Please enjoy the video book trailer for Parting Ways and visit the Author's Website for the latest news and updates. Parting Ways is set for release on April 18, 2011.
Parting Ways is an inspirational Christian story about an ambitious minister who must choose between truth and integrity or money and fame. His decision costs him his mega-church ministry. How would any of us handle a difficult decision like that? How might God make his will known in that kind of situation?
Please enjoy the video book trailer for Parting Ways and visit the Author's Website for the latest news and updates. Parting Ways is set for release on April 18, 2011.
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How To Start A Ministry
Good News! Starting a ministry is easy! It's easy because the very heart of ministry is serving people. It's not about stages and expensive programs; it's about people. Yes, starting a ministry is easy, but real ministry requires brutal honesty about our goals and our motives.
Here are some questions we should ask ourselves before starting a ministry:
“Is God leading me to do this or is it just me wanting to do this?”
Let's use the disciples of Christ as an example. Were Peter and the others searching the Help Wanted ads when Jesus called them? No, they were gainfully employed when Christ came to them...
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-20)
Jesus called them into his ministry, he didn't ask them what they'd like to do for the Kingdom of God. We should ask ourselves, "What does God want?" Then, find that answer in the scriptures which we'll get to in just a moment.
“Who will get the glory?”
There sure are a lot of enterprises called “ministries” today with someone's personal name attached to them. “Dr. Rev. So And So's Ministry.” Contrast that with the numerous times Jesus healed someone and then told them to be quiet about it. If we're looking for bright lights and recognition, we're probably being moved by our own spirit and not the Holy Ghost.
“Will we keep at this ministry if no one else helps?”
I've seen folks over the years get quickly excited about starting a ministry, but then get quickly discouraged – even bitter - when others didn't jump up and down and get excited with them. They seem to think if God was talking to them, surely God was talking to everyone. That is not the case at all!
Jesus Christ preached truth, healed the sick, and raised the dead and most people still walked away shaking their heads. Then when he was being crucified, all of his disciples forsook him and got out of Dodge! Should we expect anything else? One big test of the validity of ministry is whether we'll still be at it when things get tough, or if we're alone in our endeavors. Ministry is about obedience and service, not about how many others help out or donate. If God has led us to a task, he will provide!
May I make a few suggestions about starting a ministry?
First, get into the Word. The more I read the scriptures the more I find that people didn't go out and start ministries; they preached the Word. Consider the final commands of Christ to his disciples:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)
In Acts, we see this repeated pattern: The word was preached and disciples were multiplied (Acts 6:7) Sounds like God was blessing their obedience. From there, opportunities to serve arose. This is how all ministries should all begin! That's how the role of deacons was established in Acts chapter six. Understanding our spiritual gifting and place in the church will develop as we read, study, and teach the Word.
If our ministry doesn't grow out from the Word, should we really call it a "ministry?" Maybe we should call our neat project, "Our Neat Project" instead of our "ministry."
If we're chomping at the bit to “do something for God” then let's teach Bible Studies! Let God bless our obedience and open the doors. Otherwise, we might be doing our own thing and just attaching “God” to it. That is not ministry. It might be slander!
In my Christian Fiction novel Parting Ways, I write about a minister who chooses to follow God according to the scriptures, and loses his mega-church ministry! But God blesses him in an unexpected way as he obeys and preaches the Word. He learns how to start a ministry from the Word first, not a program first.
Let's take this instruction from Paul to heart and start our ministries off right:
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
(2 Timothy 4:1-2)
Thinking of an online ministry? Check Out Gospel Preaching Online - How To Preach To More People
Let's Test Ourselves
whether ye be in the faith;
prove your own selves...
2 Corinthians 13:5
We check ourselves out in the mirror before heading off to work. Hair looks good, no broccoli in the teeth, etc., Thank God for mirrors! They're helpful, but they don't go below the surface. That takes some deeper introspection and honesty. Have I even thought about the Lord today? Have I sought him once about my plans for the week? Good questions.
One of the things I hope to accomplish in an entertaining way with my Christian Fiction novel, Parting Ways, is to challenge readers to examine their walk with God. Do we really live what we believe? Do we even know what we believe and why? Have we ever disagreed with a church teaching? If so, what did we do about it?
I've heard some things preached that completely contradicted the very scriptures the preacher was referencing. What??? Unfortunately, most church gatherings are not designed for discussions. It's all one way. God forbid anyone question the pastor! But that's what we should do. If anyone preaches or teaches openly, they should be accountable for it openly. I can guarantee you this: There would be less bad doctrine taught if a preacher knew he was going to face questioning from knowledgeable elders.
We should all have a working knowledge of the scriptures. Paul wrote to Timothy, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)
In Parting Ways, I tell a story about an ambitious young pastor whose unique talents bring him before huge crowds in his denomination. He quickly rises through the church ranks, but the more he studies the Word and gets closer to God, the more he clashes with church leadership. On the edge of being promoted to his dream position in front of a global audience, he's forced to make a difficult choice - a choice that could end his ministry for good.
The story is fictional, but denominational doctrines not squaring with the Bible is all too real. Jesus chided the Pharisees because they taught for doctrine the commandments of men. Let's not be guilty of doing that. Let's be guilty of hearing and doing what Christ and the apostles taught even if we must part ways with traditions. It's the truth that makes us free - if we know it - not the denominational handbooks or Rev. Blackwell's Commentaries.
Examining ourselves starts with the word. Can we find our way in the scriptures? Are we walking by the light of the Word or by the light of the world? Here's a thought, let's read over this scripture the next time we get in front of the mirror...
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.(1 John 2:15-17)
Are we in the faith? Can we prove it?
UPDATE: The cover for Parting Ways has been selected and the book is getting formatted now. Lord willing it will be ready for release Monday, April 18th, 2011. Please visit PatrickSipperly.com for the latest news and updates.
Thanks for helping me spread the word out about Parting Ways and ChristianHomeChurch.com
Christian Fiction Book Cover Poll
As many of you know, I'm working on a Christian Fiction novel. I have two cover designs I'm considering and would like your opinion. Here's your chance to help me decide which cover to use. Please go the Parting Ways Blog page and participate in the cover design poll. Your vote matters! Thanks for helping me to decide and please invite your friends to help me decide too!
Earthquakes In The Last Days
Earthquakes have this way of putting everything into perspective, don't they? In a mere moment, mighty man and all of his inventions and knowledge are brought to rubble. Thousands of lives are forever altered by a single, devastating event. Makes one stop and think about what's important...
Jesus prophesied of great earthquakes as a sign of the end times. The disciples asked, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:4-8)
Jesus didn't answer the question about the end times with how to reinforce our houses, how to position ourselves to make gains in the stock market or to where to move to avoid these last days earthquakes. Rather, Jesus addresses our soul starting with, “Take heed that no man deceive you...”
We should be ready always at all times to meet our maker, because our personal world could change in the blink of an eye by simply driving to work. Here is a dose of perspective:
Reports from Toyko say that the death toll from the March 11, 2001
magnitude-8.9 earthquake in Japan could exceed 10,000.
According to Car-Accidents.com, between 2002 – 2005,
the average number of deaths from automobile accidents
EVERY YEAR in the United States: 42,698.
Now back to our every day world... Can we see a little bit of ourselves in this parable?
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:16-21)
Biblical earthquakes and other world events grab our attention and remind us that we are living in the last days. The Lord's return is closer now than ever before and we should be ready to meet him. How can we be ready? Remember how Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you?” How do we avoid deception? By taking responsibility for our own faith. Have a real relationship with Christ. Don't just hear the word - do it!
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
If we don't know the scriptures, we won't know our God! We won't know truth or a lie when we hear it. His word will save us if we'll read it and obey it!
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-7)
Let's not wait until tragedy strikes before we seek the Lord and serve him with all of our hearts.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23)
Let's be ready to meet our God no matter what happens tomorrow.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 25:13)
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Christian Reputation Building
At the time of this writing, one name is dominating the news: Charlie Sheen. The highest paid sitcom actor with several movies to his credit is making a spectacle of himself on TV news shows and online. I don't know Charlie or understand his bizarre behavior, but it appears to me that his career and reputation are circling the drain.
The tiger's blood must be wearing off.
Here's another observation: except for the mercy of God...I could be the next whacked-out 6:00 o'clock news story.
I was doing some research for the upcoming release of my novel, and came upon a great article by Joanna Penn about author branding. In it she asks, “How do you want to be known? What words do you want people to associate with you? What are your goals for the next 3 years? What words are associated with that?”
Great questions for all of us – not just writers - because we do choose our reputations.
We all have character traits and reputations; our own unique branding. We know others by what they say and do, which is exactly how they know us too. Will people think of us as Christians because that's what we say we are...or how they see we are? If we have to remind people that we're living for God, something is wrong.
It's interesting to note that we don't know each other by how we meant to act.
Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour. (Ecclesiastes 10:1)
How do we want to be known by our own family? How do we want your neighbors to view us? What keywords would we want people to use to find us online?
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. (Proverbs 22:1)
Audiences used to laugh with Charlie Sheen. Today they're laughing at him. If he suddenly passed on from this life, how would he be remembered now? He could certainly use our prayers, but is there anything we can learn from his example?
How about O.J. Simpson's example?
We will be known tomorrow for our actions today. A Christ-like character and an honorable reputation are built deliberately, not accidentally.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
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What does the Bible say about marriage, you ask? It says a lot! Like many of God's plans for us, marriage is simple to understand, but not necessarily easy to live out. However, since God created the marriage relationship, and this important decision will forever impact our lives for better or worse, doing things his way is still the best.
Here's a portion of what Jesus had to say to the Pharisees about marriage and divorce...
But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Mark 10:6-9)
One man, one woman. Man cleaves to his wife. They become one flesh. That's a pretty simple plan to follow. But now we need to add an eternal perspective. Some people serve God and some don't. That's not a little thing especially since many important decisions we'll make will be based on what we believe. God knew that and commanded his people to not marry unbelievers.
What happened to Solomon thousands of years ago happens all too frequently to Christians today...
But king Solomon loved many strange women...Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.... and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.
(1 Kings 11:1-4)
Those are some haunting words. “for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” If you're in a relationship with an unbeliever now, have you already made compromises in your walk with God? If you have, it's only the tip of the iceberg.
I remember talking with a young couple who were planning to get married. They were both brought up with very different beliefs, but at the time, neither was living their faith. I asked them point blank about that. They really didn't have a well thought out answer. I strongly cautioned them to talk that out because eventually that would become important.
They got married and guess what? The lenses of real life have replaced the rosy glasses and faith is a major issue. Several months have passed now, and they're expecting their first child. How much more important will faith become in raising children? Off the charts is about right.
Marriage is wonderful! It's also wonderfully difficult even under the best of circumstances. Two people heading in opposite directions spiritually is asking for trouble, arguments, and many tears. What's even worse – much worse – is that some believers will compromise their faith to appease their mate and eventually lose their soul. They'll put their spouse above the Lord.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
Some lovely Christian women will spend more time picking out their gown then they will examining the depth of their fiancee's commitment to Christ. Ladies, the man you marry will become your head and spiritual authority that God will expect you to submit to. Have you thought that through? I write this not only to the twenty-somethings, but to you mature women of God too. Loneliness is difficult for sure, but being disobedient isn't the cure. Guard your witness and your ministry. Don't leave your first love. I know of a woman who, despite warnings from others, married the wrong man. She realized it almost immediately after the short honeymoon was over. Then, just a few months later, the right man appeared. Ouch.
Men, sex is great, but it's not everything. Underneath the curvy figure of your bride to be, are you confident there's a heart devoted to Jesus? Would you bet eternity on it? Or will prayer and Bible reading interfere with more worldly things to do? Be wise and don't set yourself up for failure. Unequally yoked marriages are more costly than you can possibly imagine especially when children become part of the picture.
I'm writing a novel that not only involves a unique approach to church fellowship, but also the interesting perils of an unequally yoked marriage. See more about that here.
Marriage and the Bible go together like a hand in glove. God's Word is full of advice and promises for a fulfilling and peaceful relationship to those who read and obey. That helpful advice actually begins before you get married.
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