In Bungoma, Kenya, flooding has caused severe damage in many of the town’s business and residential areas. Among those hit was Gospel Believers Fellowship, a long-time Ministry Partner of Living Sacrifice Ministries. Shown in these photos is just a small bit of the damage done to the structures of the church’s main office, its orphanage, and other buildings.If you are interested in knowing how to help GBF, you can contact them directly at http://gbfchurchministries.webs.com/ for more information.
Living Sacrifice Ministries has been providing Bible studies for its Ministry Partners for almost three years. As we have grown, we have found that many of our friends do not have some of our older studies, so as we send them via email, we will also be posting them here for viewing. My apologies for not having all of them in correct order.
Serving Him through Serving Others,
Reverend James M. Dakis
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When defined by Wikipedia, “A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body with its own beliefs and practices within Christianity. Divisions… between one group and another are defined by doctrine and church authority. Issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, eschatology, and papal primacy often separate one denomination from another.” Fair enough I thought, there must be what, a couple hundred or so, if you count even the divisions within the Lutheran church, Methodist Church, Baptist Church, and even count the Serbian, Greek, Russian and other Eastern Orthodox Churches separately. After all, with 1.2billion Roman Catholics in the world according to the same source, and many of the world’s people not even Christians, how many other denominations can there be, right? Are you ready for this…the “incomplete” list reports 41,000! How many did you guess? Were you even close?
Since this blog isn’t about the different denominations within Christianity, their differences, which ones I agree with or don’t disagree with, the only reason I point that out is to show that one thing we can see is that in all the differences there are, one thing is for sure, we don’t all call the people who lead our congregations by the same name or give them the same title. Now, duties are an totally different subject, and a thesis could be written on that. (I may consider that for graduate school). For today, though, let’s address the names/titles of the men and women who teach and preach to us from the pulpit. What do you call him/her? Why? Did you ever stop to think that it mattered, or what the origin of that name or title was?
I was raised in a Greek Orthodox family where the priest was called “Father—” followed by his given first name. We later attended an Episcopal church where again, we called the priest “Father—“, but this time it was his surname. In a military chapel I would have “Chaplain—“, later it would be “Brother—” or “Pastor—” (sometimes first, sometime last name). Was the man a priest, pastor, or minister? Did it matter? Did the church have elders or deacons who assisted in the running of the church? If so, what exactly did they do? If not, why did the last church but not this one? Who is my bishop? What do you mean this church doesn’t have one?
Does this sound more confusing than it should be? Well, it is only because, thanks to the beauty of man getting involved in complicating the things God put in place, it certainly is. It may be simpler to do what is best anyway, and look to Scripture, (wow! What a concept!) and see what names and titles are used to define and describe the clergy anointed by God, what their duties are or were, and if we have a call for them now. Also, we will see if we have, in our ingenious ways as humankind, bestowed titles on our clergy that are nothing more than secular.
First, the title of Priest-At first every man was his own priest, and presented his own sacrifices before God. Afterwards that office devolved on the head of the family, as in the cases of Noah (Gen 8:20), Abraham (Gen 12:7; Gen 13:4), Isaac (Gen 26:25), Jacob (Gen 31:54), and Job (Job 1:5). The name first occurs as applied to Melchizedek (Gen 14:18). Although Moses, himself was of the tribe of Levi, he was not called to be a priest himself, but the Levites were called to serve in this Holy order, and it was Aaron, Moses’ brother, who would serve as the first High Priest. One key thing that separates a priest from the other titles of clergy we will examine is that they represented the people before God, and offered the various sacrifices prescribed in the law. This means that the people are not able to communicate directly with God through prayer, or have God commune directly with them, but must have intercession through the priest. As we know from Scripture, we are not only allowed to pray, but instructed to do so.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (KJV)
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Now, before we get all carried away and over-simplify things, deciding that there is no
Matthew 6:5-7 (KJV)
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
The above mentions of prayer are only two which could not be done if a priest were needed to intercede on the behalf of the believer. Therefore, the duties of the priest, while very much a calling and anointing in the Old Testament, have changed. We are now all priests in the Christian church, so to speak, with Jesus as the High Priest
To assume the role, or give the title of priest in the same manner in which it was given in the Old Testament, whereby the member of the clergy is the sole individual with the ability to have communion with God, to forgive sins, to read or interpret Scripture, or to have special powers or authority almost deifies our clergy. Granted, all members of church leadership are called upon to be of a sense of character above reproach, to have knowledge of Scripture which allows us to answer questions, teach and preach truthfully and wisely, and to be able to give counsel when needed, but never should this be done in any way other than the most humble, as a servant of the Most High.
Elder– A word still used in churches today, but rarely in the context of the first century church, and elder, as explained in Paul’s epistles. Listed almost hand in hand with Bishops, the biggest difference is not duty, but seniority. Elders were to be the spiritual leaders of the church, with not all necessarily having the same spiritual gifts. For example. Elder John may be a wonderful Bible teacher, Elder Franklin may be an excellent expositor, Elder Stephen a caring counselor, and Elder Jim able to discern Scripture. Of these, due to the spiritual maturity, Elder Stephen may be elected Bishop over the church, or “Senior Elder”. It may even be that there are several churches in the church family, and now “Bishop Stephen” is Bishop over all of them. (I, for example, was elected Bishop over the churches of Grace & Truth Ministries last year).
Deacons-Anglicized form of the Greek word diaconos, meaning a “runner,” “messenger,” “servant.” For a long period a feeling of mutual jealousy had existed between the “Hebrews,” or Jews proper, who spoke the sacred language of Palestine, and the “Hellenists,” or Jews of the Grecian speech, who had adopted the Grecian language, and read the Septuagint version of the Bible instead of the Hebrew. This jealousy early appeared in the Christian community. It was alleged by the Hellenists that their widows were overlooked in the daily distribution of alms. In essence, they were responsible for many of the fiscal duties of the temple, and now the church. One way to compare or contrast the duties of a deacon with that of an elder would be to assume that a church was considering implementing a new Bible study program. The elders would be the ones to consider and pray about the spiritual content of the material. Is it Scripturally correct and accurate? Does it fit the doctrines of the church? Is there any deviation from the teachings of the church, or worse, any heresy in it? The deacons, on the other hand, are likely to be the ones to asses the financial feasibility of purchasing the new materials, how many copies can or must be purchased, and from what source.
Special directions as to the qualifications for and the duties of deacons will be found in Acts 6 and 1 Tim 3:8-12 From the analogy of the synagogue, and from the scanty notices in the New Testament, we may think of the deacons or “young men” at Jerusalem as preparing the rooms for meetings, distributing alms, maintaining order at the meetings, baptizing new converts, distributing the elements at the Lord’s Supper, although these are not always adhered to in all churches today.
So, what does this do to answer our questions about names and titles for all clergy today? Do you call the person who leads your worship “pastor”, “minister”, “Father”, “Brother”, or some other name? As you can see, none of these names are even mentioned as titles to be used in the new testament, and the use of them in any way is interesting at best in the Bible. The word “pastor”, which means to shepherd or lead in a protective or guiding manner, certainly would describe the duties of the lead clergy of the Christian church today, but never appears in the Bible as a noun or verb. The word “minister”, which can be a verb, when describing the act of performing an act of ministering to someone, or as a noun when defining the person, is found over eighty times in the Bible, but never as a title in the New Testament Church. An example of both is easily found in Exodus where we also see an Old Testament reference to elders, generally the older, wiser members of the congregation:Exodus 24:13-14 (KJV)
13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them. (Notice that this is a reference to “his minister”, not Joshua, with a title of “Minister”).
Exodus 28:1 (KJV)
1 And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. (that he may minister unto me…the act of ministering to the leader. Note how it takes place to the leader of the people, including the priest).
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. If your church uses “Brother Johnson” to a leader, and it is also the man who is charged with leading the church in worship weekly, don’t think that this author is saying that this is not scriptural. If you refer to him as “Reverend”, and someone says, “Nobody is reverend but God, Himself”, I am not going to say that is wrong for either of you. The truth is, my own business card says, “Reverend James M. Dakis Founder/Director Living Sacrifice Ministries” People call me everything from “Pastor Jim”, “Pastor Dakis”, “Bishop Jim”, “Reverend Dakis”, “Brother Jim”, and just plain, “Jim”. My only issue is when we start awarding titles and names to people which imply a position above that of other men, and a holy status which gives the indication that some kind of power or authority has been granted that God never intended.
After all, we may all be created in His image, but we are all sinners saved by His grace, and in that, we are all the same.
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In the rural town of Bungoma, Kenya, Gospel Believer’s Fellowship, which was founded by Reverend Francis Bushebi in 1964 to address the needs of the local people, miraculous things are happening. Only the work of God can explain such events, as Rev. Francis, his wife Dora, their son Rev. Robert Bushebi and his wife Irene, and the many others who now staff over two hundred churches within the network, bring the Word of God to a nation starving for truth.
In Bungoma town near the Marell area, the orphanage, Jewels for Jesus, operates. As of this writing there are housed just under two dozen children who are either with no parents, or with only one parent who does not have the ability to support him or her. One such example is a family where the mother had six sets of twins and was cast out by her own family and village, with the claim that she was cursed for having so many multiple births. A single mother with so many children, she now has most of them in the care of Jewels for Jesus.
Funding for the children is challenging at best, as it comes through generous donations and gifts given by those who prayerfully choose to give. Some are regular, monthly partners, others give when they can, still others give up a one time love offering. The Lord will not have the same call to each person, but at this time, there are only two children, a set of 4 year old twins who have regular sponsors.
It is my prayer that you will go before the Lord and ask if you would be one who would be called to be there for the children. It may be to give a monthly amount for one child. It may be a one time love offering, or a single item to purchase after finding out a particular need. Rev. Bushebi can be contacted at http://gbfchurchministries.webs.com/ or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
This is a new blog by a new friend and partner of our ministry who has been instrumental in the most recent steps of our development. Thank you Hilary.
Originally posted on Purposed For Good:
It is a hard reality for many to face, but we are all far from perfect. Countless people make it their life’s mission, whether consciously or otherwise, to hide their imperfections from the world and even themselves. Trust me, I speak from experience on this. The truth is, this world is comprised of flawed individuals, including you and I. The good news is this is not where the story ends. Despite our frail human nature, there is a limitless source of love and joy to be had by all if we intentionally tap into the pipeline.
I will be the first person to tell you I am far from perfect, but I am sure I won’t be the last. I have lived a lot of life in my short time on this planet, making a multitude of mistakes along the way. When I sit back and honestly evaluate those unpleasant…
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This is an assessment of the Living Sacrifice Ministries blog you have been following, as we presented it this year. One of the best ways for more people to be able to appreciate what you have been able to is for you to share this with others. Please share this with anyone you think may be interested in what drew you to us to begin with.
God bless you and have a Happy New Years.
Serving Him through Serving Others,
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 430 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.
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Gospel Believers Fellowship Ministry of Bungoma, Kenya, a Ministry Partner of Living Sacrifice Ministry since the beginning, hosted its year end Youth Conference the week before Christmas.
The event was attended by young people, some who came from the families of faithful members of the church, and others coming to hear the Word of God for the first time! As a result, lives were touched, souls were saved, and healing of body, mind, and soul was seen and felt.
Brother Bushebi preached powerfully, but gave all glory to God. Prayer and support information for the ministry can be directed to Brother Bushebi at firstname.lastname@example.org or on their web site at http://gbfchurchministries.webs.com/.
Serving Him through Serving Others,
Pastor Jim Dakis
There was much praising of God and glory given during the conference. Below are a few pictures sent to me to be shared.
In a country of over 1 billion people, where an estimated 34,011,900 are children, estimates show that close to 2,246,000 were orphans in 2010 according to Helping Hand for Orphan Children.
One Christian ministry that has made it a life mission to not only feed and clothe these young souls, but to bring the gospel to them and the surrounding communities, is Church of the Almighty God, which first started with one humble congregation of believers, and has planted additional churches, providing Bibles and ministry tools to further their work.
Knowing that their work is far from over, prayers and support are still needed, and they may be contacted at email@example.com .
Pastor Rao M.A.,I.T.I., Senior pastor of the church, has faithfully overseen operations, and would love to be in contact with you about how you may connect with them.
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Home for Orphan Children: I have been providing shelter, food & Education to 24 orphan children in our Orphan home since two years with little donations. Kindly help us in the name of Jesus Christ to our Orphan children.
Children home meets the spiritual, physical, emotional, & mental needs of homeless and abused children in Guntur district.
We are suffering a lot to feed Orphan Children in our children Home. We need your special Prayers and support.
I am spreading Gospel to people in villages and conducting prayers in their villages regularly. Kindly bless our children in the name of our Lord Almighty and sponsor to these beautiful kids.
I humbly beseech you my dear generous brother have a heart for this letter of mine and please drop a line of communication by e-mail.
Thank you so much.
Your beloved brother in His Ministry,
Andhra Pradesh, India.
PH:91 9440282960 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Located in Busia, Kenya, almost at the border of Uganda, Gospel Light Evangelical Mission has the daunting task of bringing the Word of God to a population that not only if filled with a number of indigenous tribal religions, and about 11% Islams, but also over 60 spoken languages in addition to the officially recognized national tongues of English and Swahili. Many of these are spoken so regionally that to even go from one county to another may pose a challenge in communication.
A country that just over fifty years ago was under the rule of a foreign government for almost a century, they have been stricken with internal conflict ever since. Even today they face challenges from pirates and terrorists who would challenge their sovereignty.
Coupled with the constant battle of drought and monsoon (one will stop just in time for the other to start), there are constant challenges for farmers to keep the people fed.
It is no wonder people of faith have a need to have strong leadership, and why the challenges of the leaders of Gospel Light Evangelical Mission in meeting the needs of the unchurched are that much greater in a nation where doubt and fear run deep.
Pastor Davis Juma Ochieno, and the faithful leaders with whom he works have done remarkable things to bring the Gospel message to all who wish to hear in their little corner of Kenya. If you wish to stand with them in partnership, or learn more about the work they are doing, please feel free to contact Pastor Davis at email@example.com.
Serving Him through Serving Others,
New well being dug.