Uncaged

     I wanted to take some time to write from a perspective that you may or may not have. This is not about starting a disagreement, but only to hopefully get you to look at things from another angle.  Often times our perspective of something leads us to believe the way we do, and oftentimes we won’t open our thoughts to a different perspective.  I understand that this perspective will not be recieved by all, because I am specifically looking at it from the stand point of being a Christian.  With that being said, let us dive in.
     Thousands of years ago God created the heavens and the earth and he eventually made man and then made a woman from the man. He put them in a garden with many trees that produced fruit, and they could almost eat of all of them without consequence, but there was this one tree that God specifically told them not to eat of which was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Guess what? They ate of the tree that they were not suppose to eat of and it held some drastic consequences that affected not only them but many others that would come after them.  Now you may ask, if God knew they were going to eat of the tree, then why did He put it there?  I believe that there is a simple answer to that.  God wanted man to have the freedom of choice, and God wanted man to choose to be obedient to Him.  He didn’t want to control man, but God wanted man to have the freedom to choose.  That is the beauty of God’s love that He doesn’t seek to control us, but desires for us to choose to follow Him.
     With that being said, imagine a bird that is in a cage, and all that bird will know as long as it is in the cage is just what lies there in that confinement.  It will never know what it is like to sit on a tree branch and sing.  It will never know what it is like to fly or even soar through the open sky.  There are many things that this bird will not get to experience.  So as long as the bird is caged, it will never really live.  Imagine that bird is set free. It will get to experience life to the fullest. He will have the freedom to come and go as He chooses.  Are there dangers with the bird be in the wild? Of course there is but that is a part of being free.
      Here is what I am trying to convey. I know that there are many views about governors and the president making the very difficult decision to begin reopening the economy.  Here is the beauty in that, they are giving you true freedom, because you have the freedom to come and go as you choose.  Are there dangers out there? Yes there are, but you have the freedom to choose to go or to stay. The freedom of choice is the pinnacle of true freedom.  Before someone misinterprets what I am saying, I am not talking about abortion. Becoming pregnant is a result of a choice, but I do not believe that someone should get to choose abortion without consequences.  However, I would like to say that it amazes me of how many pro-choice people are against the freedom to make their own choice when it comes to the health of their own life reguarding the current pandemic.
     Again, I want to make it clear that this is just one perspective that maybe you have not considered.  Just because some things are reopening doesn’t mean you have to participate.  However, why should you expect the governor or president to make a decision for you? Now you are able to make that decision for yourself.  Just as you must make an eternal decision. All that is going on is temporal, but what about eternal life?  Their is decision that YOU MUST make reguarding your own life and the results of that decision are eternal.  The decision is whether or not you will choose to become a firm believer and follower of Christ.  No one else can govern your decision but you. What is it going to be today? If you don’t know Christ, will you make the decision to know Him today?  I love you all!!

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You Are The Church

     In the middle of all that is going on in our society and around the world right now, it is high time that the church, body of Christ, become united.  It is disheartening for me to go on social media and see people in the church bickering and maybe even being harsh about whether churches should hold physical services or not. There are arguments or disagreements going on from both perspectives.  Some may not even be arguments, but they are statements that can bring harm or hurt to other fellow Christians and maybe the individual posting them may not even realize that they are doing it.  While I even have my own views and perspectives, I don’t believe that we should share them, because these are uncertain times for many, and the worst thing we can do as brothers and sisters in Christ is cause or stir division within the church.  In other words if you see a church having church and you believe they shouldn’t, then just don’t say anything especially on social media where even unbelievers are going to see the discord in the church.  If you see a church not having service and you disagree, it would be best to say nothing on social media for all to see.  If you are going to do anything, then I would recommend having a private message with the leaders of said church.  I would also encourage you to not make statements on social media that are indirectly pointed at church leaders and specific churches.  This is not helping anything, but if anything may be secretly causing and stirring anger in hearts of churches, leaders, and other brothers and sisters in Christ all the while unbelievers are seeing this unfold. 
     You may ask, “what can we do?”  That is a great question. One of the first things that you can do is simply pray.  Pray for government officials, church leaders, and churches that God would direct them, and that they would be sensitive to the Spirit of God in these times.  Let us seek to unify the church.  If your church is holding a physical service but you don’t feel to go, then don’t go but also don’t speak your opinion about them holding a service. If they offer livestreaming then join in and watch. If your church is only offering livestreaming, then join in if at all possible, and participate in whatever way you church is offering. 
     There is one big thing that you can do and that is realize the regardless church is not a building, it is YOU!!!  As I was thinking about writing this a quote came up in my memories on Facebook, and it was a quote for Duncan Campbell. It says, “the kingdom of God is not going to be advanced by our churches becoming filled with men, but by men in our churches becoming filled with God.”  Jesus said in Luke 17:21 that the kingdom of God is within you.  You have to realize that YOU ARE THE CHURCH. It is not the building you attend, or the name on the sign of the building that you attend, but it is you and other brothers and sisters in Christ.  When you leave the building on Sunday, if you are in Christ and Christ in you, then the church leaves with you.  We are all commissioned to Go!! However, if we are bickering and simply complaining about something as simple as whether we are to hold a physical service, then are we really being the church. In 1 Corinthians 1, it says to not let there be ANY divisions among you.  So in this trying time, go be the light and shed encouragement and the good news to all instead of discord.  In this time many unbelievers are searching for something real,  let us be the church we are called to be and show them the light of Christ’s Love.

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What Are the Biblical Qualifications of a Church Leader?

Do you feel called to be a pastor, teacher, prophet, evangelist, or maybe even an apostle?  Have you ever considered what the Bible may have to say about the qualifications for such a position.   While Paul writes about the qualifications of others as well, in this post, I want to specifically look at the qualifications of a church leader which could be any of those 5 roles or  an elder or even a bishop. I am not going to get into the differences of those in this post, but just focus on the qualifications to hold such a position within the church.
    For the sake of this post, I want to share from what Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. It reads, “This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position.” So a church leader 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?A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.[d] Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.”(NLT)
   As we read this, it helps us have a clear picture of what is expected of a church leader. Each of these should be attributes of the one who is being asked to lead.  These qualifications, I believe, should be general qualifications across the entirety of the Body of Christ. Let us take a closer look at each of these starting with being above reproach, like what does that even mean?  The King James says that he must be one who is blameless.  In other words he must have a clean slate and unable to be charged with an offense, not because he is above the law or an offense but because he strives to live a pure and reputable life.  
   Secondly, we see that he must be faithful to his wife, or as in the greek he must be the husband of one wife.  It is important that his relationship with his wife is in right standing. He must not be an adulterer.  As we look into being the husband of one wife, we should look at this from two angels. The first is that he only has one wife at a time, and the second is that he should have only been married to one wife within his lifetime.  With that being said, I do believe there is grace for those who were married and divorced before becoming a believer.  It may be better stated that he only has one wife since becoming a believer in Christ. 
   He also must exercise self-control and not be easily swayed or given to temptation.  In line with this, he must live wisely, and make the best decisions possible which in turn will give him a good reputation.  I believe along with self-control that he shouldn’t easily get angry, and have a strong will to abstain from that which appears evil and ungodly.  
   He must also be extremely hospitable and enjoy having people in his home. He should be a lover of people and enjoy having them around.  He must also be able to teach as the Spirit leads, and study to teach the Word of God rightly.
   The next qualification has to do with drinking and can bring about some questions, and can be somewhat unclear as to the expectation of a church leader drinking.  What I do believe is quiet clear is that he should never in any case become drunk. However, the question of whether a church leader can drink at all is not clear.  What we don know is that in the Greek, there are different phrases used to address this issue for a bishop and to address this issue about a deacon.  The King James seems to put it as the bishop should not be given to wine, and the deacon should not be given to much wine.  See the difference.  However, when studying this, I see where it could be translated both ways.  While, I believe the standard may be higher for a bishop or church leader, I also see where there could be a place to  somewhat “justify” having a drink every so often. This must be brought to the conviction of ones heart and the organization through which one is seeking to be ordained.
   The next few qualifications all fall in line with one another. He must not be violent,  but gentle and abstain from fighting.  He must also not be greedy or love money.  We have heard about ministers taking or embezzling money from the church, that is why we must be careful who we appoint.  If they can’t handle their own money well, then that should be a red flag as to whether they can handle the money of the church well.
   We should also be able to see that a church leader is able to manage his own house well.  There should ultimately be peace in his house, and he should love and disclipline his children according to scripture.  This is important because if he can’t lead and manage his household well, and if he can’t love them well, how in the world is he going to manage the house of God?
   We see that he also must not be a new believer but he should have a history of being a faithful follower of Christ.  You don’t give a toddler the keys to a corvette, so why should we give a new believer the authority to manage and oversee the house of God. He should have first cultivated his relationship with Christ, and that should be seen through the life he lives before having the responsibility of a church leader placed on him. 
   Lastly, people outside of the church should speak well of him. This goes along with having a good reputation.  While people outside of the church may not agree with all that we believe, they can tell through the love of Christ shining through us that something is different, and when that love is being displayed to them even though they disagree, it leads to be reputable.
   As you can see, the position of being a church leader is not to be taken lightly.  It is a big responsibility, and I do believe there is a higher standard for church leaders.  If this is something you feel called to do, please check through the biblical qualifications to see if your life is in line with what the Bible says.  The Bible does say that if you desire the position, then you desire a good thing. Spend time cultivating your relationship with Christ and He will lead you. God Bless!!

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Church Planting and Firehouse Network

          I want to take a little time to elaborate on what the current church planting model will look like for Firehouse and what the network of Firehouse Church could potentially look like. While at the time of the writing of this blog, there are no finite locations as to where we feel the next church plant will be, we can still paint somewhat of a picture as to the process and end result. We must understand that what is being shared is only a result of what we do with the seed right now. It is currently in seed form and needs to be nurtured and watered with the Word of God and prayer. If we continue to be sensitive to the Spirit and obedient to God’s direction, it is then that He will make the plant what it needs to be. 
          The first step will be to establish a team of passionate individuals. These individuals should be first and foremost be passionate about their relationship with Christ, and secondly be passion and motivated about starting a new work for Him.  They must feel as if they are answering His call for them to go on this journey.   We will need a team that consist of but not limited to a lead campus pastor, worship pastor, family pastor, hospitality team members, nursery and kids church team members, musicians, and media team member.  This team should be able to work well with one another as they move forward in the journey.  The lead campus pastor must become ordained or at least licensed through Firehouse Church, but eventually achieve ordination.  The team will meet 2-4 times per month to prepare for the eventual launch of the church plant.
          Under the current model of planting for Firehouse, the church plant will operate as an extension and not as an entirely different entity.  It will be under the same governing board, potentially share bank accounts, and also have access to all the tools that Firehouse currently utilizes and pays for.  It will be one church and one fellowship meeting in different locations.  The board of directors for Firehouse Church will oversee the entirety of network fellowships. However, each individual fellowship will most likely have an operations committee that will be appointed by the lead campus pastor to help him oversee the local fellowship. It would be idea that eventually the board of directors be made up of the Lead pastor and the lead campus pastors.  
          To help understand a little more of how the network of churches will be intertwined, I want to use this small example.  Firehouse currently uses a church management software to record contributions, do child check in, and post events.  The same account will be shared amongst all network churches.  In other works if you attend Firehouse Elberton and check your child in, then when you attend another campus your child will already be in the system.  The idea is that it is seamless integration.  Your tithing will be recorded across all Firehouse network churches so that you will recieve one contribution report.  The network will partner together for outreach endeavors and conferences and such.
          I hope that this brings a little more insight into what the future holds for our Firehouse family of believers.  We also hope that you will be in prayer about this journey, and that you will believe with us for God’s perfect will to be done as we move forward. If you would like to be a part of one of the plant teams, please let us know. May God Bless you and yours!

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The Importance of Prayer

16 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.
James 5:16 New Living Translation (NLT)
 
     Prayer is a vital part of walking out our relationship with Christ.  Simply put prayer is communication with God.  If we don’t have communication, then how can we have a true relationship.  Relationships require communication.   Imagine a husband never communicating with his wife, or a wife never communicating with her husband, how do you think that would work out?  Jesus desires for us to pray.  Prayer is one of the most important ways that we can grow into a more intimate relationship with Christ.  If prayer is simply communication with God, is there a certain way that we must pray, do we need to pray long, and how exactly do we pray?
     There are many reasons to pray.  We pray to thank God for all He has done, is doing, and will do.  We pray to repent and ask for forgiveness of our sins.  We pray for healing, freedom, and deliverance.  We can make our requests known to Christ.  We are to pray and intercede for others.  We should pray when everything is going good, and when things aren’t going so good.  The thing is we should not only pray when things are not going good and hardships are upon us, but we are to pray at all times and seasons of our life.  One minister talked about not asking God to come into a hard situation, but already having communed with God when everything was going good and then we walk with Him through the situation.  Talk to God about everything.  God is not to busy to hear from you, the truth is, He wants to hear from you.
     It is important to note that prayer isn’t about the posture of your body as much as it is about the posture of your heart.  Prayer isn’t confined to you being on your knees with your head bowed.  Prayer can be done while you are driving in the car, while you are at work, or even when you are cleaning the house.  It is not about how you pray, but from where you pray, and your prayers should come from your heart.  You can pray ritualistically and pray a lot, but if it isn’t sincere then you are babbling words that will have little to no effect.  If you pray ritualistically, it favors religion more than it favors a relationship with Jesus.  It is not even about the quantity, but it is about the quality.  Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6 that is not about being seen and it is not even about repeating our requests over and over.  Jesus says that the heathen think they will be heard for the much speaking, but Jesus says that the Father knows what you have need of even before you ask.  This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pray, but that you should be sincere and believe He hears the first time that you ask.
     It is not even about the lingo when you pray.  It is not about praying the deep voice prayer with eloquent words like maybe you have heard some minister pray.  It is about you opening your heart to God, and seeking Him with all that you are.  He loves you, and He desires a relationship with you.  Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock.  We are to make our request known to Him as well as thank Him for who He is and all He has done.  Prayer should not be a task but we should be hungry to want to get to know God more.  Through prayer and the reading and studying of God’s word, we can come to know Jesus more, and have a more intimate relationship with Him.
 

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What is Christianity?

 
 
When it comes to sports, each sport has some basic skills that each player should know.  These are called the fundamentals.  In football, you need to know to wrap up on a tackle, and in basketball, you have to know how to do a basic layup.  These fundamentals and others are important for players to know, no matter what level they are playing at.  If we want to maintain a healthy relationship with Christ, we too must know the fundamentals of our faith to help us in our journey.  These fundamentals are the basic things that we should know when walking out our relationship with Christ.
     Did you know that there are more that 20% of professed Christians who cannot say they are certain that there is a God? How can a person profess to be a Christian, but not be certain?  If I am not mistaken, a majority of Americans label themselves as Christians,  but just because they label themselves that way doesn’t necessarily mean that they are.  That leads to the question, What is a Christian anyway?  A Christian, simply put, is a follower of Christ and His teachings.  Even more so, a true Christian is not just a follower but one who has completely surrendered their life to Christ.  One writer in scripture writes that it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.  A Christian is a person who has willingly surrendered to Christ, and by doing so have allowed old things to die, and awaken to new life in Christ.  When Christ becomes the center of your life, it leads to transformation.
     Let’s look at Matthew 3:7-9, “But when he saw many coming from among the wealthy elite of Jewish society[a] and many of the religious leaders known as Pharisees[b] coming to witness the baptism, he began to denounce them, saying, “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to slither away like snakes from the fire of God’s judgment?[c] You must prove your repentance by a changed life. And don’t presume you can get away with merely saying to yourselves, ‘But we’re Abraham’s descendants!’ For I tell you, God can awaken these stones to become sons of Abraham!”(TPT)  I want you to notice what John the Baptist tells the Pharisees here. He says that they must prove their repentance by a changed life and that they can’t just get away by saying that they are the descendants of Abraham.  In other words, just saying your a Christian isn’t enough.  Being a Christian leads to a life that has been transformed.  Old things have passed away!  Your desires begin to be transformed to God’s desires.  You began to be convicted about things that use to not bother you.  This is the sign of a transformation to a pure heart.  We become awakened to the leading of the Spirit.  Romans 8:14 tells us that all who are led by the Spirit are the Children of God.
     The truth is people can go to hell with baptismal water dripping from their face, they can go to hell with a choir robe on,  they can even go to hell preaching behind a pulpit,  but a true Christian is one who has a relationship with Jesus, and because of that relationship, their life is being transformed to be more like HIm!!

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