Thursday, January 20, 2011


I recently wrote an article (Dec. 16, 2010) entitled: The Church: A Living Organism or a Legal Organization? In this article, I explained that, according to the State, when God’s people seek to establish a non-profit organization, this

“… Corporation derives its existence and all of its powers from the State and, therefore, has only such powers as the State has conferred upon it…the source of this power is the charter and the statute under which the corporation was organized.” - Len Young Smith and G. Gale Roberson, Smith and Roberson’s Business Law, West publishing Company, 1966, page 796.”

I went on to explain that

The Church is not a “corporation” (a “legal entity”)!
It is a living, breathing organism!

A reader online posed some questions about that article and I believe that these questions and my response are worth sharing.

READER: It seems that in your comments you see the "church" and Christian organizations as the same entity. Is that true? I'm wondering if you see a difference between an organization registering and a "church" doing so?
I can clearly see the reasons a local fellowship does not need to register and the downfall in doing so, but I'm not sure the same reasons would apply to an organization. Do you see an inherent fault in a Christian organization or just in registering? I'd love to hear some more!

My response:

Thank you for your questions and for your desire to understand my concerns.

It may be that the clearest way for me to answer your questions is to ask a few questions.

Is there any evidence in the New Testament where God's people ever established an organization, made a covenant with and sought the approval of the worldly government regarding the work Jesus appointed to them? Did Jesus ever encourage His people to make a covenant with the worldly government in order to obtain benefits from it?

Many of us have come to believe that the institutional church was never God’s intention for His people. With that awareness in mind, are we being inconsistent in institutionalizing His work!

Do God’s people need to apply for the state’s approval for
accomplishing His work any more than His fellowship?
Do God’s people need a board of directors for
accomplishing His work any more than His fellowship?
Do God’s people need bylaws for
accomplishing His work any more than His fellowship?

Considering that the local fellowship is made up of God's people and that the Work of Jesus is performed by His people:
• Should we ever seek to make the fellowship or the work of God’s people a legal entity?
• Does the fellowship or the work of God's people "derive its existence and all of its powers from the State"?
• Does the fellowship or the work of God's people have "only such powers as the State has conferred upon it"?

If we promote that the fellowship of God's people should not be institutionalized, are we being consistent when we make a covenant with the State seeking it to be the "source of power and the statute under which” His work is accomplished?

These are the questions that I’ve wrestled with and that have led me to the understanding which I’ve written about in this article. I don’t believe that we can separate the fellowship of His people from the work to which He has called them. I don’t think we can institutionalize one without it affecting the other. We cannot serve two masters!

If I still haven’t made myself clear, feel free to keep asking questions!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

SEX SLAVES – For the Sake of the Priceless

Over the last couple of years, the Spirit of Jesus has been drawing my heart toward those who are trapped in Human Trafficking. Human trafficking involves an “act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through the use of force or coercion for the purpose of exploiting” them. After reading statistics and stories about victims of this detestable crime, my heart is especially drawn toward young girls being sold as sex-slaves.

Honestly, I initially resisted learning more about this heinous crime. I knew that if I learned more, something would be required of me. I questioned whether or not I have the emotional, physical or spiritual strength to respond like Jesus. Yet, God continued to tug at my heart and I believe He has brought me to a place where I’m genuinely saying: “Ok, Lord, I’ll do whatever you want with me in this.”

I think the final straw was a book that I read entitled, Priceless, a novel about Stuart, a photojournalist on assignment in Russia. Stu joins a life-risking operation to rescue girls from the sex-slave trade. Throughout the book, the author, Tom Davis exposes the evil committed against millions of girls while the government stands by, not only allowing it to happen, but even participating in the horror! Yes, the book is fiction. However, the realities it exposes are these:

1.2 million children are trafficked every year;
this is in addition to the millions already held captive by trafficking.
Every 2 minutes a child is prepared for sexual exploitation.
The average victim is forced to have sex up to 40 times a day!
The average age of a trafficked victim is 14 years old.
Tragically, only 1-2 percent of the victims are rescued,
and only 1 in 100,000 Europeans involved in trafficking are convicted.
Child sex tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry.
By 2010 Sex Trafficking will be the number one crime worldwide!

I can’t explain the why behind this kind of suffering any better than the words of Oscar Wilde (Irish writer and poet) –

Now it seems to me that love of some kind is the only possible explanation of the extraordinary amount of suffering that there is in the world.

I will be leaving tomorrow for Angeles City, Philippines which is one of the largest sex tourist destinations in the world with over 15 thousand women working in its sex establishments. A.C. is also the Philippine's second largest destination point (after Manila) for internal trafficking, & is one of the main recruitment points used by trafficking networks. I will be working with RENEW Foundation which is a Christian International Organization that “aims to empower female victims of prostitution & sex trafficking through an holistic approach to recovery. RENEW also works to prevent young women from being trafficked and from entering prostitution through community development programs including income generating projects, seminars and scholarships.”

If the Lord places me on your heart over the next five weeks, please pray that He would use this experience to teach me more about Love: Suffering With and For Others. I realize that there is more in store for me to receive than what I could ever offer. However, it is my prayer that Father would use even me to bring the healing hope of Jesus to these Priceless ones.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Spirituality - A Response to “A More Pure Celebration of the Gift”

Although most have completed their “Christmas” celebrations, this is such a well-written, thought-out response to Gary’s article, A More Pure Celebration of the Gift that I felt moved to share it with you.

Very early in our marriage, my wife and I moved away from Christmas. We couldn't see anything in it, neither in the way it happens in the larger culture nor within the practice of the church, that reflected the humility of Christ's incarnation.

Christmas, in our view, was a demonstration, built into the rhythm of the year, that we love being a part of a consumer culture and are willing to lend spiritual legitimacy to the spend-and-be-busy mentality by attaching romantic family coziness to it, as well as by co-opting biblical support for it, insisting that we're doing what the wise men did by presenting gifts to the infant King!

There were too many distortions of truth for us to feel comfortable with. How could we participate in an event that nurtures self-centered consumerism in our children ("What do you want for Christmas?")? By contrast, the incarnation of Christ demonstrates, along with many other things, denial of self. Christmas knows nothing of that, as far as we could see.

For our part, we do understand the blessing that people experience, especially in being together as His people, witnessing their children re-enact their version of the Birth story, singing the incarnation and salvation songs and hymns, hearing hope-filled messages about an amazing Savior-Son. If that were the single focus, we would gladly join! We could identify with that -- although we're happier to do that sort of worship any day or time of the year.

What has put us on the outside of those "Christmas" celebrations is the inclusion of so much more in the those gatherings that does not belong to Him. Our reading of Scripture has led us to believe that God does not accept the mixture of Himself with that which is not-God.

For much too long, a customary greeting in the foyer of the church building has been "Well, what did Santa bring you?" or "was Santa good to you this year?" or "Christmas would just be so complete if we could have some snow". For the weeks of "Advent", the sanctuary's central decoration is typically a "Christmas tree", with brightly-wrapped boxes beneath it, and there are "Advent" candles lit each week to build the momentum and drama up until "the big day". People are tired and ragged, many softly muttering, "I'll be glad when this is over" (they’ve shopped right up till midnight!) or "I've put on 10 pounds!" (they've gorged at dozens of banquets, workplace parties, and family eat-fests).

Most people do recognize that all those extras do not have anything to do with "the real Christmas". It's a peculiar thing that there is an acknowledgement, even from the pulpits, that the "real Christmas" has nothing to do with all the hoopla, they nevertheless guard all those traditions with such fervor!

We're saddened that Incarnated God is lost in a cute rendering of idyllic versions of a peaceful birth ("sleep in heavenly peace"?) and in trite and predictable sermons that omit how the Incarnation contains a dramatic challenge to live a radically self-denying and Christ-incarnated life. That message can't be spoken in the midst of a self-gratifying and frivolous event, without trashing what folks regard as the most sacred event on their calendar.

We have truly experienced such joy and freedom as we have gradually, over some years, moved out of the various practices of Christendom, Christmas included, that bring a cloud over the incomparable Christ and that bring confusion around His person and name.

As we seek to glorify our King, it is my prayer that God’s people prayerfully consider His desire for how we can more purely celebrate the birth of his precious Gift, Jesus.