LOOKING FOR A MAN
By Bro. Mark Bullen
“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you…For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” Phil. 2:19-21
Paul once gave Timothy a tremendous character reference. In writing to the Philippian Church, he declared that, though most men seek their own agenda, Timothy was genuinely concerned about Christ’s agenda. Men who love to borrow from Christ’s bricks only to build their own castle are “a dime - a — dozen”.
How common it is for people to see the excellence of Christ’s Words, approve of them, embrace them, and adopt them into their own personal world view; but never submit to Christ as Lord — never die to “their way” and become a disciple of Jesus Christ. They do many things in “Jesus’ name”, but never fully submit to what Jesus commanded. It is one thing to agree with much of what Jesus taught; but quite another to submit to His Lordship, and take the “whole counsel of God” instead of “your way”. Submission only has meaning when you obey the will of God when it doesn’t feel good, when you don’t fully understand, and in your own natural mind would disagree — but you believe that, “as the heaven is high above the earth, so are His ways above our ways”. There is no true faith where this full submission to Christ is absent.
I would like to take a moment and commend to you Jesse Herr as an exemplary young man. He will soon be ordained a deacon in our church. Since I have known Jesse I’ve witnessed a number of things which testify of genuine faith and discipleship.
First, the fact that Jesse even came to our fellowship to begin with. He was raised in a Mennonite home, which means a person probably has hundreds of relatives that are Mennonite. It means you have the advantages of the “Menno-net”: a term we use to describe the network of opportunity within the “extended family” of the Mennonite churches. This network of opportunity is not a bad thing, but if you compromise truth to maintain it, it becomes an idol. Because Jesse’s understanding of the Word of God on the “divorce and remarriage” issue was in agreement with ours, but not modern Mennonites, he left a large group with much to offer for a small group with little to offer in the way of employment, marriage possibilities, etc. The fact that modern Mennonites won’t accept people in a second marriage wouldn’t affect Jesse, who was single — but truth was important.
Jesse was more concerned with Christ’s agenda than with Jesse’s desires and ambitions — this speaks of true faith. How many today are willing to be compromised by an unbiblical group for the fringe benefits? How many are violating Christ’s agenda by not even being in a church body, so they can maintain their independent ways? Both cases smack of treason to Christ’s throne. O’ the foolishness of man to think they can improve on God’s ways, because their definition of “success” and “progress” are different from God’s.
Second, I remember witnessing Jesse and Melanie’s courtship. Yes, God did provide a godly bride for the young man who left his “camp” by faith. I have always been impressed with the fact that Noah’s sons all had wives — from where? Who were the in-laws? Take heart, young man or lady, if it is God’s will for you to marry, God can and will provide when you seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!
Anyway, back to Jesse’s courtship: It was a very trying time. I will not go into detail, but after Jesse and Melanie had their hearts set on each other with parental consent, Jesse’s unwillingness to compromise the truth almost cancelled the wedding. Jesse and Melanie, though already in their middle twenties, had determined to not marry without the blessing of their parents. They never forsook this choice though it seemed this would be an impossibility; and they might lose each other. This is very commendable! Where do you see young people today with this kind of commitment to the Word of God?
Thirdly, I want to present the fact that Jesse and Melanie were committed to “hands off” courtship. My wife and I, by God’s grace, did not hold hands until we were engaged to be married; and didn’t kiss until our wedding day. I have never once regretted this, and praise God I can exhort my own children and congregation having done it God’s way myself! Jesse and Melanie didn’t even join hands until their wedding ceremony. Hallelujah! Take that, devil! This is the kind of godliness that Jesus expects. This is called true faith, which submits to God’s will above our own in all things.
If a young man can control himself to keep his hands off a woman until she is his wife, then his wife can trust him after they are married to be faithful! You young people who pet and play before marriage — You will have a trust deficit that will plague your marriage! If you girls marry a boy who can’t control himself, what will guarantee he will control himself after you are married? You boys who marry some girl who has been advertising herself through immodesty; what makes you think she will be content to be “only for you” after marriage? If a girl is rebellious to her parents and Christ, she will be rebellious to her husband and Church.
Jesse and Melanie have laid some wonderful and very important foundation stones to build their home on — This is the kind of leadership we want to set before our youth at Living Faith Christian Fellowship. The modern apostate churches are looking for leaders who are photogenic, charismatic, funny, non-judgmental, and sensual worship leaders — and they get exactly what they want — and more.
In the summer of 2006 our church was attacked through some deceptive doctrines. This attack confused and stumbled some of our brothers, causing them to head off in a wrong path. During this trying time, I was very encouraged by Jesse’s stability and desire to know the facts, not be caught away with emotion. He was able to see through the false doctrines, while others could not. I hope he continues to walk carefully and stay in tune with the LORD. I know he has much to learn, as do we all; but we like the direction he is headed.
Followship determines leadership. You are voting on what kind of churches you want to succeed by who you are supporting or not supporting. If you are looking for entertainment and a therapeutic gos-pill to improve your self-esteem and massage your conscience to sleep; then you can go just about anywhere. But, if you want to advance what Jesus intended for His Bride, and raise many godly generations to inhabit heaven, you must stop floating down stream and swim against the tide — bumping heads continually. The first priority of the church and believer is to please the Lord Jesus, not society.
The reason we are ordaining Jesse Herr is because we want to maintain a body of believers committed uncompromisingly to the whole counsel of God — and willing to grow as our understanding of this grows. We want people whose choices are made by Bible principles, not by feelings or personal preferences. Your choices will either bow to your conscience, or your conscience will bow to your choices, or you will go insane. This is a real struggle that everyone has to grapple with. Either Jesus is LORD, or you are. You either allow Jesus to conform you to his will, or you redefine and create a “Jesus” to fit your will. You either honestly face the issues, or you preserve self at all cost. We want our people to honestly face truth; submit to the Jesus-mold God wants
to press them into; and walk by principles of God’s Word, not by their feelings.
This “mold” includes the local church order. There is “perfecting” (Eph. 4) that saints need, which can only come through the dynamics of living in a church body — a community of true believers. Anyone can feel spiritual and complete when alone. In a church body, your spots and wrinkles will show up. God wants you in this crucible to conform you to the image of Christ. This is God’s plan, and you cannot improve on it, or circumvent it without rebelling against God.
The Ark was a type of Christ’s body. Christ and his apostle’s set up the New Testament churches to fulfill the requirements of being Christ’s body on earth. Christ’s body is not some scattering of independent kinglets doing their own thing in “Jesus’ name”. Christ’s body is made up of local bodies of believers submitted to the Word of God in an orderly format with a Bishop, with deacons as needed, and with accountability to one another to live and earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. If you don’t have this, where is your ark? Will Jesus count you an obedient servant? He set up the program and said, “occupy till I come”, not “innovate as you see fit”.
May we honestly look around at God’s wonderful creation; look honestly at His incredible Word; look honestly at our sinfulness; and with fear and trembling humble ourselves before our awesome creator to believe and obey all his Holy Word.
“If it is all about improving your happiness, you can never be trusted to preserve the truth” - Bro. Mark Bullen