Be Ready

Smiling At the Future

By Pastor Pierre Bitar       

On a hot, humid summer, a friend of mine called saying he was coming to visit me within ten minutes. When my wife heard the conversation, she directly went to make a cold drink and straighten the living room. With three young children that make a mess all the time, the room needed a good cleaning. Jesus often spoke about His return and the Scriptures indicate that we do not and cannot know the time when Christ will return. Not even ten minutes! “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when He will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the Master, when He comes, will find watching” (Luke 12: 35-37). For unbelievers it might cause anxiety to think about the future and Christ’s return, because they do not have hope. But Christians who believe in God can have absolute confidence as they stay alert and serving Him faithfully. For those who know God, thoughts of the future bring eagerness and comfort. As the proverbs says, a woman who knows and trusts God “smiles at the future” (Proverbs 31:25).

Since Christ will come at an unexpected time, we should be ready at all times for Him to return. If the earthly law requires a driver to wear a seat belt when driving or to purchase auto insurance, how much more important is the heavenly law’s requirement for believers to be alert and ready for the return of Christ? To be ready for Jesus’ coming, you must be his servant. It should be obvious that a master is a master of servants. His servants live to obey His commands and to do His call. Servants do not have a life of their own; they live to please their Master. This is a noble and honorable call for leaders to live at this standard and no less. I observe, however, that do not fully meet this criteria. Therefore, my plan is to kneel down in front of the Lord and repent: I will spend time with Jesus and request forgiveness of the times I served Him with wrong motives. Moreover, I will ask forgiveness from my children and my wife for every time I didn’t choose to spend more time with them and make their lives more joyful. Another thing that I will do quickly, as I only have very little time to achieve it, is to go to each person in my community and tell him, “Jesus loves you.” My desire from this moment is to be fully devoted, committed servant to Christ and bring Him glory in every aspect of life.

Jesus died on the cross that we can have an eternal life, but the devil is a liar and he is deceiving people in my neighbors, to stay in sin away from Jesus. I will spend time praying for my community and fighting in prayer that God will visit them in visions and dreams. I will do anything for the sinner to get to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. I will not care about preaching to my church members as they sat on those fancy pews. Instead, I would take them outside the church walls and preach the Gospel to everyone we met. There are plenty of people in my community that are broken and in pain. They need someone to visit them and wipe their tears as well as encourage them with the hope we have in Jesus Christ. My plan is to reach to those people and minister to them. We need, as leaders, to stop wasting time doing programs and traditional services, and focus on who we will take with us to eternity. We ought to pray and repent on behalf of our country seeking the Lord intervention in every corrupt and uncompassionate heart for God’s Kingdom. Therefore, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

We have a calling to be a people of God without spot or wrinkle, and a church who has its priorities straight, to bring people into the Kingdom of God. The day is coming, so we should be ready for Christ’s return. Not just serving Him faithfully every day, but being faithful with my children and raising them in the fear of the Lord. Modeling Jesus’ heart to them as they learn by observing me as a father and investing in them spiritually. The time is not ended yet, but work as Jesus is if coming tomorrow. 

Salvation and Leadership

By Pierre Bitar

The civil war started in 1975 in Lebanon. As Lebanese, we were in very difficult situations during that time as several parties were fighting against each other and many were killed every day. As a young man I had lots of questions. Why would God allow for such a war like this? I was hopeless, miserable and blaming God. Why didn’t He change the situation in Lebanon? The war left me with a strong sense of emptiness in my heart. I tried to fill it with the pleasures of the world, but nothing could fill my need. In April 1991, the Son of hope shined on my life after years of living in darkness. At that time I realized God’s love for me, the love that saved me from my sin.   

The Scripture teaches us that the history of the human race is a history of man in rebellion/disobedience against God and separated from His presence, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The only solution for humankind to recover the relationship with God was for God to send His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins. Through the work of Jesus on the cross, and His love, salvation became available for the human race, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). It was a turning point in history when God restored the relationship between man and Himself through His love on the cross. 

God loves us and wants us to share His love and the Good News to others. For example, if someone is sick for many years with a horrible disease and suddenly he discovers that there is a medicine to heal him completely from that disease, he won’t hesitate to buy the medicine and take it. Also, he will share the medicine with anyone who has the same disease so they can be healed. Therefore, everyone who experiences salvation ought to share God’s love to others. During the civil war in Lebanon, I observed the fight spreading all over Beirut. Many were killed every day and dozens of injured were scattered everywhere. There was a lack of food for many days and months and people could barely find food to eat. Doctors and nurses were a hope at that time for the injured to receive healing. The United Nation played a big role to rescue people from danger and eliminate the death on a daily basis as well as providing food for the hungry. During the hopeless, miserable time that the country was passing through, I experienced Christ’s salvation that turned my life around and gave me passion to help those who need to be rescued. God always stretches His hand to His people and He considers us as partners with Him to carry out the Gospel of Salvation to our communities. “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go” (Luke 10:1). God wants to visit people in every place in this world. He can do this by Himself, without you and me; but out of His love, He shares His work with us, as ambassadors on His behalf, to preach the Gospel. In the same chapter, the disciples came back with joy saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (Luke 10: 17).

As the world is flooding into our city on a weekly basis from the Middle East, we ought to stretch out the hand of God to those people around us and proclaim salvation to them. As a church pastor, I am sharing in ministry to the refugees with some American friends to proclaim love to the Arabs that are coming to resettle in the Dallas area. Also, I hope to help those friends to become aware of the needs of the refugees. From this stand point, I also model the idea that we are from different countries and are brothers in Christ. We share the same heart for ministry to help these families overcome the trauma that they are experiencing as new residents in a western country. My plan for the coming weeks is to relieve some families by taking them on a tour in Dallas and having a refreshing time together. I will be available to them as a brother and father and carry with them their pain and needs as new residents.

At one time I was frustrated and hopeless, but God’s salvation was presented to me through people who led me to experience Christ as Savior. Feeding the sheep and preaching the Word of God through the Holy Spirit produces Salvation and relief. 

How Does the Doctrine of Sin Inform My Theology of Leadership?

By Pierre Bitar

 As I was writing my blog, my younger daughter came to me and asked if she could use my smartphone for only one minute. After an hour, I realized that the phone was not on the desk. I called her to bring my phone. When she came I asked her, “Why did you not tell me you needed the phone for longer time?”

She replied, “If I tell you, you will not let me use the phone for a longer time.”

At this moment I spoke to her, “You need to be honest with yourself, and with me, from the beginning. Give me the right to say you can use my phone or you can’t.”

She ended the conversation by saying, “Sorry, Dad, I will not do this again.”  

Sin entered the world when Adam ate from the tree in the Garden of Eden that God had prohibited. From this point, human became sinful by nature; that he inherited from Adam. No one can teach humans how to sin, we figured that out by ourselves. The history of the human race as presented in Genesis 3 is primarily a history of man in a state of sin and rebellion/disobedience against God. We may define sin, as follows: Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude and nature. So, any action, (even one resulting from wrong attitudes and motives) that harms the relationship we have with God and/or another person, is sin. Sin broke the connection we have with God and separated us from Him. Therefore, mankind missed the mark of God's holy standard of morality. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mathew 5: 27-28). There are various ways in which we fail to meet His standard of righteousness. Sin includes not only individual acts such as stealing, lying or committing murder, but also the heart attitudes. Jeremiah sees the ways of the people of Judah and the fruit of their deeds which grow out of an internal condition of the heart, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17: 9). We cough because we have a cold; when cold bacteria enters our bodies we become ill. In the same way, we sin because we are sinners, by nature and choice, and this produces “idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies” (Galatians 5:20). This is a condition of the heart with humankind, unfortunately, with redeemed believers as well. It is easy for the Christian to be tempted every single minute and choose to sin. I believe that the ultimate need today is for godly people to speak the Truth and teach the Word of God faithfully. Leaders are the ones who should speak the Truth, and no less than truth. They tend to lead their congregations to maintain a clean heart and life by the ministry of preaching the Word of God. John Chrysostom gives his solution for sin, “only one means and only one method of treatment available that is teaching by the word of mouth. That is the best instrument, the best diet, and the best climate. It takes the place of medicine and cautery and surgery. When we need to cauterize or cut, we must use this. Without it all else is useless.” I remember my pastor in Egypt always taught about purity of heart and lead his congregation into this approach. In addition, he had discipleship groups and a vision for training generations to be servants and leaders in God’s field. On the other hand, it is a matter of fearing God in our heart and choosing not to sin.

I believe God’s Word is like a mirror in which we see ourselves as God does. It speaks by itself and convicts the heart. Through the Word, we discover the areas where we have been faithful, and also the places where we’ve sinned and deviated from His path. God’s Word is able to expose the sin and the attitude of the heart. Then the Holy Spirit can transform the heart to be more like Christ. To become the person that God plans me to be, requires me to allow the Word of God to work in my life as I read it daily and meditate on it. Becoming the person God planned to be, requires an intimate relationship with Him and a desire to obey His Word. Disobedience is the biggest issue in the story of Adam and Eve. They fall because of disobedience. When we obey God’s Word and allow His Word to dwell in us, then a change will take place as we choose daily not to commit sin.

 

Dr. Menees AbdelNoor

How Does the Doctrine of Man Inform My Theology of Leadership?

 By Pierre Bitar Oct. 23rd, 2015

When a designer creates a tool, it should be useful for the job for which it was created. For example, a Swiss Watch is made in Switzerland in a fancy way, not to be used as a hammer, but as a watch on the wrist. It is possible to use tools for other applications; but the best use, the most rewarding, most efficient use, is found in applying the tool to the task for which it was designed. The same is true for us! Unfortunately, people aren’t always exactly clear why they were created. Humans are not created for the ultimate purpose of having a good business or living a wealthy life. Those things may be good and are from God, but there is something more meaningful for which we are created—to glorify Him.

At first look, we see that God created us in His image, “Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1: 26). Humans are also created to bring joy to God as well as to glorify Him. Isaiah expresses God’s word by saying, “Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” (Isaiah 43:7). This fact guarantees that our lives are significant to the eternal God Himself. He created us to display His glory in every aspect of life, that His glory might be known and praised by humankind. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

I, personally observed the life and the ministry of my pastor in Egypt, Dr. Menees AbdelNoor. He lived a faithful and committed life for God, discipling generations of people over his life time. He shared the pulpit with the leaders that he raised, and ministered with them as partners. He was the first pastor to fly to Monte Carlo to share the Good News on the radio station (before the television was a household possession) so, the Arabs all over the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf could hear the Gospel. This put him at risk every time he left the country and especially when he came back. He would stay for hours being investigated about every trip. Many times he was close to being shot in his office when the “secret police” would visit him to restrict his preaching of the Gospel to the Arabs. He always thought about the other sheep who were not of the church fold, that they, too, could know Jesus as Savior. His life was never more expensive than fulfilling God’s call in his life. He taught by example and influenced the lives of many people. He closely discipled one of the young, associate pastors, who later became the senior pastor of the church, so that his torch for the Gospel would continue to burn brightly. Pastor Menees will remain a legacy for many to learn from him.  

It was a privilege to know Pastor Menees and learn from his life and ministry, which planted in me the love to serve God with the small gift I have. His leadership is still fresh in my mind, how he dealt with the ministry and the people around him. This gives fuel to my engine as a church planter. One of the virtues that I value in the body of Christ, is unity in order to build a healthy church. I believe that unity was made possible on the cross two thousand years ago. As   ministers, we should model that unity with our congregations and other churches as well. Right now I am arranging a worship and prayer event that will take place next November in my church. One of the strategies of this event to invite the Arabic pastors and churches in the Dallas area to worship and pray together. I tend to deal with those churches as partners in ministry.

At this moment in history, hundreds are pouring into the Dallas/Fort-Worth area due to the turmoil in the Middle East. God is bringing the nations to my city. They are becoming our neighbors and co-workers; if I do not reach them, who will? I have had opportunity in the last couple of months to encourage the flocks to go outside of the church walls and show God’s love to the refugees in my community. The Lord was so faithful to put in our way people who need help with the cultural changes they are experiencing as new residents. We help some with pantry food and others with English classes as a way to build bridges with them and to share the Gospel.

Every Christian leader is called for a certain purpose in the Christian ministry whether it is big or small. Defiantly, each leader has a different and unique call from other leaders. Whatever the call is, it should be accomplished faithfully, humbly and wholeheartedly so that the people we reach and serve give the glory to God. 

How Does The Knowledge of God Inform My Theology of Leadership?

By Pierre Bitar October 9th, 2015

Are you aware of the term “omniscience?” God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act. Take a little time to read this post to learn the meaning of the word and its value in the life of leaders.  

At first look, the omniscience of God may seem to be a simple concept—God knows everything. The more we study the Bible, the more we come to understand what an incredible fact that is. God fully knows Himself, and as the only one who is infinite, only He can fully know Himself in every detail. This idea is suggested by John’s statement that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). We understand from this context “light” is moral purity and full knowledge. There is “no darkness at all” in God. He is holy and is entirely “light.” As a result He has perfect self-knowledge. Moreover, God has full knowledge of all things as applies to creation; God is the one before whom “No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account” (Hebrews 4:13). I like how David reflects upon the amazing detail of God’s knowledge of our lives. He knows our actions and thoughts: “Lord, you have searched me and know me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thought faraway” (Psalms 139:1-2). He knows even the words we will say before they are spoken: “Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord” (Psalms 139:4). 

The fact that God is omniscient, is very essential for leaders. It can make a shift in their ministry if they grasp God’s omniscience. As I am writing this blog, I feel how unaware I am and how omniscient the God I worship is. He knows everything in detail about me and even my desires and dreams. In 2011, my desire was to study Masters of Art in Christian Leadership in the United States. With the little knowledge I had I didn’t know or see how that would happen. I started to ask myself questions such as: Which college should I apply to? How do I get a scholarship? Will the American consulate grant me the visas for my family? With those questions, I saw God leading me to my destiny step by step. First, He opened my eyes to apply to study at Christ for the Nations with a full scholarship. Then, after moving to the states and studying for one year the Lord led me to plant an Arabic church in Allen, Texas. Because my visa is a student status, I had to keep studying until I got my R-1 visa. Therefore, God opened the door at the right time to study for my Masters of Art in Christian Leadership at Criswell College. With His foreknowledge, He led me into this process to be able to fulfill my dream. God knew what steps I needed to take and when to open each door. I am so grateful for my heavenly Father who is the omniscient God who sees the full picture of my life from the beginning until the end. This reality gives me confidence, rest and security. I trust in His knowledge, knowing that nothing is hidden from Him, and that His will is always perfect.     

In 2014, the Lord called me to plant an Arabic speaking church in Allen, Texas. I was still in the process of planting and reaching out to the community, whether by events, evangelism or by building relationships with new families. After a year of ministering with the community, I could tell that planting a church was not an easy work, but I trusted God in this ministry knowing that, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6). Therefore, I can reach out to my community and minister with them without burden for God knows the future and destiny of His people. God is the owner of the ministry and the church. In His knowledge, He knows the hearts of the people, and the core group that will build His church in Allen. It is not about me anymore; it’s about Him. This gives me rest.

Prayer

As I meditate upon the Divine perfection of God, I bow down in adoration before the omniscient God. Thank you, Lord, for your perfect will in my life. I trust in You, believing that my church is in your heart and mind. You will never leave me; You will accomplish the picture of my church that is in your mind. Amen.  

How Does the Doctrine of Christ Inform My Theology of Leadership?

Does Theology Transform Me?

Are you aware of the term "hypostatic union”?    

hypostatic union” simply means that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine and that He is one united Person, forever

Take a little time to read this post to learn the meaning of the word and its value in the life of the church and individuals. The concept appears in Hebrews 1:3, “the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature.” (HCSB). Here the author of Hebrews uses the word in reference to the unity of God. Both the Father and the Son are of the same “nature.” We find in the Christian faith an obvious truth that God exists in tri-unity. There is only one God, but He exists as three eternal persons identified as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). When the second person of the tri-unity God (the Son), took on humanity as Jesus of Nazareth, it involved a miraculous union of two complete natures—one fully human and one fully divine. The practical term used to explain this miracle is “hypostatic union.”

Union with Christ

We become united with God, by faith, through Christ’s union with mankind and the action of the Holy Spirit. In and through Christ we are children of the heavenly Father. In union with Christ, that which is His, becomes ours. His Father becomes our Father. His mission and service to the world become our mission. John Calvin says that this is “the wonderful exchange which, out of His measureless benevolence, He has made with us; that becoming Son of man with us, He has made us sons of God with Him. With Christ, we participate in His hypostatic union, the union of His two natures in His one personhood, “so we may reflect the radiance of God’s glory.” When the Church understands the concept of the hypostatic union, it will no longer be a place to practice social life, or an attractive place for entertainment, but a place to get connected with the Father and the Son by the Holy Spirit. The church is divinely called and empowered, as well as being a human institution having the power of the risen Christ that gives rise and transformation to communities. I see the picture of my Arabic church as a church without walls. A church that proclaims the Good News and helps the Arab refugees that come every week to the Dallas-Fort Worth area due to the turmoil in the Middle East. I can hear the echo of the Scripture, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed.” (Luke 4: 18). What is the Good News to the sinners? Jesus can forgive their sins. The Good News to the captives is there is freedom in Christ. We as a body of Christ have all the tools and the capacity to pray over the sick and get healed. We have the authority to preach the Gospel and see sinners saved. Therefore, the church model is to participate in His hypostatic union, the union of His two natures in His one personhood. The great miracle that happened in history is that God became a man. “He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8). Christ died on the cross to forgive the sins of the world and to bring a new understanding to the concept of servanthood. He embraced the humble mission, as our Redeemer, to provide an example in order for the church to be a model of Christ in the world. Jesus became a human being in order to identify with us in our struggles. “Therefore, He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17). In my perspective that is a wonderful scripture that gives a taste to the concept of the hypostatic union. As pastors and ministers we should lead our congregations in this attitude.

Prayer

As I meditate upon the concept of hypostatic union, I ought to bow down in adoration before you. What a privilege to be united with the Father so I may reflect the radiance of Your glory. Help me as your servant to lead my church to be a missional church and say with John Wesley, “the whole world is my parish.” 

Pastor Pierre Bitar