It is the mission of Candlelight Fellowship staff, leadership team members, and individual members to make every effort to emulate the New Testament model of Church leadership. Therefore we desire to learn and apply the following principles.
One of the passions of my heart is to be a man of prayer. Jesus prayed, the disciples prayed, and every great man or woman of God spends time with the Lord in prayer. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, encouraged them to pray and prayed with them. Paul told the church to pray, prayed with those he served, and taught Timothy to follow his lead and teach others to do the same. In 1 Timothy 2 we read, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1–4) Furthermore, in Philippians we read, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7)
Our fellowship is committed to being a house of prayer. We spend time each day in prayer as well as on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. We invest ourselves in prayer. We lift up our needs and desires to the Lord, and in doing so have seen the continuing blessing of God’s presence and, by His grace, the accompanying results. It is our commitment to continue this practice for as long as this fellowship exists. Without prayer, we are nothing more than a man-built, man-centered institution.
In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he said: “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Here at Candlelight we desire to be known as people of prayer. Jesus said, “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1) I pray that the Lord Himself will give us all a deeper hunger for His presence, a greater desire to sit in His presence, and a richer experience in Him as we spend more time with Him in prayer, in worship, and in His Word.
“Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17)
Worship is defined as bowing down in surrender. Worship is the surrender of self, honor, adoration, credit, will, and pride to the only true and living God. Worship is giving thanks and adoration to the Lord for all He is and all he has done in creating, ruling and redeeming mankind. Therefore, it can be said that, worship, in and of itself, is designed to be self-effacing and God exalting.
As the body of Christ we are given the awesome privilege of worshiping the Lord. We do this in many ways. The first step is simple surrender. Surrender of our pride. This allows us to see that we are needy, and we willingly offer our lives to Jesus. We give up our self-reliance, and surrender to the all surpassing power and care of the Lord Himself. Believers have come to understand that we cannot rely upon ourselves for anything. It is Jesus who has drawn us, opened our eyes to see whom we are without Him, revealed His greatness to us, and saved us. We accept the fact that we cannot save ourselves and are therefore reliant upon His all surpassing and amazing grace.
In Psalm 29:2 David directs us to, “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” Jesus said the God is pleased with our worship and seeks those who will “worship Him in Spirit and Truth.” (John 4:23-24) This is the high calling of every believer.
Believers express their surrender to the Lord in various forms. It begins with a daily walk before the Lord. Demonstratively, our lives declare our worship. Believers may also worship through prayer, giving, serving, and offerings of vocal and musical ministry to the Lord. As we worship, we declare God’s greatness and our total dependence on Him. We minister to Him personally and directly by thanking Him for His wonderful grace and mercy.
At Candlelight, we set aside time in our services for worship. The expression includes singing songs of praise and adoration to the Lord, spending time in prayer, financially supporting the work of ministry, serving one another, and blessing the Lord as we learn to walk in the power of His grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit as revealed by the knowledge of God’s word.
Verse by Verse
Paul the Apostle told the Ephesian elders, “…I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:27–28)
This passage became a test question for me in Bible school. I was asked, “How do you monitor whether or not you are teaching the full counsel of God?” I was stumped by the question. A few years later, having taught about everything “I could develop”, I became frustrated by my lack of creativity. I was accustomed to teaching topically, and it seemed that my list of topics had run its course. It was then and there that I finally understood the question, and discovered the answer: teach the whole Bible!
That day I made the decision to do a study, verse by verse, through the book of Romans. I learned, the people I was serving learned, and I was equipped with several months of material. I was no longer spending my time trying to be creative, or looking for a new topic to cover. Now I was studying the Bible – and growing. The church was growing too! We all enjoyed the process.
From that day to the present I have developed the habit of teaching through books of the Bible. Chapter by chapter, verse by verse, line by line and at times – word by word! I have also learned that the Bible is so integrated that the cross referencing broadened my understanding of Scripture, and provided all the illustrations needed, plus the material to show application.
I am pleased to say that I am teaching the whole counsel of God because I teach through the Bible, book by book, and chapter by chapter. As a result, the church will grow, I will grow, and God will be honored.
As believers, we have the privilege of the Bible. Therefore, we will study and show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that do not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Telling It like It Is in a Way You Can Understand
Paul told the Corinthians, “My speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:4-5) Paul communicated to his students directly and simply allowing the Holy Spirit to minister to the hearts of the hearer, rather than attempt fancy formulas or try to entertain with methods designed to tickle the ears of the audience. Paul did not water down the Word, smoothing the edges, or selectively leave out important information to gain an audience or to gain the accolades of the hearer.
We believe God is grieved by clever gymnastics with His word and needs no help getting His message into the hearts of the hearer. It is the Lord who enables you and I to see, hear and understand the truth of the Word.
However, Jesus and the apostles did use illustrations to assist in making the truths of the Gospel understandable to the hearer. They used real life examples as well as visual demonstrations to assist the hearer. They allowed the hearer to see application in the teaching; allowing them to have personal experience with the effect of the truth in their lives.
Paul the apostle prayed that, “the eyes of [our] understanding being [would be] enlightened; that [we] may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” (Ephesians 1:18–19) It is understood that the work of communicating the truth to the heart is the Lord’s. We simply deliver the words.
It is our privilege to communicate the truth of God’s word, in a relevant, plain, and simple manner. We desire to teach in a relaxed and comfortable environment, without discrediting the Scriptures in any way. God has called, gifted, and uses people to preach the Gospel. He uses our minds, our mouths, and especially our hearts as we minister His word. Therefore with joy we share the good news, “telling it like it is, in a way you can understand.”
Anointing before Acceptance
Several years ago, while praying, I felt the Lord impress upon me that in many ways, the church has exchanged the anointing for ministry for acceptance. I know this all too well; as I have fallen into this trap myself. Let me illustrate:
On Easter Sunday, in the year 2000, we had many visitors. Several of them were young people. After about 30 minutes of teaching, I could see that I was beginning to lose the attention of the youth. So, I began to rely on myself and utilize cleverness and modern slang, street expressions, etc. In doing so, I did get the attention of the teenagers, but also grieved the Lord by stumbling some of the older members in the room. I was utilizing human effort in an attempt to accomplish spiritual results. It became very clear to me that the use of human cleverness and man centered tools to produce a desired reception of spiritually discerned truth was my exchange of the anointing to gain acceptance.
The Bible says that the Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword. It goes out with God’s anointing and will not return void. It will accomplish what God has intended. In Isaiah we read, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
The truth is God may intend His Word to be a stumbling block to the proud and arrogant, or healing to the humble. Either way He accomplishes what He intends. When we get in the way through fleshly engineering, we attempt to produce results God may not have intended. God would have us to preach the Word, and allow Him to produce the desired result. Our desire is that we never exchange the anointing for acceptance.
May the Lord cause us to remember, “…the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
May we allow the Lord to produce the results He desires and never try to help the Lord accomplish His purposes. When we try to “help” the Lord we only get in the way.
Kids Are People Too!
One of the debated topics of modern day ministry is whether or not there is Biblical precedent for the development of specialized ministry to children. One will ask, “Are children incapable of listening and learning while gathered together with the rest of the body?” Another will suggest, “Children are distinctly different and need Bible lessons brought to them at a child oriented level.” No matter what side of the line you come down upon, every one of us will agree that children are important and need to be taught just like anyone else.
In the Church today there are a variety of ministries designed to meet the needs of different groups. Singles, youth, young married couples, seniors, etc. In the development of ministry we must remember that kids are people too. Parents are called to teach and train their children, but the Church can be a great asset in supporting and assisting them in the development of their family.
The Bible does not segregate children from the general assembly and does not specifically show a model for specialized ministry. However, we do understand the need to be “all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22)
I believe that in the body of Christ, there are varieties of gifts spread across the members of the body. I also see that there are people with varying needs. God has set into His body, people with gifts designed to help meet the needs of these people. Among these people are “little people.” We must remember that kids are people too!
The Bible tells us “Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 19:13-14) Therefore, we take seriously the injunction to, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6) In the Law, we read, “Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.” (Deut. 4:10)
A Gospel of Faith…Not of Works
At Candlelight, we emphasize what God has done for us – not what we do for Him. We enjoy the blessings of God’s grace and focus our attention on the wonderful things He has done for us.
Many churches and religious groups seek to emphasize what we should be doing to find favor with the Lord. “Religion” stresses man made rules and regulations that put people in bondage to human effort. A relationship with God through Jesus Christ places all the work of our salvation on Jesus Himself. We simply place our faith and trust in Him, and by faith enjoy the righteousness of God in Christ – apart from the deeds of the law, or any other human merit. “For He made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21) Paul said: “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) A gift is not a gift if it is given as wages.
Some will say: “You believe that as a Christian, you have no responsibility to live for the Lord or to do good work.” No! We believe that as Christians, we are given the privilege to “Let [our] light so shine before men that they may see [our] good works, and glorify [our] Father Who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) However, we believe that emphasizing what God has done for us will help us keep a proper perspective on the role of good works: a response to the grace so freely given, through the power of God Who lives in us, rather than an act of performance designed to gain the approval of God. Let’s remember, “We are [God’s] His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
As a response to God’s grace, we serve the Lord with gladness. Not in order to gain the approval of God, but in response to the present approval given to us by grace through faith alone. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
It is Better to Light a Candle than to Curse the Darkness
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” (2 Timothy 3:1–9)
The above passage was written to Timothy about the last days. The description of the times is dark. The darkness is a reason for concern. However, these times are not unlike times of the past. To ancient Israel God said, “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” (Isaiah 60:2) As with Israel, God’s glory is being and will be revealed through the Church.
As believers in Jesus we could get caught up in the negative and focus on all that is wrong in the world, however while we believe that there is a time and place to preach judgment, we also believe “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” In the Bible Paul told the Roman believers, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) So, we receive the injunction and preach the truth of Jesus to a dark and dying world. We don’t specialize in pointing out all the sins sinners commit. We seek to serve our families, friends, and neighbors, and share with them the Good News of Jesus Christ. We are aware of the fact that there are times when we need to help people see that they are sinners in need of a Savior; however, we also know that most people are keenly aware of their need, and are desperate for the hope found only in Jesus.
Healthy Sheep Reproduce
One of the popular church growth strategies that spread throughout the Church in recent years was a plan to orient the Sunday morning services around the seeker. The plan became known as the “seeker sensitive service”. The idea was to make the church service entertaining and fast paced. The focus was to involve drama, special music, and short topical sermons. Basically, the philosophy was to get people to come in for a little Christian entertainment along with a positive Christian message. The “idea” was well accepted by many and certainly did prove useful when attempting to draw large crowds.
Thankfully, through this method many came to know Jesus as Lord. God did use the effort. However, many of those churches found that the people did not grow, and the end result was a large church full of “baby Christians.”
At Candlelight we approach things from a different perspective. We choose to follow the Biblical pattern, and focus the Church gatherings around believers. This does not suggest we are insensitive to seekers!
Paul encouraged Christians to be sensitive toward others. He instructed them to order their conduct and behavior in a way that would prevent them from stumbling those who would come in among them. However, the “church service” was designed for believers – not seekers.
We are a teaching church. We emphasize worship, instruction, fellowship, prayer, and evangelism. The goal is to see every believer at Candlelight become full, mature, and healthy in their Christian faith. As we do, we will overflow with love for others, and be fully equipped in the work of ministry.
Our goal at Candlelight is to assist believers as they grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. We desire to see our members become the best loved, best fed Christians in the community. We know that as believers grow in the Lord they will naturally reach others with the Gospel.
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:2)
Preach the Gospel
We believe that man, apart from God is dead in trespasses and sin. We also believe that people are by nature sinful, separated from God, and responsible for their own sin. There is not one man or woman, who in and of themselves have anything to offer God in exchange for their soul. We know that people will spend eternity in hell if they reject the provisions provided in Jesus Christ our Lord. For this reason, we embrace the blessing and privilege of preaching the Gospel and seize every opportunity, in every occasion, to share our faith with every person God brings into our lives.
The Bible tells us that when a person understands their need for a Savior and trusts Christ for salvation, that person is immediately born again and sealed by the Holy Spirit. All their sins are forgiven, and he or she becomes a child of God destined to spend eternity with the Lord.
Furthermore, the Bible tells us that salvation is offered by grace through faith alone. Redemption in Christ is not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not granted by any human merit or offering of good works. Any offering of salvation granted by human achievement, be it all or in part, is not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and should be rejected as heresy. This is why we preach the Gospel of grace.
At Candlelight, we believe that believers should prepare to share their faith and ask the Lord to provide opportunities for the good news we know and believe to be communicated to others who are without hope. We believe the Gospel is powerful and therefore prepare to share it in simplicity and clarity. We know that the simple message of God’s grace communicated in love will not return void.
The joy of sharing and knowing that God does the work also relieves believers from the responsibility to save anyone. We simply share the truth and allow God to work. It is God alone who saves.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Your Walk Talks (Lifestyle Evangelism)
Paul told the Philippians: “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:” (Philippians 3:17-18)
We believe that a Christian lifestyle should display the nature and mannerisms of Jesus. Therefore, we teach and believe that a person who professes a relationship with Christ and shares the Gospel should demonstrate a holy standard. Anyone can say they are a Christian. But remember, your walk talks, and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.
We all know that a believer can choose to act in a way that is disruptive and will seriously affect their testimony. Many do! Those who desire to share their faith should be free of rebellion against the Lord – and walk in love. There should be no area in the believer’s life that another can put their finger on which demonstrates a rebellion against the standard of a Godly life.
The Scriptures teach that God regenerates the believer. When we are regenerated, we are changed from within. Our lives come under the gentle control of the Holy Spirit. As we live our lives in surrender to the Lord, we will naturally walk in obedience to His leadership and will develop conviction for sin.
Every believer knows the deep conviction manifested when we rebel against the Lord. We experience misery deep within. Our peace is disturbed, our joy is disrupted, and our testimony is destroyed. Today in the Church Age, as the Holy Spirit is convicting mankind of sin, He uses the Scriptures – and the testimony of the saints to point men and women to Jesus. Therefore, we believe it is critical that we live in such a way as to benefit the message of the Gospel. The believers walk is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit through the life of a surrendered believer. Allow the Lord to cause you to walk in such a way as to glorify the Lord, and testify to His goodness.
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13)
People before Programs
“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem… and it came to pass, that as He [Jesus] was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging… and he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace… And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto Him: and when he was come near, He asked him, saying, what wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, receive thy sight… and immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.” (Excerpts: Mark 10:45-52 and Luke 18:31-43)
As believers we are called to plan well and be organized. We are called to use our time as efficiently as possible, and set goals designed to promote the ministry and the furtherance of the gospel. If we are to do this well, we cannot forget that ministry is about serving the Lord, the body of Christ, and the world.
As we consider the story of the blind man above, we can learn from the lesson. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem but was not too “busy” to meet the needs of the blind man in route. If we were the ones who set out for Jerusalem, and found a blind man along the way who needed help, we may need to adjust our schedules in order to place the needs of an individual above our plans to arrive “on time”. We must always remember that the needs of people precede our programs.
At Candlelight, we try to use this rule in all we do. We consider the needs of the body as we plan for ministry and develop programs. We always endeavor to work efficiently to accomplishing all that is required. Occasionally we assess the needs of a majority and know that the program we have developed won’t meet the needs of the few. When this occurs we try our best to address every possible need and offer solutions that will provide health and blessings to all. We always do our best to put people before programs.
The ministry is about Jesus. Jesus desires we serve one another. As you serve, always consider the needs of others.
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, once delivered a speech via printed medium that simply read: “Others.” One word that sent the minds of each student racing toward its logical conclusion: the lifestyle of Jesus.
Jesus came into the world on an others centered mission. Jesus surrendered His will to the will of His Father as an example of others centered ministry. As He traveled the dusty roads of Galilee, Nazareth, Jerusalem, et.al He was thinking of, and serving, others. In order to save us, Jesus laid down His life for us. He emptied Himself of all the divine prerogatives and suffered an agonizing death as an offering of Himself to the Father on our behalf.
Jesus did not simply know this, but declared it to His disciples. He said, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Jesus practiced the rule of “Others.”
As Christians, we are called to allow Christ to live His life through us – in our everyday walk. By His grace, we are enabled to live, to love, and to serve like Jesus. As believers we have been sent by the Lord into this world on an others centered mission. We willingly surrender our will to the will of our Father and live for Him. We are called to set aside our personal plans, dreams, and ambitions, in order to lay down our lives for those around us. As Jesus, Who said: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”, (John 15:13) we too, by God’s grace, can lay down our lives for those God calls us to serve. We too can be “Others” centered.
If we choose to be self-centered and fight for our own will, plans and ambitions, we bring reproach to the Gospel and will be miserable “Christians.” To be others centered is true freedom, true peace and true joy.
Jesus, Others, Yourself. In that order alone = J.O.Y.
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:4-5)
Walk in Love
One of the signs of adolescent Christianity is a lack of concern for how we behave toward and around others – in and outside the family of God. The adolescent Christian has the appearance of growth in the things of God and is in fact growing, but far too often has failed to understand the responsibility of living patiently with the growth and maturity of others around them. They are happy to know the Lord, happy to study the Scriptures, and to pray. They are happy to fellowship with the family of God, but usually on their own terms, and only when it agrees with their agenda and methodology. They fail to see that God is the One who will develop and grow His people and we are called to love one another in the process.
As we come to maturity in Christ, we begin to see the value of walking in love toward those around us. We begin to be less concerned with our own needs, and more concerned with the needs of others. As we have said before, Paul wrote: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil.2:4-5) To the Ephesians he also said: “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Be an encourager. Look for opportunities to serve. Be careful to walk in such a way as to avoid stumbling with one another. Walk in Love.
May the Lord grant us maturity that allows for the weaker brother or sister. May He equip us to live and walk in the Spirit preferring one another in the fear of God. May He fill us with the Love of Christ that we may walk in love toward those who may see our good works and glorify our Father Who is in heaven. Remember, it is God’s job to bring us to maturity. Allow Him to do the work He intends to do in others and simply walk along side your brothers and sisters as He does. “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13)
Patiently Care for the Brethren (Allow the Lord to Mature the Saints)
As we participate within the local body here at Candlelight, we see varying degrees of growth and maturity. Some members of the church seem to grow very quickly, and others look as if they are barely growing or not growing at all.
Early in ministry this used to frustrate me. I thought that a person who responded to the Gospel should be automatically changed and that the result should be visible to all. However, now having experienced many years in ministry, I have come to understand that God works differently, individually, and patiently with each one of us. For one believer, it seems as if their new birth looks like a fish being thrown into the water. They swim like they have been waiting a lifetime to enjoy a refreshing cool stream and have finally found a home. For others, working through their newly found faith is like washing a dog. One will quickly respond to the cleansing and others must be trained to appreciate and accept the experience. Either way, eventually both fish and dog get wet – and clean.
I believe that as a church family, we are to accept the method and speed at which the Lord develops our brothers and sisters. We are to exercise patience with those around us and allow the Lord to work in their lives. We are called to love, instruct, encourage, and patiently care for our brothers and sisters.
Never be critical of the way God brings up His children. Rejoice in what the Lord has taught you and diligently pray for the family. Paul told Timothy, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:24-25) This instruction was given to Timothy and was intended to be passed down through those he taught.
Paul the apostle also told the Romans, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1) The application of this principle can be a challenge, but by the grace of God, and by a good look at our own shortcomings, we will be equipped when serving alongside others in the journey to maturity.
Emphasize the Grace of God (A Safe place to Grow)
If any one of us were to stand before the Lord and have the history of our lives replayed, we would quickly come to understand that we have no business in the presence of a Holy God. Not one of us, in and of ourselves, can provide any merit worthy of being in the presence of the Lord. We are completely undone and sinful. We are completely unworthy of the grace, mercy, and forgiveness, of Jesus our Savior. We believe that the Bible correctly declares, “there is none righteous, no not one”. (Rom 3:10) However, for this very reason Jesus Christ came to this earth. He came to provide us with cleansing from sin and to make us holy. He came to give His life for us, and gift us with the joy of fellowship with God. As undeserving sinners, we are the recipients of God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin!
Most of us have things in our past we regret, and therefore recognize that we are the ones for whom Christ died. In times past we lived in rebellion, pride and ignorance. Furthermore, an honest look at ourselves will show that we still fall into these ways at times – even today. As fallen men and women, we are no different from the woman taken in adultery. We are just like the man known as the demoniac of Gadara. Nathan the prophet could be as easily have said to us what he said to King David, “thou art the man”, – guilty! As a result of this knowledge, we know we have no stones to throw, no names to call, no self-righteousness to exalt. We glory only in the righteousness of God by faith.
Here at Candlelight we are committed to preaching, teaching, and emphasizing, the grace of God. We understand that we are unworthy of His love and to the contrary, are worthy of death. Every day we recognize that in and of ourselves we have nothing to offer the Lord. We are constantly aware of the simple fact that we are falling short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23) Therefore, our goal is to provide a place where the body of Christ can grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ without criticism.
My brothers and sisters, God has given us grace, “…freely you have received, freely give.”
Blessed are the Flexible for They Shall Not Be Broken
“And Abram said unto Lot, let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” (Gen. 13:8-9)
Chuck Smith wrote a beautiful statement about flexibility. He said, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken.” Another way of saying this is, “roll with the punches”, or, “take things in stride”, “be easy going and don’t get unraveled”. The idea is that believers should have temperance and be slow to react. We should be willing to listen, and willing to change when needed. A brittle and inflexible believer will suffer.
When planning or leading, people are usually divided into one of two groups. One will plan ahead, and another will “fly by the seat of their pants”. Those who plan usually don’t like surprises; they like things to go smoothly and without distraction. Planners, who are inflexible to surprises and interruptions, tend to lose their composure, get frustrated, and end up in the flesh – reacting to the situation or person in a way they regret. (I really don’t need to address the “fly by the seat of their pants” folk here, and I am a planner so I should be slow to criticize…)
The Bible makes it clear that planning is wise and that we should be diligent in the things we do. However, we are also called to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and direct our lives. Therefore, we must remain flexible to the opportunities He provides.
Here is the rule – never get overly committed to your own plans and agendas. Remain flexible and teachable. The Lord will much more easily work through you; you will be more effective, and will be free to minister. The Scriptures say, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit; ‘whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)
You Can’t Lead Well if You Can’t Follow Well
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over the past 30 years of ministry is that a man can’t lead well if he can’t follow well.
Many people desire to be in visible places of ministry. Some love to be out front leading and directing. Others enjoy support and behind the scenes ministry. It seems that only a small number of people are gifted with the ability to lead and gather support people. They are the ones God has called and gifted to forge ahead, instruct others, and motivate them to accomplish the desired end. For these people leadership is a natural gift. For a few, leadership is a developed attribute shaped with lessons and experience.
Whether a person is a gifted leader or has learned to lead by experience, we can see that leadership is clearly needed. The need for good leaders and strong leadership is not only needed in government and businesses but is especially needed in the Church. The Church needs men and women who will lead in truth and integrity without compromise or selfish motives. We need leaders who, without flinching, will obey the Scriptures and follow the Lord with a heart of submission. There are far too many who lead from self-driven ambition and are therefore slow to submit to others in the body and/or sadly, even to the Lord.
As a leader, I have come to understand how important it is to live a submissive life of obedience to the Lord. I have also come to realize that a leader is seriously hindered in his or her influence if he or she is unable or unwilling to submit to the leadership of those with whom they serve. A senior pastor must consistently learn from the Lord, his peers, and those to whom he is called to serve. An assistant pastor must learn from the Lord, his senior pastor, his peers and from those he serves, etc. The bullet is, if a person can’t follow well, he or she will never be a great leader. Those who desire to be leaders must be good followers. Leaders are called to serve the body of Christ. We must be humble, sensitive, loving and teachable.
“He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.” (Proverbs 10:17)
Prepare Today for the Opportunities of Tomorrow
Jesus spent time with His disciples teaching and training them for the ministry. He was preparing them for the mission they would carry out after His ascension. Paul spent time teaching and training Timothy. Timothy was taught to commit that truth of the gospel to faithful men who shall be able to teach others. In each of these scenarios the objective was helping those being taught to better serve at some time in the near or distant future. This training with its unspoken rule was, “prepare today for the opportunities of tomorrow.”
In the church, we tend to be reactive rather that proactive when it comes to ministry. Much church related ministry is crisis driven; therefore church staff or other members of the body address needs as they arise. If not trained for these occasions, we will be unprepared to adequately meet the needs of others, thereby poorly handling the need and circumstances. On the other hand, if we prepare for future ministry we will be sufficiently equipped to serve as the Lord allows.
I believe that if we do prepare ourselves for the opportunities of tomorrow, the Lord will reward our preparedness with greater influence and fruitfulness. Greater doors of opportunity will be opened, and we will be effective in serving the Lord.
We are a growing fellowship, and there are many things ahead. We would do well to think about the future and begin to prepare ourselves for those things. Opportunity is before us every day. The needs of the world are ever increasing, and our ability to serve and to give will be needed. Therefore, we at Candlelight will invest ourselves in preparation and service. We will pray about the needs of the world, prepare ourselves for ministry, and give to be financially ready to meet needs.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)
As believers in Christ we will always “…be ready for every good work.” (Titus 3:1)
If You Want to Be Taken Seriously, Be Serious!
Christians are happy people. We have much to celebrate, and joy to share. In fact, a healthy Christian life will be interspersed with humor, and an uplifting focus. However, there are things in the world that must be approached with sobriety and gravity. Paul told Titus, “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing incorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” (Titus 2:6-8)
We believe that humor and joy are appropriate at times, but that a serious approach is required when dealing with sin, doctrine, and interpersonal relationships. In the church today it seems that cleverness and entertainment are in vogue. Joking around and playful teasing is often an acceptable method of communication. However, while we believe God created us with the ability to express and appreciate humor, we believe that serious situations are to be handled with the sobriety they deserve. We never dance around serious life issues, especially with people whom we believe need instruction.
Peter said, “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7–11)
We are living in the last days of the Church Age, and the needs of the world are great. God has called every believing man, woman, and child to serve the Lord, and exercise the gifts given them. Therefore, we will serve the Lord with gladness, while remembering that if we want to be taken seriously we are called to be serious.
Here at Candlelight we believe that modern-day psychology has had a detrimental effect on Biblical counseling. In fact, we believe that most “Biblical Counseling” has become little more than therapeutic, psychological counseling. Interestingly, there is not even a mention of modern-day counseling practices in the Bible. The Bible has no gift of counseling, and the idea of a person or persons regularly going to another individual for repeated meetings is not a concept found in the Scriptures at all. We do see the occasional interaction between individuals with questions and an associated or corresponding response, but the idea of a believer resting on and finding support in a person holding the office of counselor is not named once.
We do see in Scripture how believers interact with one another and seek the truth found in the Bible. Believers are called to confess their weaknesses to one another, pray for one another, and anticipate healing as the truth of the Word is applied. Additionally we believe wisdom is given to those who ask the “Mighty Counselor”. He responds by His grace at His discretion by His Spirit, and most often through the Word. (See James 1:5, 5:16) In the Bible we read, “His [God’s] divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” (2 Peter 1:3)
We believe that true Biblical counsel is good. We find wisdom, strength, and safety when we seek counsel through the Bible, and through the members of the Body of Christ (Prov. 11:14). We are called to serve one another, and bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Therefore, we counsel one another and provide wisdom using the Bible as our supreme and total authority.
Our method is to listen with a heart of compassion, pray with and for those who seek counsel, and offer Biblical solutions. Therefore, when the Word is obeyed, it is rarely necessary to carry on any regular or long-term counseling obligations.
Our pastors will meet with anyone who wishes to see them. They then make the decision concerning follow-up visits.
Where God Guides He Provides
Today you can turn on any television set and find some preacher begging for money. Many of the same preachers have learned fundraising techniques from skilled fundraising specialists who work for public radio, television stations, or other organizations. They hire them to assist in their fundraising efforts. Many of these same preachers are in financial trouble because they have overextended themselves and their “ministries” while working to prop up a man-made, man centered vision that clearly needs to be left to die.
At the other end of the spectrum are many worthwhile ministries and causes where believers invest their talents, time, and financial resources. Good ministries need funding just like anything else. However, we do not believe we need to beg the members of the Church, manipulate, or otherwise coerce them into funding the work of the ministry.
We believe it is repulsive to beg for financial help. Doing so misrepresents the Lord. He has no need, and will make available all He desires to supply His work – in His time. There is no need to discredit the Gospel with unscriptural methods. The work of God is not teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. God is not poor and does not need us to beg, squeeze, or otherwise manipulate His people to get His work done. The Church is not desperate. We are His workmanship. He will build His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
As believers, we will never fail when we trust the Lord to do as He wishes – with us, and with His resources. Genuine Spirit led ministry will be funded by the Lord through His people. He will provide all that is needed to accomplish what He desires to do. “Where God guides, He provides”. If the Lord has directed us to do something, and the project requires financial support, we believe He will direct His people to get behind it and the needed finances will come in. Furthermore, as believers, we enjoy the blessings of God, and as a result are prone to offer the Lord the first fruits of those things He entrusts to us. It is the joy of every true believer to contribute to the work of the Lord.
Remember, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19)
- The Church belongs to Jesus
- God is more concerned with the minister than He is with the ministry
- God doesn’t need us
- We are servants to the Lord
- We are servants to the sheep
- Minister to the needs of the flock
- Don’t look for ways to have the body serve you. Look for ways you can serve the body
- We are not the Holy Spirit
- Never deliberately create problems. Always use problems as an opportunity to minister
- If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything
- If you don’t know the answer, say so. Don’t fake your way through
- Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you have the right
- Don’t ask anyone to do what you are unwilling to do
- Don’t manipulate
- Feed, don’t beat the sheep
- Lead, don’t push the sheep
- Apologize quickly when in the wrong
- Own responsibility for errors and quickly make amends
- Come early, leave late
Be a Good Listener
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” (James 1:19)
“…be patient toward all men.” (1 Thes. 5:14)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
Be an Example
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
“Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
Be a Peacemaker
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (Romans 14:19)
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks of you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Be a Team Player
“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1)
The Church is the bride of Christ!