Dear Friends,

"Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have
many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through
the gospel." (1 Corinthians 4:15) "We loved you so much that we were
delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well,
because you had become so dear to us. For you know that we dealt with each of
you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting
and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and
glory." (1 Thessalonians 2:8, 11,12)

In an ever increasing individualistic society, technological age and
with shallow relationships even within the church, there is a great need to
intentionally build and deepen personal relationships.

We see in the Divine community of the Triune Godhead, the love and friendship
among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Likewise, we are created in the image
of God to be in deep personal relationships with others through our shared faith
in God through Jesus. We grow in our intimacy with the Lord and each other as
we share with one another our personal experience of Him. And we can only make
Him known to the degree we know Him. Yet in the busyness of our world we must
be intentional and committed to meeting with one another to mentor and be mentored
by other Christian men.

This highly relational and deeply personal approach to ministry is the very
pattern of ministry our Lord Jesus modeled for us to follow. "He appointed
twelve–designating them apostles —that they might be with him and
that he might send them out to preach". (Mark 3: 14) Spending in-depth
time with the twelve apostles was Jesus’ model for ministry to mature
them in their personal knowledge of Him. His classroom was the classroom of
life as they watched Him love and serve and preach and heal. Thus they were
enabled to carry on His great work and reflect the character of Jesus to others
after He ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit. "That which was from
the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which
we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the
Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim
to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We
proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship
with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ."
(1 John 1:1-3) You can see from this Scripture that the disciples’ message
was significantly focused on the Person of Jesus who Himself had incarnated
and relationally imparted the gospel of God to them. It is vital that we know
the doctrines of the faith but we also must know, trust and follow the Person
of Christ even when His ways and thoughts are incomprehensible. "As the
heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and
my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9) "On hearing it, many
of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it? From
this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. "You
do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter
answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal
life. "We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.""
(John 6:60, 66-69) Peter probably didn’t understand what Jesus was saying
either but he was willing to follow Him because he trusted Jesus as a Person.

Another important message we see from Scripture and from Jesus’ pattern
of ministry regarding “spiritual impartation” (i.e., transferring
our faith to another) in addition to the highly personal nature of ministry
is that of spiritual authority. There is a pattern in the Trinity of Unity,
Diversity, Equality, Leadership and Submission that is the source of true Biblical
authority for spiritual fathers and leaders. Thus we must be under God’s
authority through God-given leaders or we cannot exercise spiritual authority
ourselves. Leaders who have trouble submitting to authority will usually have
trouble exercising spiritual authority. Yet spiritual authority is necessary
to accomplish God’s purposes for those we influence. Spiritual authority
is different from positional authority as a father, boss, pastor, elder, mentor
or the influence of a charismatic personality. Spiritual authority flows through
the channel of humility and submission as seen in Jesus. (See Luke 7:1-10 for
an example of the flow of spiritual authority through faith and submission to
Jesus. Also See Robert Clinton’s book The Making of a Leader
and his Ten Commandments of Spiritual Authority based on Watchman Nee’s
book Spiritual Authority.) "Jesus gave them this answer: "I
tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he
sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."
(John 5:19) "Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father
has sent me, I am sending you
." (John 20:21) We are spiritually alive
as Christians because Jesus obeyed and submitted to the Father all the way to
the cross. Until we grasp that we are “alive” because of
His example of humility and submission we won’t live as His example of
humility and submission in following and leading. Yet unless we are filled (ruled,
controlled by) the Holy Spirit we will not submit for the flesh is hostile to
God’s authority. “The sinful mind (flesh) is hostile to God.
It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful
nature cannot please God.
" (Romans 8:7) “But be filled with
the Spirit; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
(See Ephesians 5:18-21 KJV)

There is a Divine organizational chart, if you will, seen in the Trinity that
is to be reflected in marriage (Ephesians 5:21-22), parents and children, (Ephesians
6:1-2), and in the body of Christ (Hebrews 13:17). "Now I want you to realize
that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and
the head of Christ is God." (1 Corinthians 11:3) "Remember your leaders,
who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life
and imitate their faith." "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.
They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that
their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to
you." (Hebrews 13:7, 17) Our son’s pastor, Joe Noveson, preached
a wonderful expository sermon on Hebrews 13:17, which greatly helps explain
the spiritual meaning and application of this verse in following and leading.
"Obey (an inner persuasion and desire to obey versus a forced submission
by the leader) your leaders and (then) submit (yield) to their authority. (Why?)
They keep watch (lose sleep over) over you (your souls) as men who must give
an account (to God). Obey them so their work will be a joy, not a burden, (the
leader has an emotional involvement with their disciples and delights in their
progress but is sad and burdened in their lack of progress – but not angry and
condemning) for that would be (unprofitable) of no advantage to you (there is
spiritual loss for the disciple if they are not voluntarily submitting to a
leader.) Pray for us (the leader readily acknowledges his own needs to those
he mentors). We are sure that we have a clear conscience (the leader has examined
his motives and attitudes in serving others) and desire to live honorably in
every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you
soon." (The leader longs to be with those he serves.) Though leaders give
their hearts to those they serve they must keep their head to insure that they
lovingly, but truthfully and firmly, correct those they serve for maximum spiritual
growth and because the leader is accountable to God not the disciple. "Am
I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please
men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."
(Galatians 1:10)

We all need a Paul (mentor), a Barnabas (friend) and a Timothy (disciple) in
our life. Spiritual growth comes from both receiving and giving the life of
God from and to others in in-depth, honest and accountable relationships as
seen from the teachings above. Without these relationships our growth is stunted
and our salt and light influence on our families, workplace and society is minimized
or lost. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness,
how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to
be thrown out and trampled by men. "You are the light of the world. A city
on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under
a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in
the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see
your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16) Let
me encourage you to pray, as I do daily, for God to connect you with those who
love and fear the Lord as seen in the psalmist’s prayers: "I am a
friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts. May those who fear
you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word. May those
who fear you turn to me, those who understand your statutes." (Psalm 119:63,
74, 79) Pray for a mentor to teach you, a friend to walk with, and disciple
to serve, and experience the growth in Christlikeness that He wants you to have
for His glory.

"Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened
and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those
who feared the LORD and honored his name. "They will be mine," says
the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession.
I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.
And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked,
between those who serve God and those who do not.” (Malachi 3:16-18)

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good
deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
(Hebrews 10:24-25)

Until He comes,

Len and Kristen

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