-based.

  • The youth pastor at the church had a tendency to hang out with the popular kids and ignored the not-so-popular kids (the group I was in). He had personally treated me rudely a number of times.

  • Most of the church members were rude and snobbish and I perceived they looked down on me.

  • The church seemed money-focused and not Christ-focused.

I felt that I was stagnant in that church. I dreaded going and eventually just quit going at all. In truth, by leaving that church, I also left my faith behind for a number of years.

Looking back, it is obvious that I was offended by the behavior of people in leadership and other members, but I also feel that it was more than just offense. It was a situation where the church put it's own beliefs and doctrine above the Bible. And while giving and tithing is indeed very important, the church chose to focus on money issues far more than teaching the Word of God.

Read the following scriptures, and then jot down what they have to say about the relationship between God's law, offense, spiritual growth and bearing fruit.

Psalm 1:1-3 - He who delights in the law of God and meditates on it day and night will be like a properous tree that bears fruit.

Psalm 119:165 - Great peace comes to those who love the law of God and nothing causes them to stumble.

Mark 4:16-17 - Those without roots endure for only a short time, then stumble when tribulation or persecution strikes.

List 5 benefits that come to you when you refuse to take up an offense and are planted in a church fellowship:

1. We will grow spiritually.
2. We will deepen our roots and become stable or grounded.
3. We will not stumble and we will be able to face adversity.
4. We will bear fruit and prosper.
5. We will rely on God for strength.

Write a prayer thanking God for the church He has planted you in and asking Him to mature and prosper you there.

Dear Father, while I am not able to physically attend Cornerstone church, I do consider myself to be a member of that church and I believe You have a reason for placing me in that church. Help me to stand strong and allow my roots to grow deeply there. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Chapter 5 - My Thoughts

While I do agree with most of what the author says in this chapter, and appreciate his insight, I question his teaching that we should stay in a church no matter what. What if the teachings of the church are not biblically-based? What if the church is consistently caving into political-correctness? What if there is clergy sex abuse in the church?

Perhaps these situations are outside the scope of offense that John Bevere is covering right now. Or maybe he is saying that we are to stay in our church even if these things are occuring. After all, he did bring up the fact that Eli's sons were committing fornication with the women assembled at the door of the tabernacle, which I guess would be comparible to clergy sex abuse.

Does anyone have any words of wisdom or insight on this issue?

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Anonymous said...

This was a chapter that was particularly applicable to me. At one point, about 5 or 6 years ago, I let myself get caught up in the gossip and finger pointing that was going on in my church.

I had my own opinion about the matter (that was just the opposite of everyone else) but instead of following what I knew was right, I allowed myself to fall into the offense trap and gone the crowd. I wish I never had!

It all worked out OK in the end, but still - I'm an adult with the ability to make up my own mind. I should have never blindly followed others just because I didn't want to be different.

I've been a member of 1 church for the past 12 years and before that was a member of my previous church for about the same amount of time.

When my husband and I moved, we had to find a new church because it would have taken 45 minutes to 1 hour (one way) to drive to the previous church.

While I do agree that we should not let offenses dictate our changes in churches, I don't agree that you should stay if you're not getting spiritually fed. Many denominations send preachers and pastors to the various churches. You don't get a say. Other denominations have search committees (like ours) that go out and look for the "right" preacher for the church.

I know that the preacher we had before our current one was selected simply because the committee had been looking for almost a year and was simply tired. That man didn't last very long at all. He just wasn't the one God wanted for our church and it was obvious right from the start. A lot of people left because their spiritual needs weren't being met. I have no way of knowing if Father told them it was OK to go. But many did leave.

You have to be careful in a formal church environment. It can get very political at times and feelings can be hurt tremendously and offenses can run rampant.

Viki, I had about the same answers as you did for the exercises (except that I go to church in a building) so I won't bother to post them.

VanessaDJones said...

I haven't read the book but I wanted to comment because it's an issue facing a lot of Christians and others don't give it a second thought. They stay wherever they are. I always think of how Paul started his letters, "To the saints" or to "the church" not a denomination or a class of people.

I left main stream church because I was tired of seeing the marketing and hollywood stuff going on.

Whenever I have left a church it was because of a lack of sound doctrine or situations that could not be resolved. If a church's main joy and foundational ministries are not the Word and prayer it has no holy glue to hold it together.

Anonymous said...

It's true we shouldn't leave the church everytime there's a problem, but it is really difficult when you are the object of a snobbish Sunday school leader and small group leader. I'm in a situation where for some reason, unknown to me, my leader is just plain rude to me. No common courtesies, no good mornings, quick and nervous yes or nos when he has to talk to me, and major avoidance of me. It's really hurtful and I've been tempted to leave many times because I know I can't control the situation, but I try to hang in there at great cost to me. I don't know this man well, but the snubbing is obvious and consistent. How do you hang in there for the sake of showing the love of Christ when you can expect bruises everytime you go to Sunday school or your small group? I've had to pray daily that God help me not to get angry, but honestly I don't know what to do and I've had enough. I cannot take anything he says seriously in class or small group because of this serious lack of simple kindness and courtesies. Unfortunately, he isn't this way with others that I can tell.