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Recently I heard a great prophetic teacher (Thamo Naidoo from South Africa) mention in his message that there is a difference between apostles of churches and apostles of Christ. He said that while there were many apostles of churches, there were only very few true apostles of Christ on the earth today. That one statement exploded on the inside of me and gave me much illumination.  I had never heard anyone make this delineation before, but it makes a lot of sense to me. The following is what I have unpacked in the scriptures since Thamo made this statement.

Essentially, the word apostle means a person who is sent to represent another, whether a king, kingdom, or entity like a church. 1 Corinthians 12:28 teaches that God places first in the church apostles, since they are sent by God to represent Him in a city to pioneer a beachhead (a church or ekklesia as shown in Matthew 16:18-19) for city transformation.

Apostles are the “sent ones” who represent the essence of what the church vision or mission is all about. In John 17, Jesus constantly referred to the fact that He was sent by the Father to the world, which is one reason why Hebrews 3:1 refers to Jesus as our Apostle. Jesus was God’s Apostle sent into the world to redeem it. In Revelation 22:14 we see the term “the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” There will never be another apostle added to that list since there were only twelve. However, it seems evident (at least to me) that Paul was also an apostle of Christ, which means this general category was not limited to merely 12 in total. Paul qualified his apostleship not only by planting churches but also by seeing Jesus (1 Cor. 9:1), which means that apostles at this level must have experienced a dynamic encounter and intimate walk with the Lord.

In the New Testament there were dozens of people identified as apostles. It is my view that since Paul was an apostle of Christ his apostleship transcended the churches he founded. Although Paul did not found the church in Rome, he was respected enough by the general body of Christ that he was able to write the letter to the Romans with apostolic weight and authority as if he was the one who planted it. Hence, apostles of Christ garner a high level of respect beyond the borders of their own church networks, even though they would never attempt to supplant the authority of an apostolic leader who is the founder and/or leader of another network (unless there was heresy or a gross violation of biblical ethics).

Also, Paul warned that there were some who were masquerading as apostles of Christ (2 Cor. 11:13), which probably means that this term (apostle of Christ) was used to identify some significant apostles who were not one of the original twelve. Furthermore, in 2 Cor. 8:23 Paul identified some as “apostles of the churches” (not “apostles of Christ”) which I believe refers to the fact that these leaders only had limited recognized apostolic authority related to representing a particular constellation of churches. Since apostles of Christ directly represent the Lord Jesus, they have a burden and calling for the whole body of Christ and/or a large expression of the global body of Christ. Apostles of Christ are also trans-cultural, trans-generational, and are more loyal to the Kingdom of God than to a specific geopolitical affinity.

The following are ten characteristics of apostles of Christ:

1. Apostles of Christ Build the Kingdom.
Oftentimes, church apostles are just focused on their local church and/or their network or denomination. One of the reasons is because their assignment is limited to those works they personally oversee or have founded. They do not have the grace or leadership capacity to go beyond their particular church system, doctrine and/or culture. On the other hand, apostles of Christ have an ambassadorial call that transcends any one church, movement or denomination. Hence, even if they try to focus on one group or movement, God will constantly pull them into other church communities and/or nations to build apostolic foundations related to doctrine or Kingdom life.

2. Apostles of Christ Are Not Hierarchical.
Generally speaking, church apostles can be caught up in titles, measures of influence within their movement, and/or church politics. Apostles of Christ do not personally crave titles (they will use them when appropriate) and do not need institutional church structures to validate their ministry or calling.

3. Apostles of Christ Don’t Strive For Recognition.
Philippians 2 teaches us that Jesus made Himself of no reputation. Apostles of Christ are often hidden and do not seek public attention, since they are already rooted strongly in their identity as sons of God and have no innate need for public acclaim.

4. Apostles of Christ Are Not Driven by Money.
Apostles of Christ have so much faith in their assignment from God, they trust God will provide all their needs as long as they are in His will. They do not go to a place to minister only because the offerings are good but will go only where the Lord is leading. Paul said he did not peddle the word of God for money (2 Cor. 2:17) and the apostle Peter warns shepherds not to minister for dishonest gain (1 Peter 5:2). Although I believe those who labor in the word full-time are worthy of double honor and should make a living from the gospel (1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Cor. 9:14), the bottom line for apostles of Christ is the will of God, not material gain.

5. Apostles of Christ Lay Down their Lives for the Gospel.
All of the original 12 Apostles (except John) as well as the apostle Paul were martyred for the gospel. As Jesus laid down His life for the sheep (John 10) those who represent Him are willing to die daily (Revelation 12:11; Acts 20:24; Galatians 2:19-20) whether it is to their own will or to literally lose their lives.

6. Apostles of Christ Have a Servant’s Heart.
Apostles of Christ are unassuming, do not have an entitlement mentality, have a servant’s heart, and do not lead with a top-down autocratic approach like the rulers of the Gentiles (Mark 10:42). They mimic Jesus’ words when He said that the greatest in the Kingdom is the one who serves (Mark 10:43-45).

7. Apostles of Christ Have Divine Influence and Calling Beyond their Network of Churches.
Although the apostle Paul strove not to preach where Christ was already named (Romans 15:20) his greatest epistle was to the church at Rome, where he endeavored to go in spite of the fact he was not their founding apostle. Paul had vast influence way beyond the primary sphere of activity he was focusing on (Read 2 Corinthians 10:10-14). His influence has even reached to us 2,000 years later through his inspired New Testament writings.

Since apostles of Christ represent the Lord Himself, by nature they have to be trans-national, trans-cultural, and multi-generational and have a desire for Kingdom advancement, not just the enlargement of their church networks.

8. Apostles of Christ Have an Intimate Walk with God.
Since apostles of Christ have to represent Jesus and not merely a church or denomination (of course all believers are called to represent Christ but apostolic callings have a greater measure of responsibility), they are obligated to know God intimately and walk in His presence and power.  All of the original 12 apostles walked with Jesus personally for more than three years before they were launched into their ministry, and Paul the apostle had a personal encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). All true apostles of Christ will have a driving passion to know God and to make Him known.

9. Apostles of Christ Endure Great Hardship.
Paul validated his apostleship by the immense hardships he endured, not just by signs and wonders and church planting (2 Corinthians 11:17-12:8). Paul said (1 Cor. 4:9) that apostles live like those condemned dying in the arena (or have the sentence of death upon themselves). This kind of apostolic leader must have the capacity for high-stress leadership combined with the kind of emotional maturity to deal with all kinds of difficulties that the average person could never endure.

10. Apostles of Christ Live in Simplicity.
Apostles of Christ do not need or desire to live a life of extreme luxury and opulence. Their spiritual and psychological needs have already been met through their deep and abiding relationship with Christ. They have been so satisfied with living with the person and presence of God that they count all things as dung compared to knowing Him (Philippians 3:8-14)! Their greatest desire in life is to fellowship with Him, meditate on the scriptures, and serve God’s people and Kingdom. Consequently they do not need to drive the most expensive cars, live in the largest houses or make a huge salary in order to be satisfied in this life. Consequently, they live in simplicity, are content with little and are not driven to pursue material possessions and pleasure.

After seeing these 10 traits, we can see how there are only very few apostles of Christ in this world. May the Lord raise more up in these days so the body of Christ can fully advance!

10 Differences Between Real Pastors and Hyped-Up Entertainers
By Joseph Mattera

There is a great tendency in human nature to crave the affirmation of other human beings. With some people, their need for affirmation is so great it hinders their ability to discern between the will of God and the will of man. What is more alarming is the fact that those who lead churches and Christian organizations are not exempt from this tendency.

The fact of the matter is, if you are a local church pastor, chief executive officer of a ministry or business, you are called to lead not entertain. Many do not understand the difference. If your primary goal is to make people happy, become an entertainer, not a leader. Leaders by nature should be on the cutting edge of God’s will, which challenges people to leave their comfort zones.

Often times this causes people to be upset with their leaders. The leader also should keep people accountable to standards of excellence. This becomes especially difficult when a leader is close friends or family with those aligned under their spiritual authority. Many do not understand how to discern between business and friendship, and it causes a rift in the relationship.

The following are ten contrasts between entertainers and leaders:

1. Entertainers’ primary goal is to make people happy. A leader’s goal is to empower/provoke people to excellence.

An entertainer’s primary focus in their ministry is to keep their people happy and satisfied. Sometimes folks are happy because they are comfortable and feel secure but their own hearts are deceiving them. A true leader’s primary goal is to disturb the comfortable and provoke them to excellence. For example, if an athlete never pushed himself to the point of pain in his training, he will never excel. True leaders push their people to the perimeter of their potential in Christ.

2. Entertainers perform. Leaders lead.

Entertainers put all their effort into the public performance of their speaking, worship team, visual effects and appearance. They do not take a lot of time evaluating whether their followers are truly growing in Christ. A true leader cares about their public appearance, but puts more time focusing on bringing people into the promised land of their destinies.

3. Entertainers avoid disagreement at all costs. Leaders often provoke disagreement and discomfort.

Since entertainers crave affirmation because of their own lack of self-esteem, they will attempt to avoid strife and disagreement with their people. True leaders don’t really care so much about disagreement because their main motivation is to move people from passivity to purpose.

4. Entertainers gauge their success based on numbers. Leaders base their success on obedience to their assignment.

Entertainers count nickels and noses. It’s all about church attendance and offerings. If both are high then they are happy. True biblical leaders gauge their success on remaining faithful to the call of God upon their lives and organization. For example Jeremiah is considered one of the greatest prophets of all time, but yet he had only a few who believed him. He was not only rejected by his leaders and thrown into prison, he also died in exile.

Furthermore, when Isaiah received his mandate from God (Isaiah 6), God told him nobody would listen to him and the cities would eventually become desolate! John the Baptist only had a six month ministry and died in prison, yet Jesus called him the greatest person ever born of a woman (Mat. 11:11).

By today’s standards of success, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and John the Baptist, to name a few, were very unsuccessful! Even Jesus only had one hundred and twenty true followers after more than three years of ministry (Acts 1). However, the true gauge of success in the kingdom is obedience to our assignments, not numbers.

5. Entertainers are popular with the mainstream. Leaders are often disdained by the mainstream.

Entertainers always put their hand in the air to sense where the wind is blowing and then they will go in that direction. They are politicians who crave the vote of the majority, and care little about the holy minority. They will preach only what will receive the least resistance and will always stand on the edges of compromise so not to offend. It is not just what they say, but what they will not say that matters. (They will never say anything controversial when it comes to social and moral values.)

Leaders (like Dr. Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill) speak the truth even when it could cost them their careers or their lives. When true leaders lead, they are often on the prophetic edge of what God is saying and only have “innovators and early adopters” as their followers. It is easy to go with the mainstream, difficult to swim upstream; leaders swim upstream and are countercultural.

6. Entertainers make people feel good. Leaders transform people.

Entertainers dream about how they can make people feel good. Leaders dream about how they can make disciples that will transform the world. Entertainers focus on attracting the crowds, leaders like Jesus, focus on the few that will eventually build a movement that will transform the world.

7. Entertainers long for acceptance. Leaders provoke respect.

Entertainers live to be loved and liked, while leaders primarily desire influence and respect. For example, good parents are not always liked, but are respected by their children when they have to correct them because they have their best long-term interests in mind. Likewise, leaders understand that maintaining respect is more important to release the purpose of God than garnering social acceptance and likeability. Jesus wasn’t always liked and understood, but His followers (John 6:60-71) always respected him.

8. Entertainers are focused on the present. Leaders are focused on the future.

Entertainers are focused on making people feel happy in the moment. They base all their strategies around programs, hype, and visceral experiences that lift people’s souls. Leaders not only want to emotionally lift the souls of others, they want to transform the lifestyle of people’s souls towards a divine trajectory.

9. Entertainers focus on their public persona. Leaders focus on their interior lives.

Many entertainers spend hours in front of the mirror practicing their public speaking, reviewing their body language and appearance. They focus primarily on their outward appearance so as to attract the most followers. In contrast, true leaders focus more on their interior lives and give God space to transform their souls. They obey the words of Jesus who said to first cleanse the inside of the cup and then the outside will also be clean (Matt. 23:26).

10. Entertainers receive the accolades of men. Leaders receive their accolades from God.

At the end of the day, entertainers may go down in history as being popular with men, but what will the verdict be when they stand before God? In eternity it will be known that many loved the glory that comes from men more than the glory that comes from God (John 12:43).

Leaders may not always be the most popular ones while they are alive, but they will be received into eternity with a rich reward and will eventually have the most influence on the earth with men.

pope-francis-usa-visit

SEVEN REASONS WHY I AM NOT A ROMAN CATHOLIC
By Joseph Mattera

With the election of Pope Francis and his imminent visit to the United States, there is a resurgent interest in the Roman Catholic Church. It is without dispute that the Roman Catholic Church is a major force in the earth with 1.5 billion adherents, its roots in the first century church, it has historically been an amazing bulwark against the secular humanistic tide of liberal social values, and has a vast array of effective institutions such as universities, hospitals, charitable organizations and adoption agencies to name a few.

It also goes without saying that the divisions in the church since the first millennia have weakened the influence of Christianity in the nations. (I wish there was never a split between the Roman and Eastern Church, and then between the Protestant and Roman Catholic Church.) Also, Vatican II made many good and necessary changes that made the Roman Catholic Church more relevant and biblical.

Furthermore, I have worked closely with many Roman Catholic leaders who were just as committed to scripture as I am, and I also know many who have a deep relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

So then, why am I not a Roman Catholic practitioner? (Keep in mind that I was raised a Roman Catholic.)

The following are seven reasons why I am not a Roman Catholic:

1. They have institutional unity without oneness with the Father and Son (John 17:20-23).

No doubt the Roman Catholic Church has a strong understanding of the church (ecclesiology) that outshines most Protestants and Evangelicals. However, their claim to be the one true Catholic (universal) church is undermined by their distinct “Roman” name. As soon as you say “Roman” you demonstrate that it is only one aspect of God’s church and not representative of the whole Body.

Also, just because they have organizational unity and historical continuity does not mean they function in the “oneness” demanded by the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-23. This biblical oneness first and foremost is spiritual and organic because it is supposed to mimic the ontological oneness of Jesus and the Father. Many make the mistake of equating political, programmatic, hierarchical and institutional unity for biblical oneness. You can have this kind of unity without spirituality. The oneness Jesus described implied a spiritual, mystical unity that transcends titles and structures, resulting in spiritual power that causes the world to believe in Jesus.

Although the Protestant Reformation resulted in thousands of denominations, those congregations and individuals that preach the gospel and uphold the Word of God have a commonality that unifies them irrespective of institutional structures.

2. They believe in papal authority over the church universal.

As much as I like the present pope as person, he has no biblical grounds to be the titular head of the church universal. Just a cursory reading of the book of Acts 11-15 shows that the Apostle Peter deferred to James (half-brother of the Lord Jesus) as the apostolic leader of the church. Since the Pope claims apostolic succession from Peter, this biblical narrative undermines the Petrine view of papal authority.

Also, reading church history shows that in the first five centuries of the church, there was never universal acclaim that the bishop of Rome was the bishop over all other bishops. The bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople as well as those from several other cities, all vied for positions of power and did not initially cede their final authority to Rome. Furthermore, one of the primary reasons the Eastern Church separated from Rome approximately 1000 years ago was because they refused to recognize ultimate papal authority.

Consequently, there is no substantive biblical or historical proof that the bishop of Rome was set up by the Apostle Peter (or by God) as the bishop of all other bishops.

3. They practice Mary worship.

While I believe that Mary was the most blessed of all people because she had the privilege of giving birth (as a virgin) to the lord Jesus Christ, to say that she is the greatest human ever born (besides Christ) is unbiblical, because Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest human ever born. (Matthew 11:11, since Mary was also born of a woman, John was greater than her.)

The fact that many in the Roman Catholic Church worship Mary is seen in the following popular Roman Catholic song devoted to Mary;

“Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! Our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping, in this valley of tears? Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.”

While there are various views regarding Mary, the fact that the Roman Catholic Church prays to her to intervene on our behalf in such prayers as the “Hail Mary” and “Rosary”, violates what Jesus taught us in John 14-16 when He taught the church to ask the Father in the Name of Jesus. Furthermore, 2 Timothy 2:5 says that there is only one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. So to ask Mary or any of the saints to go to the Father on our behalf is against the clear teaching of scripture.

There are supposedly five major dogmas regarding Mariology (the study of Mary in the Roman Catholic Church).

The first one, in the Council of Ephesus is biblical, but the next four dogmas are as unbiblical as you can get! Basically saying that she ascended body and soul into heaven without sin, that she was co-redemptrix with Jesus, that she was born without original sin and that she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ. (Matthew 13:55-56 mentions the names of the other children Mary had with Joseph and Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph knew her not (did not have intercourse) until after the birth of Christ, implying that she did not remain a virgin.)

Romans 6:23 also teaches that all humans have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Mary notwithstanding!

Check out the following five dogmas related to Mary.

“Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh. Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. Mary, at her conception, was preserved immaculate from Original Sin. ‘Perpetual virginity of Mary’, means that Mary was a virgin before, during and after giving birth.”

Although there are only four Marian dogmas, popular support for a “fifth Marian dogma” which establishes Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix appeared in the 20th century both from lay groups and the clergy. According to L’Osservatore Romano, in 1996 the Holy See formed a commission to seek the opinion of scholars regarding the possibility and the opportuneness of establishing a fifth Marian dogma on Mary as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. A lay movement called Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici is promoting the doctrine of Mary as Mediatrix and provides petitions that can be signed by Roman Catholics at large and sent to the Pope in support of a formal dogmatic definition.

4. They practice celibacy in the priesthood.

The first command God gave Adam and Eve was to bear fruit and multiply (Genesis 1:28), which means as a married couple they were to have children. 1 Timothy 4:3 says that those who forbid marriage are teaching a doctrine of demons! To force men and women who want to serve God to take vows of poverty and remain celibate opened up a door for many sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church. It is not good that man should be alone and marriage is a sacred sacrament instituted personally by God. I totally disagree with the Roman Catholic Church in this area and cannot support such a doctrine. (Of course, it is cheaper for the Roman Catholic Church to support single men and women then those who get married and have children. So this doctrine may also be driven by economics more than theology.)

5. They equate church traditions and canon law as equal to the writings of the Bible.

The Roman Catholic Church believes that since the church gave scripture, the church has a right to change it. Hence, they place church traditions, which arose out of their various councils and canon law, on equal ground and/or above the Bible. This is why they can and will continue to hold to unbiblical doctrines such as praying for the departed saints, asking the saints in heaven to intercede for them, purgatory, and infant baptism (paedo baptism) to name a few. (Not even Vatican II corrected the error regarding tradition and scripture.)

6. They have allowed a culture of secularism in their seminaries.

By and large, the Roman Catholic Church places natural law as either above or equal to the Bible in regards to epistemology (the process of discovering truth). Consequently, when a person attends a Roman Catholic Church seminary to study for the priesthood, they will probably learn that classical philosophy; anthropology, sociology, psychology, and all the sciences, serve as the primary grid for determining truth while the Bible is used as an ancillary epistemological tool at best.

Furthermore, when they determine that science and the Bible clash, the biblical narrative is regarded as myth and parabolic. It’s no wonder that many priests, nuns and bishops have a liberal higher critical view of the Bible which eventually leads to dumbing down the Bible to fit cultural norms.

7. They violate the spirit of the teachings of Christ as found in Matthew 23.

Generally as we read this amazing discourse of Christ, He compares man-made religion with the true faith. Man-made religion focuses on hierarchical structures, titles, pomp, institutional power, religious attire, and man-made traditions more than inward holiness and relational faith. The Roman Catholic Church generally seems to fit into this framework. Many in these structures have a form of godliness but deny the power (2 Timothy 3: 5).

This is not to say that just because someone has a high church service and wears clerical garb that they are not manifesting true Christianity. However, from my perspective, the Roman Catholic Church is a massive institutional structure that too often emphasizes the ritual over knowing the manifest person and presence of Christ. (Of course, you can also place some Orthodox and Protestant groups in this Matthew 23 category as well.)

All creation yearns for the true manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19), and our world will not be transformed with mere religion and ritual.

In closing, in spite of all of the above, I still hope and pray for a greater working relationship between Roman Catholics and Evangelicals, especially as concerning biblical ethics in culture and freedom of religion (First Amendment issues). As persecution becomes more intense, we will all be forced to work closer together. We probably have more in common than that which divides us. My prayer is also that all expressions of Christianity including Protestant Evangelicalism become more biblical and Christ-like so the world will believe that Jesus was sent by the Father.

[Source: http://josephmattera.org/seven-reasons-why-i-am-not-a-roman-catholic/]

IS “GRAVE SUCKING” ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF “CHARISMANIA”?
By Joseph Mattera

grave-sucking

There is something gaining more attention in some circles of the charismatic world called “grave sucking”.

Evidently, this refers to the practice of a believer going to the grave of a departed saint they revere (for example, Charles Finney or Kathryn Kuhlman) and lay on top of it and/or kneel in front of it so they can receive an impartation of the anointing (or mantle) of the departed saint.

This is nothing new. I heard several decades ago that Benny Hinn supposedly visited the gravesite of evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman to get her healing anointing. I also heard recently that a respected prophetic teacher I know visited the grave of Charles Finney (19th century revivalist) and had a tremendous experience with God as He renewed his vision and call to revive America. (Not sure this one exactly fits in the same category or that this leader would consider his experience “grave sucking”.) [We’re pretty sure by that leader’s explanation that it does NOT fit in the same category and that he does not consider his experience “grave sucking.” —Editor]

Also, regarding the possible connection between a manifestation of God at the grave of a departed saint, there is a story in 2 Kings 13:20-22 in which a person came back to life after he was inadvertently thrown into the grave of Elisha the prophet and happened to touch his bones!

While I am sure there are many well-intentioned and even some effective ministers who practice “grave sucking,” I have serious concerns regarding it. [We do not share this view that any ministers who practice it are well-intentioned or that they are “effective ministers,” except for the kingdom of darkness. One of the “effective ministers” the author is no doubt referring to is the New Age Neo-Charismatic leader of Bethel Church, Redding, CA, Bill Johnson, whose endorsement and encouragement of the practice was recently addressed in SLM. —Editor]

Before I list these concerns I want to say up front that I appreciate the fact that there is now more and more respect for church history. Furthermore, Hebrews 12:1-2 teaches us that the present day church is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses; this refers to the saints who have passed on to glory before us. This means that the church of the past is connected to the present and future church and that the First Testament saints are part of the New Testament church!

To be fair, I think any time we come face to face with a significant historical artifact, it can have a profound effect on us because the reality of the biblical or historical story becomes more real. This is why we visit museums; this is why many people are greatly affected when they visit one of the death camps of the Nazi Jewish Holocaust and why many Christians go to Israel and are blessed. It is an amazing experience to see firsthand the land of the Bible and to physically see the places where the saints of old walked with God.

I am sure that if I visited the grave of one of my heroes like Finney, Calvin or Luther, I would be greatly blessed. Not because their anointing is still in the grave but because the physical marker (their graves) may aid me in believing and remembering their lives and legacies, which could open me up by faith to go to another level with God. If that is all these so called “grave suckers” are doing then I am fine with it.

However, this is not the impression I am getting from what I have heard.

The following are seven concerns I have about grave sucking:

1. It distracts from the true power source of our anointing.

The Word of God is clear that the true source of our anointing is from God (Acts 1:8). James 4:4 teaches that if we draw near to God He will draw near to us. Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1 and 119, and 2 Timothy 3:15-16 teach that meditation on the word day and night is the key to our biblical success. Many charismatics want shortcuts to the anointing and desire results from an instant microwave experience or a one-time event. Instead of wasting their time traveling to “grave suck”, they should discipline themselves to seek God, pour over His word and dig down deep in His presence.

2. We get equipped for the work of the ministry by the present-day fivefold ministry gifts.

Ephesians 4:7-12 teach us that the grace we need to minister comes from the ministry gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers. Reading the context of the Bible clearly shows that the equipping and grace/impartation we need comes from those we are sitting under and trained by, not those who have already died. Hence, the spirit that was on Moses came upon 70 elders (Numbers 12) and then upon Joshua (Numbers 27) to help equip them to lead, but that experience was handed down personally to those who walked with Moses. We do not read about others in later generations getting Moses’ spirit; the same when Elijah passed his mantle onto Elisha.

Regarding John the Baptist coming in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17-19): that was referring to God divinely placing an assignment upon John from birth, it did not come from John finding Elijah’s grave and sucking out the anointing! Furthermore, John was carrying on the next phase of a ministry Elijah started and was perhaps the last in a line of prophets from the school of the prophets Elijah led at one time (which was started by the prophet Samuel).

Hence, the anointing, spiritual DNA and legacy of a person can be extended generationally via a divine assignment and/or training and impartation, but not through “grave sucking”.

3. The only spirit of a departed person that is promised is the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus.

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His followers after He left the earth (John 14-16) which He said would empower us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Consequently, the spirits of the departed saints are not sent down from heaven nor are they dispensed from the place where their bodies were buried.

4. It can make an experiential doctrine out of a mysterious unique biblical story.

As mentioned, 2 Kings 13 gives us a story of a person who came back to life after touching the bones of Elisha. Some have no doubt that the power of God was still in his grave and/or that the miracle-working anointing of Elisha was still residually present on his bones. We have to remember that this is a strange, unique, mysterious story and that it is dangerous to formulate a doctrine and/or practice based on one obscure passage. This is how cults have started. We need to compare scripture with scripture and if there is an isolated obscure passage we encounter, then we should refrain from conjecture and not make a doctrine out of it until we can establish a clear biblical pattern. Also, it must be noted that the person in this passage was raised from the dead. The Bible does not indicate that he received Elisha’s anointing, mantle or became a prophet.

Furthermore, that may have been just one sovereign act of God to remind the Jews of their heritage and the unique prophetic calling Elijah handed down to Elisha.

5. The spirit, power and anointing of these saints is no longer in the ground.

The Bible teaches that when believers are absent from the body they are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). This implies that our spirit leaves our body when we physically die. Hence, it is no longer on the earth and thus no longer in the grave.

6. It can lead to saint worship and necromancy.

One thing I greatly respect in the Christian Eastern Orthodox tradition is their love of the (spiritual) fathers and patriarchs. Unfortunately, some have taken their reverence too far and worship and pray to images of departed saints. There is a fine line between venerating the saints of old and worshipping them, especially to those who may be biblically ignorant among them. Also, many in this tradition have put the writings of the apostolic fathers (those leaders of the church who came after the first-century apostles) on the same level of scripture, something I disagree with for many reasons too numerous to cite here.

In the Roman Catholic tradition we actually see the official practice of Mary worship and saint worship. Furthermore, it is common for a Roman Catholic to pray to one of the canonized departed saints. Whenever we go to a departed saint for something instead of directly to Jesus we violate scriptures like 2 Timothy 2:5 and John 14:6, since we only have one designated mediator between God and man: Jesus Christ. Grave sucking comes perilously close to saint worship and, if not corrected, could also lead to communing (speaking) with departed saints. After all, if we can receive an anointing from the grave of a departed saint, who is to say we cannot receive advice and/or life altering visions from that same saint?

Finally, this could eventually lead to necromancy, which is witchcraft and has to do with conjuring up the spirits of the dead. Scripture teaches this is wrong even if you are trying to contact a departed saint (1 Samuel 28).

7. This could further divide the body of Christ.

Grave sucking seems like lunacy, not just to nonbelievers but probably to most Bible-believing Christians. Why? Because there is no specific biblical pattern that demonstrates it and/or commands or encourages it. Consequently, it further perpetuates the belief many hold in the evangelical camp that charismatics emphasize subjective experience more than the authority of scripture. Possibly the worst thing about grave sucking is that it could further divide the body of Christ at a time when we need true believers to unite more than ever before.###

[We agree that “grave sucking” is lunacy and another item on the long and growing list of demonically-inspired practices of Charismania and Charismaniacs. We also, however, believe that the time has come to name and call out the so-called leaders who espouse and promote such clearly demonic, New Age practices, such as the apparent chief leaders of same at this time, Bill and Beni Johnson, who we believe to be very, very spiritually dangerous people, in that they are leading multiplied thousands around the world into Biblically-condemned New Age religious practices and anti-Christ “doctrines of demons.” —Editor]

7 Reasons I’m Not a Christian Dominionist
By Joseph Mattera

There have been some in the Christian camp who have labeled themselves Christian dominionists, possibly because they refer to the original covenant found in Genesis 1:26-28 as “the Dominion Mandate” and because they advocate a top-down approach regarding the imposition of biblical ethics on secular society.

Regarding my teachings on the kingdom, some with an anti-Christian bias have no doubt referred to me as a Christian dominionist even though I preach against it. These folks try to label and intimidate any Christian leader who believes biblical ethics belong in the public square.

Since I am not in agreement with Christian dominionist language, methodology and/or conceptual framework, I will use this missive to give seven reasons why I am not a Christian dominionist. Some reasons are theological and some methodological.

1. The word “dominion” in Genesis 1:28 is not referring to the exerting of dominion over humanity.

As we examine this passage we realize God never commanded Adam to exert dominion over other human beings, but to have stewardship over the created order. (Read the context in Genesis 1:29-30.)

Consequently, I have theological issues with those who use language like “God has called the church to take our cities!” The church is never called to force the gospel message upon the general public. Of course, when a law that reflects biblical ethics becomes public policy, the civil authorities should enforce its application, which is much different from forced conversions.

In a pluralistic society such as the United States, only those who win the public’s perception earn the right (meritocracy) to frame culture with their worldview. Instead of using force or depending upon mere political coercion, Christians are called to prove that their biblical values best serve society in the context of everyday life.

2. The New Testament model for gospel influence is through service, not through coercion.

The New Testament equivalent to dominion is influence. Jesus modeled how the church is to have influence when He washed the feet of His disciples and said that the greatest in the kingdom is the one who serves. Those who serve eventually lead because they become the problem solvers of their families and communities. Jesus did not just preach the Word, but He met the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the people.

Consequently, if we want to influence a city, we don’t take it but rather love and serve it. The problem with the early church after Emperor Constantine began to favor Christianity (A.D. 313) was not that Jesus was proclaimed the universal or imperial ruler, but that the church transmuted itself and became elitist in nature. In some ways the oppressed (the church) became the oppressor and the Roman Empire influenced the church more.

3. I do not believe politics is the primary means to kingdom influence.

As a case in point, the Christian Right put most of their time and money into political elections since the late 1970s. Although they have won many elections which include two presidencies (Reagan and Bush), they have lost the public relations battle with the secular humanists, and lost influence in the majority culture. Consequently, while they were focusing on mere politics their opponents focused on the music, arts and entertainment industries and won the hearts of most of the millennials.

Presently, the highest value in the Western world is freedom of expression and the Christian Right is now viewed as intolerant bigots who are against progress, creativity and equality. Politics is very important but will never ultimately work unless the hearts and minds of a culture are in agreement with its stated platform and philosophy of life. Thus, the church should focus on reflecting God’s truth in every aspect of culture, not just politics.

4. I do not vote for a political candidate just because he/she is a Christian.

There have been several elections, both national and local, in which I voted for a non-Christian over a Christian candidate. I would rather vote for a qualified person than someone who agrees with me theologically. Regarding the presidency, we are not electing a theologian-in-chief but a commander-in-chief! Also, if we elect an unqualified person just because they are a believer it can backfire if their failures in policy are blamed on Christian beliefs. I will vote for a person irrespective of their beliefs and lifestyle if their values, qualifications and methodological approach to policy is closer to my view than their opponent, even if their opponent is a Christian.

Of course, all things being equal, if two candidates are virtually equal in regards to policy, values and pragmatics, I would choose the Christian over the non-Christian. My hope is that eventually more Christ-honoring people will be qualified to lead in every realm of society because the consummation of history will ultimately unite heaven and earth under the Lordship of Christ.

5. God uses non-believers to fulfill His purposes.

In Romans 13:4-7 non-Christian magistrates are called God’s servants. Isaiah 45-46 and the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther demonstrate how God uses unsaved political leaders for His purposes and even calls them His anointed ones. (Pagan kings such as Cyrus, Artaxerxes, Nebuchadnezzar and Darius are all biblical examples of how God used kings to save His people from a holocaust, to return them to their own land and to rebuild and restore Jerusalem.)

Through His common grace, God works through all people for the good of humanity even if they are philosophically opposed to Him. For example, many of the charitable outreaches I have participated in have been resourced and/or aided by secular agencies, political officials and some private citizens who have espoused a lifestyle different from mine yet we still serve together for the good of our communities.

6. I believe God has called believers to work toward having flourishing communities.

I am not opposed to Christians getting involved politically and I believe in biblical ethics in policy. However, our greatest ethos regarding ethics is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Consequently, this means that the church should not do community service merely when they can evangelize and add members. This is disingenuous and the world sees through this and has a right to be offended by it. We are to love for the sake of love and use our gifts and abilities as image-bearers of God, to creatively enhance our communities for human flourishing.

As we live a life dedicated to love and service we will inadvertently change the narrative folks have regarding our churches and our faith. The church once transformed the Western world through music, art, the promotion of aesthetics, abolishing slavery, fighting for civil rights, and through the founding of universities, disaster relief agencies and hospitals. Without the love and ingenuity of the church, the Western world would still be living as their pre-Christian Barbarian ancestors did.

Hence, God is calling believers back to both kingdom orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

7. I do not believe all nations will be Christianized before the bodily return of Christ.

The Bible teaches us that Jesus will not return until the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21) and all His enemies are under His feet (Ps. 110:2). Furthermore, Jesus as the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) came to fully implement the cultural mandate given to the first Adam (Gen. 1:28), which is why He called believers to disciple whole nations (Matt. 28:19). While some Christians (some, not all Christian dominionists) have interpreted these passages to mean that every nation will eventually become Christian before He returns, I do not agree.

The Bible is not clear regarding what it means for His enemies to be put under His feet, so we are only left with conjecture regarding what kind of kingdom witness will be on the earth before His coming. Jesus said (Matthew 25:25-41) that there will be disobedient goat nations when He returns, thus showing that all nations will not be saved at His return. Also, scripture teaches in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 that “when He comes He will punish those who know not God and disobey the gospel.” Hence, there will be plenty of unbelievers at His return.

Finally, it says in Revelation 20:8-10 “that near the end of human history Satan will deceive some of the nations” and Revelation 21:24 (KJV) that “the nations that are saved will be able to enter into the Holy City” which implies that there will be large collections of unsaved people groups at the consummation of human history. What all these passages teach is that, this side of heaven, we will never experience the fullness of the kingdom until Jesus returns. This does not mean that we do not try to manifest His kingdom wherever we go, but that we occupy and function as the salt and light of the world until He comes (Luke 19:13; Matt. 5:13-16).###

Original Source: http://josephmattera.org/seven-reasons-why-i-am-not-a-christian-dominionist/

[Editor’s Note: Bishop Joseph Mattera is the president of the US division of the International Coalition of Apostles, an organization that claims conservatorship of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), presided over and proliferated by C. Peter Wagner, who abruptly stepped down after spearheading the very public and highly-publicized, purportedly prophetic “apostolic alignment” ceremony of the bizarre, brash, substance-abusing, New Age stigmaticist and sorcerer, convicted child-molester, head-to-toe-tatted, biker-dude, WWF-wannabe, frontman of the so-called “Lakeland Outpouring,” Todd Bentley, whose longtime hypocritical secret life of adultery and multifaceted debauchery was exposed the very next day, bringing an abrupt end to the months-long freak show that was televised around the world on the now essentially defunct, blasphemously-named “God TV” network. This inexplicable enigmatic event brought increased international disgrace and disrepute upon the ICA organization and its more prominent members, in particular, who were already perceived by many in the Body of Christ as authority-grubbing, egotistical elitists who used their self-proclaimed status as self-proclaimed, self-appointed apostles for self-aggrandizing and self-exalting purposes. A myriad of other extant proponents and subscribers of the apostolic-prophetic restoration who are not affiliated with the ICA (who are far more in number than those who are) are highly disturbed and perturbed by the antics, actions, and reflected attitudes, and in some cases, broadly-held doctrines, of the ICA and some of its members in that they are misrepresenting and discrediting apostolic and prophetic functions, and thereby deterring and delaying the apostolic-prophetic restoration and God’s purposes for it. The present primary leader of the international ICA is John Kelly, one of the organization’s original founders, who had voluntarily stepped away from top-leadership position in the ’90s citing health issues among other reasons, ceding leadership to Wagner, at the time. SLM is encouraged by this critique, albeit, indirect, by Joseph Mattera on the Scripturally-indefensible Dominionism (a.k.a., “Kingdom Now”) doctrine, and hope that it is a harbinger of more forthcoming, sorely needed, correctives to the ICA, its members, and its unofficial affiliates and subordinates. The ICA and those associating itself with its endeavors and enterprises would do well to recognize and perhaps even acknowledge the existence of this aforementioned myriad of extant non-ICA-affiliated proponents and subscribers of the apostolic-prophetic restoration and their aversion to such extreme heterodoxies as Dominionism, Preterism, Amillennialism, et al., along with other unorthodox teachings, private interpretations, and quirky beliefs emerging from the New Order of the Latter Rain movement in the late 1940s, of which C. Peter Wagner stated and restated numerous times, in writing and orally, the NAR of which he was a proponent, was an extension and continuation. In what seems to many to be blinding, narcissistic egotism, the ICA seems oblivious to the fact that its public persona is in desperate need of massive rehabilitation. Or, maybe, it, i.e., its members, couldn’t care less, despite the fact that God’s purposes for the apostolic and prophetic functions in the last hours of the Church’s presence on the earth is (in one sense) being severely harmed and hindered by same. See also SLM’s previously published disclaimer regarding this author. It is important to recognize that Mattera’s disavowing and tacit denouncing of Dominionism is also a refutation, inadvertent or intentional, of the so-called “Seven Mountain” teachings popularized by prominent ICA affiliates/members, the origins of which are rooted in Marxism, and the essence of which is Dominionism.]

DISCERNING BETWEEN WOLVES, SHEEP AND HORSES IN A CHURCH
By Joseph Mattera

The Bible uses certain animals as metaphors to depict certain kinds of people in the kingdom. Pastors and senior leaders of organizations need to discern at least three kinds of people in their organizations to effectively lead.[1]

Although most people may have a mixture of all three traits at times in their lives, it is very possible that either the negative or positive traits of a person can suck them fully into either the dark side or the light of the Kingdom of God. It is inevitable that every growing organization and/or church will attract all three of these kinds of people simultaneously.

Following are some of the main characteristics of wolves, sheep, and horses as based on my observations during almost 30 years of ministry in the church and marketplace. Continue reading “Wolves, Sheep, & Horses in the Church” »

TEN JUDGMENTS OF JESUS AGAINST THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS OF THE CHURCH
By Joseph Mattera

Every church and/or organization has a corporate culture with norms, rules and expectations that pressure participants to conform. Some cultures are good and some bad. That being said, there are particular attributes that characterize false religions or become the norm during religious decline in a true faith such as Christianity. For example, “Every religious system in the world is centered upon a temple (or a sacred place) and has rites and ceremonies, has hierarchies and titles distinguishing men from one another, and has holy days and holy celebrations” (quoted from a teaching I heard from Pastor Tommy Moya several weeks ago).

The Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, Micah and Amos decried religious ritual that was without true righteousness, humility and love for neighbor (Isaiah 1:10-17; 58; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:8). The line of prophets arose starting in the eighth century B.C. primarily because Israel had a tendency to focus more on adhering to the temple ritual worship of the Levitical system than the ethical lifestyle required by the Law of Moses as found in the Ten Commandments. For this, the prophets pronounced judgment upon the nation, and God dispersed the people and, on two occasions, destroyed their temple.

We have the same issue in today’s church, irrespective of the denomination or expression of the Body of Christ. (Many Pentecostal, charismatic and Evangelical churches have these same issues.) Not only that, but all leaders (including me) have to constantly grapple with some or all of the following issues internally to make sure we are never sucked into this false system. Continue reading “Ten Marks of False Religious Systems” »

17 Signs You’re an “Empire Builder,” Not a “Kingdom Builder”
By Joseph Mattera

Ever since the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity divided in the 11th century, some of the greatest fears of the once united Christendom has been realized—fragmentation and division.

Even in the 16th century when Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation, there was the hope that there would only be a few major expressions of the body of Christ—never in their wildest dreams did the reformers envision all the denominations and now various branches and networks of Christianity that have evolved—which has given opportunity for a spirit of lawlessness, independence and empire building among some insecure but gifted leaders. Whether all these expressions are of God or not is not the purpose of this article. Continue reading “17 Signs Distinguishing Kingdom Builders From Empire Builders” »

SEVEN REASONS WHY MANY BELIEVERS FOLLOW “SUPERSTAR” PASTORS
By Joseph Mattera

The church has seen the rise of “celebrity cult status” pastors who act like spiritual superstars.

In this article I define superstars as those who act as little gods who believe they are above everybody else. They walk around with an entourage, body guards, and are inaccessible to family, friends, high level staff and peers, and are an unaccountable island to themselves.

Furthermore, no matter how much these leaders violate biblical ethics, they still maintain their leadership position because most of their followers are blinded by their devotion. Many of these superstars have started in the ministry for the right reason but because of un-dealt with emotional dysfunction related to their youth. They carry these dysfunctions over into their ministry and church family.

There are some social and psychological reasons for this aberrant behavior / both from the vantage point of the leader and their followers.

The following are some of these symptoms and reasons:

7 Reasons Why followers follow superstar pastors

1. Many Christians need a male figure to emulate.

Many believers come from dysfunctional family backgrounds and need a male figure hero to emulate as a father figure. Some folks view their spiritual leader as a surrogate father, hence they will be protective of said leader to the point in which their emotional connection and loyalty clouds biblical truth

2. Many Christians have no identity of their own and live vicariously through their leader.

Those without a healthy self-identity gravitate towards a strong, confident leader with a compelling vision to the point in which their own individuality is subsumed or fragmented. Thus, this creates a vacuum of being and essence which makes them vulnerable to a charismatic leader; e.g., this is how false prophet Jim Jones was able to lead 900 well-educated followers into committing corporate suicide in Guyana in the 1970′s.

3. Many believers have a strong sense of failure and live through the success of their Leader.

Many people live a boring life without purpose and feel that they have more meaning when vicariously live their life through a person they deem successful.

4. Many followers lack their own intimate knowledge of Christ and are ignorant of Scripture.

Unfortunately, most Christians are Bible-illiterate and will believe anything their leader teaches them, even if it is heretical. Hence, their leader can live a life or lead their church in a way not congruent with Scripture and they wouldn’t even know it!

5. Many stay connected to the leader primarily because of their social community.

After being in a church for several years, folks usually assimilate into that particular faith community (which is a great thing in most cases) and build their social network around their church life and ministry. If they leave their church, they have to cut off many of these social ties, thus, they will continue in a church even if the leader is living an ungodly life full of pride, abuse, and manipulation

6. Many are connected to a superstar leader because it gives them religious status.

There are many people I have met who attend a certain church only because they have a lot of members, even if they are not being discipled or ministered to in a personal way. They get fed from other sources but remain in their church because the celebrity status of their leader gives them status with other Christians in their city.

7. Many have low self esteem and don’t recognize when they are being abused or manipulated.

Those with self-esteem will allow others to abuse, disrespect, and even manipulate them because they don’t have enough self-dignity to disapprove or even recognize it. Many of these folks were abused or neglected at home and live with a sense of guilt and feel an unconscious need to have authority figures who act the same way as their parents did (to satiate their feelings of guilt in some cases).

In closing, in rare instances where I perceive believers start attending our local congregation who come from these dysfunctional churches, I am not as quick (as usual) to discourage their attendance, but am willing to open up our congregation to them as a place for them to receive personal ministry and (hopefully) flourish in their faith.

Read the previous article: 10 Reasons Some Church Leaders Become Divas

Source: http://josephmattera.org/seven-reasons-many-believers-follow-superstar-pastors/

10 REASONS SOME PASTORS DEVELOP A SUPERSTAR MENTALITY
By Joseph Mattera

From the outset of this article I do not want to convey the thought that just because a leader has name recognition or becomes popular that they are not people of God. Many of my close friends in the ministry are also celebrities in their own right but do not exhibit these traits. However, It would be less then honest for those of us in the church not to admit the aberrant behavior of some of our own. The following are ten reasons some church leaders develop a superstar mentality.

1. They have a sense of entitlement.

Some folks think more highly then they ought to think of themselves and believe in their heart that they deserve better treatment then any other human being (Romans 12:3).

2. Because of their celebrity status they think they are above the law.

When a celebrity leader (could be a celebrity in a small church as well as a large church based on the adulation of the people and their own self deception) gets used to having sycophants around him – they are used to getting what they want -when they want it! Hence, they push aside boundaries and live a life that satisfies their fleshly inclinations.

3. They are unaccountable.

Superstar pastors often think nobody is qualified to speak into their life. Some pastors and leaders think that they are so spiritual and successful, they have reached a point that nobody is able to speak into their life and teach them anything. When someone attempts to speak into them, they may ask the question in their mind, “Is this person as wealthy as me? or Do they have as many people in their church as I do? — before they even consider hearing what they have to say!

4. They don’t trust anybody.

Many superstar pastors are really projecting a false self of confidence and aloofness because they don’t trust enough to have intimate relationships with anybody -including their spouse and children

5. Their self identity is subsumed by their ministry identity.

Some start off ok, but eventually their success — fueled by their driving ambition to be respected and known — becomes the primary way they view themselves. Thus, they lose their core essence and live through a false sense of success and power.

6. They become narccistic to medicate the pain of their past.

Many superstar leaders abuse their leadership privileges by manipulating others for their own advantage, and or are involved in substance abuse, adultery, excessive entertainment, frequent vacations, and others lusts of the flesh to medicate the un-dealt-with pain they have from the great responsibilities, intense life, and other pressure cooker items that make them feel trapped with no outlet. Thus, they succumb to temporary fixes that give them a reprieve from their miserable reality.

7. They erroneously equate anointing to minister with God’s personal favor.

Some believe that because they preach great messages and experience the power of God when ministering that that is a sign that God’s favor is upon them, even if they are not living a life of holiness. Scripture teaches us through the narrative of Samson that prioritizing anointing and power before the Fruit of the Spirit will eventually catch up to you and result in an untimely end to your ministry.

8. They preach a Christ without a cross and a gospel centered on self rather then on sacrifice.

Some superstar leaders preach a “rights centered” gospel that is centered upon self rather then on Christ. This results in living a life of indulgence that has no boundaries that limit their desire for the physical amenities of life.

9. They associate with other superstar pastors who reinforce this superstar culture.

The old saying “birds of a feather flock together” is a truism in which people tend to congregate mostly with others who believe like them and reinforce their belief system and lifestyle, which can be either a force for good or evil. Demigod leaders tend to associate with other spiritual divas and even have them preach in their church because they don’t want any dissident voice that will call them to account and bring a standard of holiness.

10. Those closest to them don’t challenge them.

Often the person with the most influence to speak into the pastor is the spouse. Unfortunately, often the lavish superstar lifestyle can abate the conscience of said spouse because of all the goodies and bling that come to them. When the voice of the spouse is either ignored or silent, then the person with the greatest chance of correcting them is non-existent. The same goes for their inner-circle and close friends and family who may also benefit from this opulent lifestyle.

In closing, this article was not written with the intent to arouse a critical spirit in the Body of Christ but to offer a prophetic correction so that we can turn back to the way of Jesus and the apostles. If some read this and use it as an excuse to gossip and be critical of their leader, then they are missing the point, and are just as guilty as the one they are judging. Also, as a pastor for over thirty years, I have seen these traits in leaders of all stripes, both in the marketplace and in the church. Furthermore, all believers have the same sinful root issues as these superstar pastors, hence, we need to abstain from personal judgment and allow these ten principles to convict our own soul.###

Source: http://josephmattera.org/10-reasons-pastors-develop-superstar-mentality/

Seven Warning Signs Before Leadership Failure
By Joseph Mattera

Unfortunately, in every level and realm of life, we have all witnessed serious leadership failure. It is no longer a surprise when we read about a high-level pastor, celebrity, sports figure or politician who is disgraced because of ethical or moral failure.

As one who has worked with many struggling church and marketplace leaders on a very personal level for the past 30-plus years, I have made the following observations regarding warning signs before a fall, which I teach younger leaders so they will avoid the mistakes of the present generation of many leaders.

All of us have fallen into the following in one way, shape or form. Hopefully we will have learned the hard leadership lessons of life so we can pass on wisdom to the next generation. Here are seven warning signs before leadership failure:

1. Often before falling, a leader will cram so much into his or her schedule for a prolonged amount of time that they don’t get enough time for personal renewal and rest. Much activity is not always kingdom productivity. When a person is constantly running around from meeting to meeting, from state to state, from event to event without seeking God and personal times for reflection, they do violence to their soul and will eventually be operating on willpower and fumes instead of the Spirit of God. This can lead to them being tempted to escaping from the pressure of life with adulterous relationships, pornography, excess entertainment and foolish endeavors.

Activity without clarity will also lead to making poor decisions. When we are always in a rush, we will not have the proper time to process things, which leads to a lack of discernment and disastrous leadership decisions. This will compound the pressure even more and create more work to get out of the mess they are in. Sometimes less is more!

I am not saying leaders shouldn’t be very busy or have a lot of responsibility. But what I am saying is there always has to be enough time in between events and days of meetings for daily reflection, prayer and seeking God so that our level of discernment is high and we are walking in the grace and power of God—instead of our own willpower and strength—to do His work.

2. Before falling, a leader avoids intimate contact with their peers or overseers who can speak into their life. They live a life of isolation, which is very dangerous.

As busy as I am, there are a number of mentors and spiritual sons that I open up to who give me input and prayer. I am always open to hearing God’s voice through their prayers or exhortations to me. The more responsibility I have, the more community I need to keep myself on track!

We also need intimate relationships to keep the human side of us active. It is very easy to go from one productive business meeting or anointed service to another and always be in front of strangers or crowds of people or with leaders who don’t know us well. There is no real community in those settings; even in the midst of a crowd, we can isolate ourselves because in a crowd a leader doesn’t have to be intimate or accountable, since they are the ones calling the shots, doing the leading and speaking instead of the other way around.

3. A leader is heading for a fall when he or she is not spending adequate time with their spouse and/or family. God told us that it is not good for man to be alone. I have seen many leaders, especially those who travel a lot, who are not in regular touch with their spouses and who rarely ever spend time at home.

Being with family helps keep a leader grounded. Without that, they will be surrounded by superficial relationships related only to their productivity as a minister or businessperson, where they are always receiving accolades (from sycophants) as opposed to being a father, mother, husband or wife who has to constantly strive to work hard at intimacy in their family relationships—which God intended for us to keep us humble and grounded. A leader may get praise from everyone around him, but the spouse really knows them and will tell them like it is and keep them in touch with reality!

4. Leaders are heading for trouble when they don’t exercise self-discipline in eating and indulging their pleasures. If a leader cannot control their eating patterns, then most likely that is a reflection of a larger issue—that is, they are medicating themselves with food and most likely are vulnerable to other lusts of the flesh that will enable them to escape from the pressures of reality. Obesity is a social sin that has become acceptable in the body of Christ even though Jesus warns against it (Luke 21:34).

Furthermore, when we as leaders have bad diets, it begins to affect our minds, emotions and spirits in negative ways because it creates sluggishness and fatigue and clouds our spirits with our carnality. Many leaders have died or have serious health issues once they hit their 40s and 50s because of a poor diet. God will judge us if we prematurely meet Him and miss half our lives because of our lack of discipline and obedience.

5. Leaders are heading for trouble when they don’t seek God for God and only pray and read the Bible when they have to preach a sermon or minister. Worse than our lack of intimacy with the Lord is the fact that we are only using Him to make a living or using His word to achieve certain outcomes.

However good they may be, our highest call in life is to know and love God. Matthew 7:22-23 teaches us that we can minister for God effectively and still fail if He doesn’t know us. Leaders who only seek God for a sermon have a professional relationship with the Lord and will eventually not have the grace and spiritual power to deal with all the pressures of marriage, life and ministry, which can lead to moral failure.

6. Leaders who love titles, positions and recognition and who constantly join boards and get involved in large events for public prominence are heading for a fall unless they repent. When we exalt ourselves, God says He will humble us (Luke 14:11), and he who seeks his own glory is not glory (Prov. 25:27).

We are not far from a fall when we try to lift ourselves up, promote ourselves or get involved in events without hearing from the Lord; we are like the Pharisees who loved titles, prominent positions, greetings in the marketplace and to be called leader or reverend or bishop or doctor (Matt. 23:6-7). Leaders who are broken have learned not to try to create names for themselves by marketing their accomplishments and hype; they have learned that only when God exalts a person does it really last (Ps. 75:6).

7. When leaders use people as objects for their businesses or ministries instead of having a motivation of empowering people to walk in their purpose—when leaders put programs over people and tasks ahead of relationships—eventually they will have no one around them who is loyal or who they can trust. They will have burned many bridges behind them because, eventually, their followers will become weary of them and leave them!

Leadership is a lonely road to walk. Leaders more than anyone else need to minister to people with a servant’s heart. When leaders come into the ministry with the attitude of being served instead of serving others, they develop an entitlement mentality that can lead them to pride, arrogance and eventually destruction.

May God help all of us who serve the kingdom as leaders to glory only in knowing Him (Phil. 3:7-11; Jer. 9:23-24)!###

Joseph Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church, Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

This article was first published on Mattera Ministries International Blog. Republished by permission.
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As a believer with a Pentecostal experience since 1978 I have seen many genuine moves of God as well as many counterfeit works of the flesh. Unfortunately, many believers lack the discernment to tell the difference between what is of God and what originates with man.

My grandmother was the pastor of a classical Pentecostal Hispanic church for over 50 years. Through that experience I was able to understand some Pentecostal roots and practices. Generally speaking, the ethnic classical Pentecostals (in every ethnic group I have come across: Italian, Spanish, African-American, Russian to name a few) were known to be very strict when it came to outward holiness, to the point that many of us called them legalistic. (For example: women could not wear pants or make-up or cut their hair; no movies; no dancing; no entertainment; and even the men had a strict dress code of wearing a suit and a tie.)

Out of the Pentecostal movement arose the Charismatic movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s in which the historic denominational churches received the second blessing (baptism of the Holy Spirit) with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.

Because of the legalism associated with the word Pentecostal, many evangelicals across denominational lines have since felt more comfortable using the term “charismatic” to describe their Pentecostal experience that includes speaking in tongues, believing in divine healing, and deliverance from demonic oppression. Continue reading “Ten Marks of Charismaniacs” »

The late Kenneth Hagin

Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003)

As a product of the Word of Faith movement in the early 1980’s I will forever be indebted to the books and teachings of Kenneth Hagin, Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake, T.L. Osborn and the like.

These were holy men of integrity who turned the world upside down with their faith and teaching.

I learned how to pray for the sick by reading Osborn’s book Healing the Sick and I learned how to resist the devil by reading Hagin’s The Believer’s Authority! In reading many biographies of Smith Wigglesworth I have always been challenged by his utter consecration to Christ and to walk in the light of His word whether in or out of the pulpit. I shudder to think where I would be right now if not for being influenced by these men and this movement. Continue reading “Ten Ways the Word of Faith Movement Erred” »

U.S. Declaration of IndependenceIntroduction

This week we celebrate the founding of our nation, which started with our Declaration of Independence from England. Because of this, I thought it necessary to release one of my seminars on this topic.

The Declaration of Independence, which is the foundation of our nation’s Constitution, is so imbued with a biblical worldview that it would be controversial to read it aloud in many public schools, as well as other venues, because of the current secular movement towards removing Christianity from the public square!

My prayer is that leaders will use this teaching to remind their congregations, as well as friends and families, as to the Christian influence of our nation’s founding!

Introductory Points

American historian George Bancroft believed that Christian theologian John Calvin had a profound influence on the origin of American Independence.

19th century Spanish statesman, Emilio Castelar, traced America’s source to one book: the Bible.

In 1892, the Supreme Court unanimously concluded without qualification that “this is a Christian nation” (143 U.S. 457, 471; 1892). Continue reading “Christian Foundations in the Declaration of Independence” »

male-depression-2Many men I come across are depressed and have an inordinate desire to be fulfilled in sports by vicariously living their lives through other men they set up as heroes. This is because in sports there are clear winners and losers, thus satisfying a man’s desire to conquer through mastering a skill. Also, because they feel purposeless, they need to live their lives through other men or through a team they can identify with, attempting to fill the void in their hearts. Continue reading “Five Reasons Why American Men Fail To Fulfill Their Destiny” »

By Joseph Mattera

May God help us to not lead from insecurity, through manipulation, or for personal ambition! Here are 25 practical examples that indicate when someone is leading from their dark side:

1. You inwardly celebrate when a colleague or fellow minister falls.

2. Your spirit of competition causes you to inwardly celebrate when other organizations or ministries in your field aren’t doing as well as you.

3. You are more concerned about your local church or organization than the good of the kingdom of God and cultural transformation.

4. You manipulate people to promote yourself and try to make things happen instead of allowing God to open doors and promote you.

5. You look for opportunities to backstab other leaders in your region or field of work.

6. You are driven to succeed to counter your insecurity, poor self-esteem and a sense of insignificance.

7. You thwart the emergence of other strong leaders in your organization.

8. You are closed-up relationally and have no open, transparent relationships in which you share your weaknesses and fears.

9. You do not share power and work on your own in regards to major decisions that impact your organization or ministry.

10. You are shifty in relationships, taking sides with those you are presently with, then taking another point of view when with another person when there is a conflict or controversy.

11. You will sacrifice the future for the present in regards to debt financing and risk taking instead of leaving a legacy of financial sustainability.

12. You do not receive correction kindly but always get inwardly defensive.

13. You are constantly blaming others when things go wrong.

14. You constantly justify yourself instead of facing your failures.

15. You have no deep relationship with God and lead out of your flesh and soul life.

16. You don’t lead out of sound biblical principles unless it is convenient.

17. You view yourself more as a pragmatist than a principled person.

18. You are loyal to people only until you have used them to get to the next level.

19. You avoid confrontation and walking in the light according to Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 John 1:7.

20. You only care for those who care for you and serve your agenda.

21. Your greatest desire in life is to make a name for yourself.

22. The bottom line in regards to organizational effectiveness is more important to you than people.

23. You have a hard time forgiving those who offend you.

24. You carry resentment and baggage from the past that you refuse to let go.

25. You don’t walk in the peace of God but in the stress of the world.###
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Dr. Joseph Mattera has been in full-time ministry since 1980 and is currently the Presiding Bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York, a multiethnic congregation of 40 nationalities that has successfully developed numerous leaders and holistic ministry in the New York region and beyond. Visit his website at: http://josephmattera.org.


As a pastor I have been involved in political, economic and social issues in order to be holistic in ministering to the needs of our community, as well as functioning prophetically to influential elected officials. In this context, I have observed how many leaders also involved in holistic ministry have “behaved themselves” in regards to speaking out prophetically on major biblical issues. My opinion is that we are all called to be prophetic—especially preachers of the gospel (1 Peter 4:11)!

For example, during the past decade I have been a major proponent of preserving biblical marriage and have worked against legalizing alternate forms of marriage such as same-sex marriage. As I have helped lead the charge, some of my good friends have intentionally remained silent for a variety of reasons.

The following are some of the reasons pastors have muzzled their prophetic voice: Continue reading “Seven Reasons the Prophetic Voice of American Pastors Has Been Silent” »

By Dr. Joseph Mattera

With the increased tension and polarity in the body of Christ because of the coming election, I am attempting with this paper to help bring clarity as to why people vote the way they do. My intent in wading through these murky waters is to help to bring greater unity in the church so that we are not dogmatically judging one another. But, at the same time my hope is that believers will vote biblical values over groupthink partisan politics.

Many years ago, as a pastor and traveling teacher, I was shocked to find out that many of my dear pastor friends, as well as the majority of the ethnic congregations they oversee, voted for Democratic candidates, even if their platforms were contrary to standard biblical values in regards to issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. In private conversations with these pastors and their congregants we had almost total agreement on every major moral issue. But come Election Day, in my opinion, they voted against the values they preached on Sunday and practiced in private. Continue reading “Why Many Believers Vote Against Their Biblical Values” »

The following are the expanded notes from a speech Bishop Mattera made on August 7, 2011 to 150 political, business, and military leaders in the African nation of Rwanda, including the Speaker of Parliament.

First of all, I want to say that I am pleased to address you, the political and community leaders of Rwanda for the magnificent job you have been doing in rebuilding this great nation! Most in the United States have no idea how much progress you have made, the great attitude of your people and the motivation to move forward in spite of all the global challenges! I will be sure to pass the word around when I go back home to New York City! Continue reading “How to Frame a Nation with the Law of God” »