In Suna-Migori ,Kenya, Living Sacrifice Ministries long-time Ministry Partner, and friend, the Congregation of God, under the leadership of Pastors Jared and Charles Siso, were blessed with an opportunity to bring Christian leaders and future leaders from the community together for a conference that blessed all and further glorified the Lord!
The church itself has had many struggles as we have reported them here and elsewhere, as death has hit the family twice in less than a year with their father going home to be with the Lord most recently. In a time when Kenya and the rest of East Africa are struggling with drought and famine, please lift these saints of God up in prayer.
If you feel led to partner with the Congregation of God in their efforts, you can contact Pastor Charles at email@example.com, or Pastor Jared at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Serving Him through Serving Others,
Reverend James M. Dakis, D. Min
At Holy Grace Tabernacle in Vijayavada, Andhra Pradesh, India, Pastor Nehemiah Sanjay’s works night and day with the people of an impoverished village to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. His tireless work includes teaching and preaching God’s Word, as well as feeding the many poor and disadvantaged of the community. Please join us in praying for this ministry. You can also learn more about how to support them by contacting Paster Nehemiah at +91 81870 07006 or +91 98495 07732.
Located in Suna-Migo, Kenya, The Congregation of God Church has proven a strong and faithful gathering of saints over the past few years. When Pastor George Siso passed away last year, leaving his brothers Jared and Charles at the helm, little did he know that within a year’s time, more loss and heartbreak would come to this small, rural church family.
When Pastor George’s son, Ken first took ill and went home to be with the Lord earlier this year, the only comfort that could be found was that the suffering he had felt was gone and that he was now in the arms of his Savior. Also, he would be reunited with his father in Heaven. However, within months, I was informed by brothers Jared and Charles that their father had now passed away. The patriarch of the family, the man from whom all three brothers had learned so much and had grown, was now being buried.
This is hard enough for any family anywhere in the world. The loss of a family member, particularly a community or church leader. However, in the rural town of Suna-Migo, in drought-stricken Kenya, the financial burden is adding to things in ways that cause stress on the family more than they can sometimes bare.
As a Ministry Partner of Living Sacrifice Ministries, I am asking anyone who feels they can help to stand with my brothers and pray with them. Also, if you feel that the Lord has gifted you with a small amount that you can share with them, please contact Pastor Jared at email@example.com for details on how you can help.
Serving Him through Serving Others,
Reverend James M. Dakis, D. Min.
We live in an age where tattoos are more popular than they probably ever have been. Once reserved for sailors who got them to mark the ports where their ships docked, or to show the love of a girl left behind by a soldier off to war, perhaps to show loyalty to a gang one had been initiated into, the days of “inking” ones body are now so prevalent that in the city where this writer lives, with a population of roughly 93,000 people, we have at this writing, over twenty advertised tattoo shops.
Before I go any further in this discussion, I must disclose that in 1981, at the age of 19, I, too, got a tattoo on my left bicep. Interestingly, I got it there so that, in the event that I wanted it covered by a shirt sleeve, it would not show. This has been very convenient in my professional life. However, the question still remains, is there truly anything sinful about a Christian getting a tattoo. First, in exploring this question, I am assuming that the tattoo is not an image or wording that is obscene or offensive, or in any way brings disgrace to our Lord. I have seen many Christians, both men, and women, with tattoos, and I am not the first one in ministry positions with one. In fact, at least one Senior Pastor of a local church has multiple tats on both of his arms. Some people would argue that so-called “Tattoo Testimonies” are actually good. These would be tattoos depicting Scripture verses or Biblical scenes.
With all that said, what, if anything, does that Bible actually say about the subject? Do we have any record of tattooing even mentioned in Scripture? After all, we make decisions about what God would have us do regarding the use of technology such as computers, viewing of movies, use of various on-line entertainment options and such when there is obviously no direct Scriptural reference to them, so what do we use as a benchmark in cases like this? Quite simply, we must look to the living Word itself and realize that God spoke the commandments of the Law, the instructions to His people, and the words of the Scripture, both Old and New Testaments in ways that they would not only apply to the saints who lived during the 1500 years it took to write them, but for however many years it would be until the return of Jesus Christ for His people.
Let us now use this method of inspection of God’s Word to examine our question. First, the only mention in the Bible that can even remotely refer to tattoos that this author can find, or that I have ever heard of anyone else finding, is Leviticus 19:28, which reads, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you:I am the Lord.” Several things must be considered at this point, the least of which may be, as I mentioned, that this is the only mention of anything that may be tattooing made in the Bible. Furthermore, archeologist and other researchers note that the Israelites had been captive in Egypt at a time when it was not uncommon for slaves to sometimes be marked by their masters with cuts or marks to show ownership. These marks were sometimes more like hot iron brandings. In some cases, although it appears it was only with females, tattooing was also used. Cutting was also used by these and other pagans as a way of showing devotion and sacrifice to their gods. It is most likely because of this context that the apostle makes this statement. Another thing we must remember is a standard for studying the Bible that I not only learned at Salt Lake Bible College but have heard countless other times. That is to never form doctrine based on one verse of Scripture alone. Read the text before and after. Then, look for the first reference to the subject and the last, or at least an earlier and later. I prefer to do all of the above, and when possible, reference both Old and New Testament sources. This falls apart to some extent here because, as I already mentioned, tattooing is not mentioned elsewhere. However, when we look at other similar references about how to care for a person’s body and personal appearance, let’s see what we find. In I Timothy, Paul is writing Timothy, a man much younger than he, with instructions for general behavior and expectations in the churches now in his charge. Here we read, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” I Timothy 2:9-10. Furthermore, Peter makes a similar statement in I Peter 3:3-4,”Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Some have taken this so literally as to believe that women are to wear no make-up, not braids or dress up their hair with any adornments, and dress plainly almost to the point of being boring. In fact, as is seen when we compare this to Paul’s writings to the church in Corinth, the warning was in order to keep people from putting so much emphasis on physical appearances that Sunday morning worship was more of a fashion show and “Keeping up with the Jones” than it was worshiping God. I point this out because it is the closest thing to an example of a Biblical statement or instruction not to do something which is not, in my opinion, as literal a commandment as some would take it without further examination.
So, what then, is my stance on Christians getting tattoos? To this point, I seem to have done everything but answer that question. In fact, I was asked that very question several years ago when I was teaching a Bible study class at another church. I got a call at home from a student, who had a tattoo himself and knew that I had one, but was concerned because his daughter wanted to get one, and wanted to know what the Bible said about it. Now, without further ado, I will tell you what I told him. One thing we must remember as Christian above anything else is that we are giving testimony in everything we do and say. We are giving it also in the way we look. This is part of what was being addressed in the text we read earlier about women dressing “modestly”. It can also include the places we frequent and what we do when we are there. Paul, realizing that eating meat sacrificed to idols was not sinful, was trying to teach this to the people in the new churches, but many new Christians who had once viewed this sacrificial meat as sacred and powerful had a hard time coming to grips with it. For this reason, he made this statement in I Corinthians 8:13, “13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” The same can be said about other activities we, as Christians may see nothing wrong with, (assuming that they truly are not sinful), but that make other Christians uncomfortable, or harm our testimony to the unsaved who may otherwise be won to Christ. If I think that getting a tattoo will weaken my testimony when I try to talk to others about Christ, particularly that family member who has been a skeptic, or perhaps that person who has been particularly critical of every Christian, is this going to help or hinder my testimony? One more question to ask is does this bring glory to God? After all, this should be the question in the forefront of our minds with everything we do. Paul reminds us of this quite clearly in I Corinthians 10:31, when he says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”. If you can honestly say that the tattoo that has a Bible verse is bringing glory go God and not just getting you compliments, or that the picture of a rose, your wife’s name, or whatever you may feel that it is fine. However, may I suggest to you the same thing I would regarding any decision a Christian brother or sister asks about. Pray about it first. Ask God what His will is for you. Get Godly counsel from someone you trust, ( my counsel here should not be considered sufficient, and by no means, do not leave out praying).
Many decisions we make in life are not as cut and dry as we hope they would be. We don’t live in a black and white world, and even the Bible doesn’t give black and white answers to everything at first glance. This is in part because situations are different for each of us. The answer for everything from career choices, decisions to marry, how and where to spend the money God gives us, are all things that we must go to Him about in prayer. Don’t neglect something like this either, just because you don’t think it is important. You are important in God’s plan, and so are your decisions.
Serving Him Through Serving Others,
Reverend James M. Dakis, D. Min
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.
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.