Archive for April, 2010

22
Apr
10

function

The Four-Fold Function of Foremost Ministries:

 

(1)    It is an Rescue Ministry (1 Timothy 1:12-16)

 

The first and primary function of Foremost is to make the Lord’s grace and salvation known and available to all people, and especially to those whose guilt and shame has led them to believe they are unworthy of Christ’s mercy and forgiveness.

 

(2)    It is a Revival Ministry (2 Chronicles 7:14-16; Psalm 85:6)

 

The second functional goal of Foremost Ministries is to extend to the Body of Christ the call to revival, and to realize and activate the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit within the Church in fulfilling her calling, ministry and responsibility to a reach a broken and suffering world.  Foremost Ministries believes such a revival cannot be contained within the walls of a church building, or be limited to an particular religious institution or denomination, but will unify and strengthen all believers in Christ for the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the expansion of the Kingdom of God.     

 

(3)    It is a Restoration Ministry (Luke 15: 11-32; Galatians 6:1-3; James 5:19-20)

 

The third, and no less important, function of Foremost Ministries is for restoring the faith of those who once believed and followed, but have wandered away from Christ and His teachings.  It has rightly been said that we in the Church have often been guilty of “shooting our wounded.”  Worse than that, we are more often guilty of ignoring them to death.  Our intent is to reach out to even the worst of “prodigals” with the same mercy, grace and healing that our Savior extends to us.    

 

(4)    It is a Reinforcement Ministry (Proverbs 4:23; 1 Timothy 6:20-21)

 

Finally, it is the goal of Foremost Ministries to encourage, enable and reinforce the ministries of those who are called by God to lead His Church.  Through effective teaching, counseling, and personal testimony, Foremost Ministries seeks to reinforce and emphasize to pastors, staff, teachers and lay leaders the importance of fervently safeguarding the integrity and sacredness of the charge that the Lord has entrusted to them.

19
Apr
10

Foremost Ministries

Foremost Ministries is primarily for those carrying wounds inflicted by lives lived in a broken, sinful and fallen world.  It is the teaching, preaching and evangelistic ministry of Eddie Williams who encountered the all encompassing mercy, grace and love of Jesus Christ despite his sinful rebellion and the fact that he considered himself to be the “foremost” among sinners.  Eddie believes that his calling is to preach the One True Gospel and share his personal testimony to churches filled with those who are broken and wandering apart from God, “so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16 NASV)

People are hurting.  They are broken and suffering from such an immense variety of wounds as to defy calculating.  In their desperation to alleviate their pain, these damaged people are often led into even more dangerous and self-destructive behavior.  These are the victims of guilt, anger, betrayal, loneliness, abuse, addiction, fear, despair, depression, poverty, violence, grief, disease and a sense of unworthiness.  Because of their damaged state, they may have come to believe that either there is no hope for them or that they are undeserving of a better life.  It does not matter whether their condition has been caused by circumstance, by other human beings or self-inflicted, for them hope has become a meaningless word.  Their purpose for living is either gone or shrouded in such an opaque veil of utter darkness that they can’t see it.  The most tragic aspect of the condition I am describing is that any concept of God does not exist or it is so distorted that these suffering ones have either stopped believing in Him or believe that He does not care.  If there seems to be a certain familiarity in manner that I describe these conditions of pain and the people experiencing them, it is because I was one of them.

When the new century began, I was a pastor and an ordained minister preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I was also a husband and father, well respected, and loved by many whom I was called to serve.  To anyone even casually observing my life, everything seemed perfect and blessed beyond any denial.  Then, in what seemed like an instant, it was all gone.  In one sinful moment of indiscretion and failed moral judgment…in one instance of disobedience…in one singular slip of all that I had ever believed, everything in my life collided with the lie I had been living and collapsed into a smoldering pile of ash.

For the next six years, I lived my life, not only as though I had never been a minister, but as though I had never been a believer in Christ.  Shame and guilt evolved into bitterness and anger.  The image of the man of God slowly faded into an abstract picture of a fugitive of God.  My own image of myself became one of failure, uselessness, disqualification and hopelessness.  I turned my back on the God, on His Church and on myself.  The man I awoke to look at in the mirror each morning was the man I most detested and that detest spread like a communicable disease to everyone I touched.  I fled from Christ like a common criminal. Finally, I ran headlong into the fullness of His mercy, His grace and His unfailing love for even the “foremost” of sinners.

The last four years of my life has been about the miracle of redemption, of restoration, of recovery and of a fresh realization of His purpose and calling on my life.  Someone has correctly said that our greatest victory is often born out of our greatest defeat.  For me, that is true only because of the grace of God, the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and the love of my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

I have been given a new story to tell and it is intended to be told to the ones I described earlier. My renewed calling is to the ones who believe that God doesn’t want or love them…to the ones who feel abandoned and without hope.  I am compelled to tell the story of Jesus and His redemption, offered without exception to all who will surrender their hurts to Him and trust in Him for life.  This calling is to the broken hearted, to the skeptical, to the embittered, and to “those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.” (1 Timothy 1:16 – The Message)

The Apostle Paul referred to himself as having been the “foremost” among sinners.  He acknowledged this so that others might see his transformation as an example of the Lord’s patience with even the very worst and hardest hearted, and understand that Christ’s grace is for all.  Just as the Lord gave Paul a testimony as one saved from being a “blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man,” so too He has given me such a story as to give hope to even the most hopeless. 

You have the opportunity to help me to tell that story to those people.  Foremost Ministries stands ready to assist churches in reaching the lost and hurting in your community.  I am ready to schedule services designed to evangelize and allow the Holy Spirit to awaken, revive and heal the hearts of those most needing it.  I hope that you will prayerfully consider inviting me to share my story, which is really the Lord’s story of redemption and deliverance from the guilt and the results of sin.

16
Apr
10

Pay Attention!

“and do not give the devil an opportunity.” – Ephesians 4:27 (NASV)

Have you ever noticed the tendency of people whose lives are miserable and marked by a defeatist’s attitude to disparage and diminish the successes and victories of others?  It seems as though they will take every opportunity to tear down everyone else’s joy, because they have none for themselves.  When these people see someone else about to break through to achieve happiness and success, rather than give them a hand up, they’d rather grab an ankle and pull them back down to where they are.

That is precisely the picture of how our Adversary the Devil works.  Its his M.O. if you will.  He has always operated that way.  At his fall, although he was Lucifer, one of the most beautiful and highly exalted of all the angels in heaven, he was jealous for what he did not have and set about to exert his authority over that of God Himself.  In the Garden of Eden, it was his jealousy that turned the heart of Eve and Adam to disobey the Lord’s one restrictive command to them.  He influenced Herod to attempt to kill our Immanuel even as He was being born.  When Jesus was about to begin His earthly ministry, Satan met Him in the desert tempting Him to turn from His mission.  At the crucifixion, the Devil thought he had finally thwarted the will of God to extend grace and salvation to us all, and was again defeated at the Resurrection.  And he nevers learns!  You’d think he would read the end of the Book and know that his ultimate demise is inevitable.  But, still his desire is drag down as many as possible before that happens.

I have experienced his strategy in my own life and you probably have too.  It has always been right when I was about achieve my greatest spiritual and physical victories, that he exerts his greatest energy to hinder that from happening.  Even when he knows he will lose the war, he remains determined to grab a battle or two here and there.  Jesus warned us about this when he said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  If our Enemy cannot keep us from being saved and having eternal life, then he will satisfy himself with stealing our opportunities for a full and abundant life in Christ in this world. 

Sadly, when he wins it is usually because we have been too distracted to notice or too caught up in our own issues, and we give him the “opportunity” he needs to drag us down.  Satan wins when we don’t pay attention.  We don’t pay attention to what he’s up to, and worse, we don’t pay attention to the Holy Spirit when He directs us and convicts us.  That’s why the Bible warns us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

So….feelin’ good about yourself?  Pretty confident that you are about to break through to victory?  Is God about to call you to accomplish something huge for the Kingdom and provide a major victory in your life?  HEADS UP!  PAY ATTENTIONListen closely only to what the Spirit of God is saying to you!  And tell that sneak to take a hike, in Jesus’ name! 

15
Apr
10

Foremost!

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.  Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. – 1 Timothy 1:15-16 (NASV)

09
Apr
10

Spiritual Parenthood 101

I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children.  For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you.  So I urge you to imitate me. -1 Corinthians 4:14-16 (NLT)

The Apostle Paul had given birth to the Church at Corinth, and now he was receiving reports that they were acting like petulent, spoiled children.  So, like any good father his actions were immediate and firm, to correct, rather than punish.  We have no evidence that Paul had biological children of his own.  We do know that he had many spiritual children, like Timothy (1 Timothy 1:2).  Through his ministry and mission the Lord had given him quite a brood of kids and he knew precisely that the role of a father is not only to love, but also to discipline.  Thats why he reminded his son, Timothy to, “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching (2 Timothy 4:2 NLT).”

As I continue to read Paul’s inspired writing, here is what occurs to me.  Even though we are and will remain the children of God, it is not His intended purpose for us to remain as little children.  Rather, as our own children will one day hopefully marry and have their own brood of children (and make us grandparents), we are to give birth to other children of God.  When we do this we need to learn to act as responsible parents, and the best way for us to do that is to model the example of our own Father.  Even Jesus, who was completely perfect in everyway reminded us, “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).”

Paul was not being arrogant or prideful when he sought to correct his Corinthian kids by saying, “…I urge you to imitate me.”  Later in his letter he would make this even clearer as he wrote, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).”  He knew who is his role model was and the results of his own upbringing.  He was being a good, responsible father working to raise more good, responsible parents.

So, here’s a few questions for us to consider:  (1)  Are we growing up into mature adults in Christ, or are we still acting like spoiled little kids?  (Remember, nobody likes being around brats!)  (2)  Are we prolific in bringing new borns into the Kingdom and the Bride of Christ?  (Pregnancies don’t happen from a distance, but only by intimately sharing!)  (3)  Are we the kind of parent that our spiritual kids can imulate and model?  (We can only model perfection by imitating the perfect, and our model can only be our Lord.)

Go make some Kingdom kids today…..and be a good parent!

04
Apr
10

The Last Shall Be First

Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. – Matthew 27:59-61 (NIV)

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. – Matthew 28:1 (NIV)

It seems that Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” (Mary of Clopas- John 19:25), lingered at the tomb after everyone else had left.  Have you ever seen this behavior at a funeral?  Its always the ones who love the deceased the most who linger the longest, and often they are the ones who later in the day return as if to make sure the final resting place is secure and that their loved one is at peace.

One thing is for certain.  None of the disciple were there.  They had already scattered for fear and were in their various hiding places.  Peter was probably to ashamed because of his trifold denial of even knowing His Lord.  Thomas likely was brooding, formulating his doubts about whether any of this was ever true.  Simon the Zealot may have been hatching some kind of revenge plot.  We are not told for sure where they went or what the disciples were doing, but we know for sure that Mary and Mary were there.

We also know that the women spent the following day preparing the spices for anointing the body of Jesus on the first day of the week (Luke 23:56).  Then on the dawn of Sunday morning, they arrived back at the tomb.  Mary Magdalene and Mary Clopas were the last to leave Jesus and the first to return.  Even in the face of despair, of threats and potentially public disgrace, they did not fear to show their love, their devotion, and their faith.

Because of this they were the last to see the place of their sorrow and grief, but the first to witness the victory and the joy of the Risen Savior.  They were the first to know that the tomb was not final and only borrowed for a time.  And Mary Magdelene, who had given the very best she had to anoint Him and to wash His feet with her tears and dry them with her hair, was the first to see and hear Him in His resurrected form.  Most importantly, they were the first to have the privilege of announcing the Risen Christ to the world.

Today, whether you have been a believer for years, hiding silently in your own insecure world, or whether you have only just been saved.  Or perhaps you have yet to begin a relationship with the Lord Jesus.  Whether you were the first to leave or the last.  Even if you are the latest to arrive.  You may know with assurity that the tomb stills lies empty.  Jesus lives!

RUN!  Go tell the others!  He’s alive!

03
Apr
10

The Long Saturday

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. – Matthew 27:62-66 (NIV)

Saturday.  The day after the crucifixion of Jesus.  His body lies in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimethea.  And, someone among the chief priests and Pharisees says, “Hey!  Wait a minute!  Didn’t this guy say that He would rise up out of the grave after three days?”  Suspecting a conspiracy, they figure that the followers of the man they have murdered would steal the body and claim it as proof that He indeed is the Messiah.  So they scramble to prevent any deception or perpetuation of a hoax.

Once again they take their dilemma to the Roman authority for help.  And Pilate, probably growing plenty impatient with all this religious posturing, agrees to post guards at the tomb and to place the seal of Rome on it.  Nobody would want to tangle with well trained and well armed Roman soldiers (who would pay severly for the failure of their assigned duty), and the penalty for breaking the seal of the Roman government would likely resemble what Jesus Himself had received.  So, it would be an easy assumption that the Jewish leaders would have been smuggly confident that they had seen the last of this Galilean troublemaker.  Done deal!  Even the “deceiver” himself had said it from the cross, hadn’t he?  “It is finished.”

That same Saturday the disciples were in hiding, afraid of being captured by the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman government.  The women were resting and preparing their burial spices to anointed the body of their fallen Lord.  Mary, the mother of Jesus was grieving the horrifying death of her first born son.  Judas Iscariot used his ill-gotten funds to purchase a field with a lone tree, large enough to hang himself from.  It was a long day.  All hope seemed to have disappeared and the future looked empty.

Maybe your present circumstances seem similar to that Saturday.  Everything that you had hoped for and expected in your life may seem to be in total collapse.  Your enemies might even be gloating over your perceived failures and situation.  Your own grief and disappointment may appear to be so opaquely dark that you can’t even begin to imagine what tomorrow will be like, and the prospects for it being worse seem likely.

Wait!  Hang on!  Sunday morning is on the way.  A new day…a new week…a new life!  The blackness of the tomb is about to be driven away by a brilliant light!  The stone that hinders an emergence is about to be rolled away!  The burial bindings are about to be loosed!  The Enemy is about to taste defeat!  Sorrow is about to become unfettered joy!  The old is about to become new!   

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.  So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 (NIV)