Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Great Description

Today I read a great description of my former pastor on a blog I like to visit called "Loving Jesus, Leaving Church". There is a link to this blog on my blog list. The sentence went like this,"A charismatic personality, a silver tongue, a Bible college education, administrative gifts, leadership skills, and the ability to inspire people are about as useless as a tie in a jungle if one is lacking a Christ like character."

As I read this I realized that this described my former pastor so accurately. Only instead of leadership skills he had dictator abilities. I also realized that a tie in a jungle is probably much more useful than he was. Maybe I would compare him to a glass of sand for a man who is dying of thirst.

My earnest prayer is that all of us would surround ourselves with and listen to those who provoke us to be more like Christ and not those who would teach us to be selfish, self centered, money hungry blessing grabbers focusing on ourselves and our lives instead of reaching out to a lost and hurting world.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Whose Place Is It

I have been thinking about many of the teachings that I received at my former church. We were taught,(from the old testament of course), all about "the man of God" and how important he was. We were taught that we NEEDED a "man of God" to submit to, to speak into our lives, to hear from God for us, to correct us, to pray for us, that we were to give to him, serve him, honor him, highly esteem him, call him by the title of "Pastor" just as we would Father or Teacher. We were taught that he was never to be questioned, his actions were never to be questioned, his absolute authority was never to be questioned, he was never to be treated as a common person, that he was accountable to no one, that he was to be catered to, set apart, pampered, and doted on.

Now that I look back, no wonder there was so much teaching from the Old Testament on some of these things. In that dispensation of time the people needed the priests to hear from and talk to God for them because Jesus had not come. Yet in this time, the way some of these new breed of so called pastors demand and desire to be treated, goes way beyond the treatment of the Old Testament priests. The place they want to occupy in our lives entirely oversteps their bounds.

I see that this new breed of pastors wants the place of authority in our lives that the priests of old had and even more. They are not satisfied that you give to the body of Christ, to missions, to the poor, to the needy,or to spread the gospel. It has to be to their church and what they choose to use your money for. They are not satisfied with your money alone either. They want your total commitment, your loyalty, your honor, and your time.

When Jesus came and died for us and rose again, HE became our high priest. When He sent the Holy Spirit to live on the inside of us from the moment we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, He expects us to listen to Him...... not a man. He wants us to follow Him.....not a man.

I have begun to see that these men want the place of God in our lives. Why else would they want us to follow every word that proceeds out of THEIR MOUTHS????? Why are they tickling our ears with promises of wealth and riches, control over all our circumstances, excused sin with no responsibility for it. ( I am not saying that our confessed sins are not forgiven and washed away by the blood of Jesus, but I am saying that sin has consequences) Why are we not seeing people in these churches have a burning desire to serve others, devoting their efforts to reaching the lost, feeding the poor and helping those in need? On the contrary they are taught that the poor and the needy are not "good ground", that they need to give to the prosperous. How far from the teachings from Jesus is this????

Is this different than the devil wanting the place of God in heaven? It seems that God's place in our lives should be for Him and Him alone? I have wondered how I allowed that to be invaded in my life for so long before I saw the truth. It may not be the same thing but it is frightening to me how much authority and influence I allowed a man to have on and in my life.

So, whose place is it to occupy the office of speaking into my life, teaching me, correcting me, guiding me, intercede for me and for me to submit to? IT IS GOD'S PLACE. I have decided never to give it to a man again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here

I was reading a blog that I have recently found called "What Really Matters" and the last post really hit home with me. The reality of what thousands of people have experienced all over the country from controlling and manipulative pastors who are out to make a name for themselves and live like "the lifestyles of the rich and famous" without any regard for who they destroy on their so called "path to prosperity" is such an atrocity. Multitudes have come away from these churches having to pick up the pieces of their spiritual lives. Others have not only had spiritual abuses to deal with but have had physical abuses as well.

In the wake of the last twenty years of my life I find myself asking a lot of questions. In the end I wonder, where do I go from here? I also wonder if there are others asking themselves the same question.

When I visit a new church, I find myself listening to the pastor preach and I wonder... Can I trust this man? Does he live what he preaches? Does he use people for his own selfish gain and then toss them away? I he a practiced liar? Does he even know what honor is? Does he demand honor and respect that he hasn't earned? Does his family laugh at me ? Is he a monster in disguise? Does he pick out the parts of the Bible he likes and build doctrines around them and ignore the parts that he doesn't want to live by? Does everyone in ministry have ulterior motives?

I wonder about the people I meet. Do they stab everyone in the back? Is there anyone who doesn't sleep with people they are not married to? Are they all liars when it is convenient for them? Do they all think that they are above the laws of the land and that the rules don't apply to them? Is anyone ethical in business?

I guess I have been in a church where the leadership and everyone that follows the teaching closely are so totally consumed with their lives, their desires, their confessions, their blessings, their vision, and what they can get from God that I wonder if everyone is that way.

Do I ever want another pastor? Will I ever call a man "Pastor" again? DEFINITELY NOT!!
Will I ever join another church? Do I NEED a church covering??? NO! What did the church covering I had get me??? What did it get others that went there? The answer to these last two questions is not a pretty one.

Will worship ever be the same for me? I'm getting there. Do I believe that prayer can change things? Some yes, some I am not sure. When will I sift through all the false teaching I have listened to for years? I am not sure. Do I believe that I ever really know someone?? Maybe not.

In the Bible, Paul wrote, " follow me as I follow Christ". Is there a leader like that today? I don't know that I believe there is.

I do know that God is faithful and He loves me so much that He sent His son to die for me. He understands everything about me and He knows that I love Him with all that I am. He is not pushing me to find a church, commit to a ministry, or place myself under a man .... it was a man that put all that pressure on me in the first place and not God. It was a man that demanded that from me. A man who wanted my time, a man who wanted my devotion, a man who wanted my loyalty, a man who wanted my money, a man who wanted my trust, a man who demanded my honor, a man who wanted my service to him and what he wanted to build, a man who wanted to build an empire for himself. I will never again allow myself to be deceived by a man or fall into the trap of serving a man.

I don't know where I go from here, but I do know exactly where I am. I am returning to my first love. I am completely trusting in and leaning on my Heavenly Father and being led by the voice of my Shepherd. I am where He is there to comfort me and guide me. I am where no matter of how much of a failure I feel like He is there to tell me that I am chosen by Him and He chose me knowing full well every choice and mistake I would make in my lifetime. He is there to tell me I am not a failure but a joint heir with His son. I am where no matter how much of a burden it seems I have He is there to tell me that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He is always there telling me that He is proud of me. I am where I know that He will never leave me of forsake me.

No, I can't answer all the questions right now and I don't have to. I know that some will be answered and more will arise. It doesn't really matter where I go from here because wherever that path leads I will go with Him and for now that is enough for me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Gospel of ME

Lately I have been reflecting on all that I learned at my former church. Even though all that I learned there is not wrong, I do think that even the majority of the right things centered around "The Gospel of Me" and not the gospel of Christ.

The reason that I say this is that even though some things were correct, they were taught for the wrong reasons. Everything centered around the "Me" way of looking at things. WE needed to be blessed. WE needed nicer things. WE needed authority to make Our lives better. WE needed to look good and that would make others want to know Jesus. But it is not true.

As I read the gospels it is all about OTHERS. We should put OTHERS first. We should care about OTHERS. We should give to OTHERS. We should bless OTHERS. We should help OTHERS. We should esteem OTHERS above ourselves. All the power and authority and faith available to us through Jesus is not so WE can have everything we want....It is for OTHERS !!!!!!! We are to be looking for ways to SERVE OTHERS and not focus on ourselves.

We were taught that sin was no big thing as long as we were on the right path. The path to prospering. The path of tithing. The path of serving the church. Never mind that there was no ministry reaching out to the lost and hurting community. The lost and hurting community was to come to the church, get a vision of how their lives needed to be by looking at ours, tithe and give, get their words right and line up with how the pastor said it was supposed to be. Never mind that there were people being hurt and treated badly by those in the church.

Let me tell you, sin IS a big thing. Just ask those whose lives will never be the same as a result of the sin in the church. The gospel of ME doesn't want to hear or teach this truth.

I have decided to focus on the gospel of Jesus and throw the gospel of ME in the trash. I have decided that it is more important to be pure and holy than to be prosperous and say all the right things. I have decided that it is not all about ME but it is all about OTHERS. I have decided that I would rather be an example of humility than an example of pride, an example of love rather than prosperity. And for those who may not know, love is a verb. Just like faith without works is dead, love without corresponding action is not love.

I want others to want to know Jesus because of the way I ACT and not because they want what material things I have. I would rather have OTHERS in heaven with me later than have material things here on earth. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean living in poverty, Jesus said that as I seek first HIS kingdom then HE would provide for me. He is a good provider.

The gospel of ME wants me to focus on using my faith to provide for myself instead of just resting in the provision of God. I think that is exactly what the devil wants too. If he can get me focused on getting all I can from God for myself then I am no threat to him at all.

Let's come out of the fog of the gospel of ME and live in the light of the gospel of Christ.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

I remember a song that we used to sing in church when I was a young girl. I attended a Baptist church. The song said," Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

I remember there were all kinds of people in my church from the very wealthy to the not so wealthy. In the church that I last left the scope of people was the same. One church was denominational and one church was Word of Faith. Even though the scope of income in these two churches was the same, the amount of materialism in them was very different.

In the Baptist church no one's faith was ever judged by others. No one was looked down upon if they did not have enough money. People of the church and the leadership were always anxious to help anyone in need. No one's "faith" was judged by how much they had, what things happened to them, how their children acted and things like that. As a matter of fact, their "faith" was not JUDGED. Neither were the people. We were all a part of the family of God and that is all that mattered. We were taught to seek and follow Jesus not jobs, money, houses, clothes or any other material things. We were taught about treating others right.

In the Word of Faith church there was so much materialism, criticism, legalism, judgementalism,
and self. There were things that I learned in the Word of Faith church that have made a great difference in my life such as who I am in Christ, my authority over the devil, and the fact that EVERY thing that happens in not always God's will. However all these things are useless if it is all centered around me, what I can have, what I can get, what I can control and that I can do anything I want and treat others any way that I want. All of this is not the Gospel. There was no focus on helping and reaching out to people and when there was, for a little while, from time to time, it was all about raising the numbers and then after a bit it just faded away.

I know that no one has all the answers. I certainly don't. I do know that God sent Jesus to die for PEOPLE. I know that everyone who is born again has been given the measure of faith. I know that we are all JOINT heirs with Jesus. I know that through the BLOOD we are all righteous. I know that we all overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. I know that there is not an elitist group in the body of Christ. I know that we can take God at His Word because He watches over His Word to perform it. I know that the fruit that we were saved to produce was souls brought into the kingdom of God and not material things.

I have decided to turn my eyes upon Jesus and get to know Him and not spend my time and effort on getting things for me. I would rather have the brightness of Him in my life than the dimness of what I can acquire of the material things that the world has to offer.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Great Post

I was reading A Former Leader's blog today, (a link to this blog is on my blog list) and the post titled "Upsidedown Kingdom" really spoke volumes to me. I thought that this post was awesome. It really brings out what the ministry of Jesus was like. I know that in reading the New Testament, that the ministry of the church that I had been involved in was far from the ministry examples I see here in the Bible. Thank you Former Leader for a great post.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Saul, Saul, Why Do You Persecute Me?

In the book of Acts a man named Saul was going down a road to Damascus. He was a man that loved God. He was a religious man. He was going to hunt down and kill those who called Jesus their savior. He was going to kill those who were preaching the good news about Jesus. He thought that he was doing something good. He thought he was serving God. Jesus, Himself, knocked this man off of his horse and asked him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' The man repented, asked Jesus to be his savior, and went on to write the majority of the New Testament.

Jesus told Saul that he was persecuting HIM... Jesus, because he was persecuting those who believed in Him.

Today we have preachers who are supposed to be full of the Holy Spirit, standing up in pulpits, slandering and insulting people who are in the body of Christ, people who are their brothers and sisters in the Lord. Calling them clowns, punks, pea brained christians, flesh churches, idiots, and other things like that. How is this any different from Saul???? These men are persecuting Jesus by slandering members of the body of Christ and using their pulpits as a platform to do it.

Maybe it is time for these men to be knocked off of their horses. Maybe if they are, they will wake up and see that they are doing the work of the enemy and not the work of the Lord.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Faith or Formulas

Faith. What a huge subject to examine. The Bible talks a lot about faith in the New Testament. My former church talked and taught a lot about faith. We were a faith church. The pastor there supposedly lived by faith. He taught the people to "live by faith". We were taught not to be satisfied to by where we were in life because then our faith would become stagnant. We were to always be "stretching" our faith. This meant to always be striving for the bigger or better house, the nicer car, the better job, a bigger income, nicer clothes etc. We were taught that these things made others look at us and want to know Jesus.

I began to do some reading on what the Bible says about faith. I could not find one place where Jesus taught us to use our faith to gain material things. He actually told us not to even think about the material needs in our lives. He said that as we seek first the kingdom of God that all the things we have need of would be added unto us. He actually said that the Gentiles seek after material things. He never told His disciples to go out and tell others of all the nice things that they could have if they followed Him.

We were also taught a lotabout confession. We had lists and lists of scriptures to confess that related to one situation or another. There were confession books and prayers to pray over and over. In Matthew 6 Jesus talked about prayer. He said that the heathen pray using vain repetitions because they think they will be heard for their much speaking. Is that any different than believing that something will happen for us because we say it over and over? The example of prayer that Jesus gave is simple and pure. It is not a constant and repetitive confession.

Faith is a much bigger thing than a cheap meal ticket or credit card without a limit.

Stephen did miracles through faith.
People were healed through faith.
We are justified by faith.
We are made righteous by faith.
Whatever is not of faith is sin.
We live by faith.
We walk by faith in the Son of God.
We receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
We are the children of God by faith.
Faith is one of the fruits of the Spirit.
We are saved by grace through faith.
We have the shield of faith.
We inherit the promises of God through faith and patience.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.
Faith without works is dead. ( this does not mean faith to get rich)

To say that God has given us faith for us to get material things for ourselves cheapens and degrades faith. I went to Hebrews 11 and read the people of the Old Testament that were mentioned for their great faith. Solomon, the wealthiest man that ever lived was not mentioned as having great faith to attain riches. The ones mentioned here are those who lived by faith and overcame by faith.

How sad it is that in a time where we have the means and ability to reach a lost and hurting world with the true gospel of Jesus Christ that faith has been reduced to a get rich and get what you want scheme and true prayer has been reduced to repetitive formulas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Provoking Others

In a church I attended many, many years ago I had a group of friends that I spent time with. One day one of them received this letter in the mail. I watched her as she opened it and began to read. As she did, tears poured from her eyes. Then, a smile came across her face. I asked her if something was wrong. She just handed me the letter. I later asked her for a copy of it.

Here is what it said:
Dear ........,
I just wanted to tell you what a blessing you are to me. When I look at you, I see such a strong desire and commitment to serve God. As I see you with your children I am so blessed by what a wonderful mother you are.
The faithfulness and fervor with which you serve God provokes me to righteousness. I pray in the name of Jesus that God will richly bless you and abundantly meet every need in your life; exceedingly above anything that you ever thought, or hoped, or dreamed.
Thank you for being such a blessing to my life and helping me to grow by seeing the love of God in your life and your faithfulness to Him.
Love in Christ,

I still have a copy of this letter. I remember thinking that I wanted to affect some one's life for God in that way. My friend hardly knew the person that sent this letter but the way she acted and the way she treated others has affected this person and provoked them to want to serve God and show the love of God.

My friend was not a person that was well known, was not beautiful to look at, was not classy, did not have money, did not drive a nice car, did not live in a nice house, did not dress in nice clothes and did not have "great faith". It was not any of these things that made another person want to serve God. It was love. It was not just having love, it was SHOWING love.

The Bible says in Romans 2:4 that it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance. It is being loving and kind to everyone we come in contact with that makes others want to know Jesus. It is what people saw in Jesus that drew multitudes to Him. Had He not loved them completely and unconditionally all of His teaching would have been in vain.

I do desperately want to provoke others. I want to provoke them to righteousness. I want to provoke them to love. If I can let the love of God show through me enough to do this, God will have given me the desire of my heart.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Those Who Labor Among You

The other day I was thinking about all the years I had spent at my former church. I began to wonder how I had been so deceived for so long and what I needed to do in the future to make sure that I never found myself in that situation again. The Bible verse that says, know those who labor among you, came to me and I looked it up to see exactly what it said. Here it is in the amplified version:

1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
Now also we beseech you, brethren, get to know those who labor among you [recognize them for what they are, acknowledge and appreciate and respect them all]--your leaders who are over you in the Lord and those who warn and kindly reprove and exhort you. And hold them in very high and most affectionate esteem in [intelligent and sympathetic] appreciation of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we earnestly beseech you, brethren, admonish (warn and seriously advise) those who are out of line [the loafers, the disorderly, and the unruly]; encourage the timid and fainthearted, help and give your support to the weak souls, [and] be very patient with everybody [always keeping your temper].See that none of you repays another with evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and to everybody. Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; Do not spurn the gifts and utterances of the prophets [do not depreciate prophetic revelations nor despise inspired instruction or exhortation or warning]. But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast. Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be.

I italicized the beginning and the end of this passage because that is what stood out to me the most. I typed all of the passage because I am so tired of having several single scriptures read, out of context, and strung together to create a new doctrine that does not line up with what the Bible teaches.

This scripture tells us to get to know those who labor among us and those who are our leaders. The leaders at my former church did not want to get to know anyone that they were leading, and they certainly did not want those that they were leading to get to know them. They were secretive about everything that concerned their lives. They didn't want anyone to know anything about them. They only wanted people to know the image that they built for themselves and as the years went on it became apparent that this was a very false image.

It also tells us to test all things and hold fast to what is good and to stay away from evil. I began to look in the New Testament to see what leaders should be like and what I should hold fast to and what I should stay away from. I found this in Matthew and I felt like the New Living Translation gets the point across the best.

Matthew 7:15-23 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.'

I looked at the way the leadership in my former church had behaved. The way they treated people as a whole. It was so wrong. I looked at peoples' lives that had been mistreated by the leadership and the results of the way they had been treated. It was definitely bad fruit. I see by this scripture that all because someone 'prophesies, casts out demons and performs miracles' in Jesus' name it means nothing if people are treated as something to be used today and discarded tomorrow. According to this scripture someone who doesn't even know Jesus could prophesy, cast out demons and perform miracles, and at my former church there were no demons being cast out and no one performing miracles.

Proverbs 29:4 in The Message says: A leader of good judgment gives stability; an exploiting leader leaves a trail of waste. I have personally seen the trail of waste left in many peoples' lives by my former leaders.

The New King James version says it like this: The king by justice establishes the land, but he who exacts gifts and tribute overthrows it.

The dictionary definition of justice is:1) the quality of being just; fairness 2)the principle of moral rightness 3)conformity to moral rightness in action and attitude, righteousness 4)the upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment, and due rewards in accordance with honor, standards or law.

The Bible has this to say about justice in Matthew23:23 in the NIV says:"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

The most important things about the ones who labor among you is how they act. If I ever choose another church to be a part of and become a member of I will make sure that the ones in leadership positions do not neglect the more important matters such as justice, mercy and faithfulness. I will make sure I get to know those who labor with me. I will choose a church where the leaders want to labor with me and not control me and require that I labor for them instead of for the gospel.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Empowering or Crippling

Is your pastor preaching things that empower you, help you to mature spiritually and bring you to the place where your walk with God is more of a one on one level between you and God? Or is your pastor putting himself in your walk with God as a "go-between" between you and God and teaching you that you need YOUR PASTOR to be there to teach you and speak into your life so that you can have God's best?

A true pastor, a shepherd after God's own heart would have a purpose for you. That purpose would be to bring you to the level of spiritual maturity so that you didn't need him to guide you. He would encourage you to seek God on your own and hear from Him. He would desire above all things to bring you to the place that you could go out and minister to others. Even if you were not called into the full time ministry, his desire for you would be for you to be fully equipped to minister to anyone in any situation. A true pastor would not desire the place of authority in your life. He would actually want you to be independent of him and fully dependant on the Holy Spirit.If you felt in your heart that God wanted you to go somewhere else, even if it was another church, he would encourage you to follow God's leading. His desire would be for you to honor God, not honor him.

A self seeking pastor who is a shepherd after his own heart would have a totally different set of desires for you. His would set himself up as a gift of God to you. He would teach you that you need him for a covering in your life to keep the devil away from you and keep you safe. He would teach you that you need him to "speak into your life" the things that God would want you to know. He would teach that you should respect him the way you respect God and give him a place of honor in your life. He would teach you that you not only need to tithe but that you need to give and give and give so that you can be blessed. He would never want you to leave his church because then he would loose his control over you and most importantly he would loose your money.

Why would a true pastor want his sheep to be dependant? Examine your pastor and examine your life and your spiritual walk. Is your pastor feeding you truth that empowers you and enables you to become mature in the Lord. Or is he bringing you to the place where he is becoming a need in your life? Don't sit under a pastor who thinks more highly of himself than he should and claims a place in your life that he shouldn't. Find a pastor that wants you to be yourself and let God guide you. Not one that cripples you and makes you a spiritual invalid dependant on a man. Look for a pastor after GOD"S own heart not a pastor after his own heart.

Monday, September 8, 2008

How Did They Ever Make It

Today I woke up and suddenly I realized that Noah did not have a pastor. How on earth did he ever manage to understand that there was going to be a flood without someone to speak into his life? How did he ever manage to build that huge ark without the messenger of God whom God had chosen to put His word into, to go and tell Noah what to do? How did Noah survive all that time and keep the devil at bay while he was getting that ark built without a spiritual covering to keep him safe? Moses didn't have a pastor either. How did he ever manage to lead the entire nation of Israel out of Egypt without a pastor to tell him what God wanted him to do.

We have been taught that we must have a pastor. That without a pastor to "speak into our lives" that we will not have the guidance from God that we need. That we need to become a "member" of a church in order to have a "spiritual" covering. Without that covering we are just out there unprotected and a prime target for the devil. That the pastor has some great insight into life and we are to do what he says and follow his instruction and advice because he hears from God "for us" and without this pastor we cannot hear from God on our own. That if we don't do what our pastor says then we are no doing what the Word of God says.

It is like as new testament believers we have been taught that we are in many ways no better off than the old testament children of God. They had to have a priest to go to God for them but we have to have a pastor to hear from God for us and instruct us in what He would have us to do.

These pastors seem to forget that we actually have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us to lead and guide us into all truth just like they do. We all have been given the same measure of faith just like they have. We have the same authority over the devil that they do. We are a part of the same body of Christ that they are. We are joint heirs with Christ just like they are.

I have watched so many people make terrible decisions and mistakes based on what a pastor told them to do and told them it was God. I have heard pastors say things that they said God told them that weren't right. I have watched pastors manipulate and control others. I have seen pastors delve into others lives and tell them how to live when they and their own families do not live according to the Word of God. I have seen pastors that are not men of their word.

Abraham , Noah, Moses and many others somehow managed to make it without a pastor. They actually did what it took to know and communicate with God themselves and they did not even have the Holy Spirit on the inside of them. I do not need a pastor to tell me what God says or what His word says. I do not need to be told how to read and be a doer of the Word of God. I do not need someone to tell me what songs I need to sing to worship God. I am a child of God. I know Him. I am His sheep and I hear His voice and the voice of another I will not follow. I made that mistake for over a decade and I will not make it again.

Abraham, Noah and Moses made it and so will I. I will make it with God. I will make it as the head and not the tail, above and not beneath, I will make it in victory, I will overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of MY testimony..... Not what a man tells me to do.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fishers of Men or Fishers of Blessing

In the past few years at my former church a very disturbing question loomed constantly in my mind. Why was the church pastor never preaching or teaching about reaching the lost? Why were there no discipleship programs? Why was everyone who did not have the evidence of God's "blessing" in their lives looked upon as having no faith, or not doing the Word? Why was it the wealthy and prominent that were the focus?

One day during church we were singing some old songs about what Jesus had done for us and what victory we had. The pastor had made it common knowledge that he never liked the new worship songs such as Hillsongs and others like that. Suddenly I realized something. He only liked songs that talked about what he had, what his inheritance was and what he could have because of the cross. That was it! He wasn't interested in songs of adoration to the Father, adoration of Jesus, songs of surrender, or songs about crucifying the flesh. He wanted to sing about what he could have and what he could get and what he could do because of his authority.

I began to realize that all our teaching was about what we could get or have. Never about the majority of things that Jesus actually taught during his ministry. Nor about the majority of things Paul wrote to the church about. Any teaching was turned to warn ME and what I could attain or overcome. Never was it about others. Don't get me wrong, others were mentioned, but the teaching basically centered around "me".

I remember that Jesus said that He would make us "fishers of men". I realized that it had been over a decade since there was anything taught regularly in the church that could qualify as being a teaching on how to be fishers of men. It was taught that when we have money and nice things then it would draw others to Jesus. The Bible does NOT teach that. It is the way we treat others and the love we show that draws people to Jesus. It is how we act when we have been treated wrongly by others that draws people to Jesus. It is the things we do for others with the love of God evident in it that draws people to Jesus. Not our money or what we have.

It became evident to me that the church was totally focused on fishing for blessings and not men.
I believe that the deceitfulness of riches has replaced the burden for the lost in many of our churches. I have decided to be a part of a church that is full of fishers of men and not fishers of blessings. I know that as I seek first the kingdom of that God will bless me without me spending my time and effort seeking those blessings.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Don't Touch God's Anointed

In my former church, we were taught that the pastor has special anointing and that his anointing was such that it was greater than other peoples. That he was on a much higher spiritual level than all of the other people in the church. That no one was ever to question his decisions or what he did. He said on several occasions that no one in the church was qualified to correct him, that only another great preacher or prophet could do that because no one else was on his spiritual level. He put himself on the same level as an Old Testament king or prophet.

In 2Corinthians chapter one, Paul is writing to the church. First, he refers to himself as Paul, An apostle. He didn't demand title or "honor" and yet I am sure that he was much more educated than any of the pastors or so called prophets in this day and time who do demand these things. He actually comes across in his letters as humble. A quality these pastors and prophets of this day seem to lack.

In verses 21 - 22 of this same chapter he talks about the difference in him and the others in the body of Christ at Corinth that he is writing to. The Amplified translation says it like this, "But it is God Who confirms and makes us steadfast and establishes us (in joint fellowship) with you in Christ, and has consecrated and anointed us (enduing us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit). (He has also appropriated and acknowledged us as His by) putting His seal upon us and giving us His (Holy) Spirit in our hearts as the security deposit and guarantee (of the fulfilment of His promise)." This says that we are all anointed. Even Paul didn't claim to have a greater anointing than his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. He made it clear that there was NO difference in him and them.

We were always taught that scripture "touch not mine anointed" when anyone questioned what the pastor was doing or had done. This scripture was pulled out and quoted by itself. I went back and looked at both of the places it was used in the Old Testament (in context) and it is talking about the children of Israel. This scripture does not give pastors and "prophets" free reign to do anything they want to anyone they want or criticize and bash anyone they want and no one can correct them because they are "anointed" .......We all are! Nor does it give them to run the church like a dictatorship.

1 Timothy 5:19-20 NLT says, "Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two to three witnesses. Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others." This is laid out quite plainly. If your pastor refuses to listen when accused by many witnesses and refuses to reprimand sin in the church there is a problem.

It amazes me how many Old Testament scriptures pastors demand that their congregation observe, yet they seem to ignore the majority of the New Testament instructions that we (and they) are supposed to be living by.

In our former church we were taught that God created the earth and gave us dominion over it.
We are the ones who allow or don't allow certain things. If we see things that are very wrong going on with leadership in a church and people being used and abused we are taught that we are not to do anything about it because we are not on the same spiritual level as these leaders and we are not to touch God's anointed. Not only are these things in contradiction with scripture, they are in direct contradiction with what is taught at these churches. We are the ones that have allowed it and it is up to us to speak up and exercise our authority and put a stop to it.

Back in 2 Corinthians, verse 24 of that same chapter Paul said,"Not that we have dominion (over you) and lord it over your faith, but (rather that we work with you as) fellow laborers (to promote) your joy, for in (your) faith you stand firm.

If Paul didn't consider these practices right....they are not! Our pastors should be fellow laborers with us, not dictators ruling over us and calling us dummies and idiots. A pastor should fit the example set before him in the New Testament and not abuse God's anointed. God loved us so much that He gave His only son for us and He doesn't even lord that over us or rule us. A man has no business trying to do that either. Pastor or not.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pastor or Businessman

Lately I have been thinking on what a pastor is and should be. A few months ago I found myself a part of a church where the pastor is thought of and treated in a way no other pastor I have ever had has. He also thought of himself the way no other pastor I have ever had did. He also pursued material things the way no other pastor I have ever had did. He required more attention, recognition and first class treatment the way no other pastor I ever had did.

I began to realize that his characteristics, lifestyle and habits were that of a businessman and not a pastor.

A businessman:
seeks to drive a nice car
desires fine clothes
is always looking to make a profit and get more money
craves eating the best food and in the best restaurants
needs nice accommodations
avoids those that do not further his career
spends time with those who have a lot of money
expects to be addressed with a title
arranges to have people there to cater to his needs
draws attention to himself and his achievements
furthers his own interests
puts himself first
acknowledges his own qualities

A pastor:
seeks whatever transportation will take him to where he needs to go
desires that the needs of others be met not to have expensive clothes
is always looking where to use what money is available to him to help others
eats whatever and wherever
will stay anywhere as long as he can be a help and minister to others
avoids no one
spends time in ministry to the poor, lost, broken and hurting
neither demands nor desires any title
arranges to have others needs met
points all attention to Jesus
furthers the gospel (the good news that Jesus died to save us)
puts all others before himself
is humble and never toots his own horn

If you are in a church where your pastor has more of the traits of a businessman, you need to look for another church and another pastor. He can't be both. He is either one or the other and a businessman has no business trying to be or claiming to be a pastor.

Choosing to be a pastor is choosing a life of servitude.... not choosing a life of being served and pampered.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Church - Your Church - The Church

Several months ago when I left the controlling church that I was in the one thing that was of foremost importance to me was to GET OUT. I knew that there was an urgency to get away from the manipulation and control. I knew that I had spent over a decade at that place not just making friends but being part of a family. It was a family within a family. A body of believers within the body of Christ. A family that the pastor of the church had no desire to actually be a part of other than to rule over and control. I was seeing the family I had come to love dearly being torn apart. Some were forced to leave and others left because they had come to the realization that to stay was spiritually dangerous. Those who left were shunned, and those who stayed were warned not to associate with them lest bad things happen to them. This was all orchestrated by what was supposed to be loving and Godly leadership. Those who stayed and chose to associate with those who left were looked down on by those who chose to shun. It broke my heart to see all the unkindness and dissension being shown. I watched the family that I had seen stand behind one another in good times and bad being scattered all over.

Many who left went to other churches, some have no desire to ever go to church again after what they have experienced and some have church at home. In the midst of what seemed to be a hopeless situation, however, I saw some who had "ought against his brother" go to each other and talk things out. I saw families restored, friendships restored, people prosper, peace flood their lives, and love flood their hearts. When I have seen them, many actually look years younger.

I have had to repent before God for giving His honor to a man. A man that demanded it, basked in it and taught that it belonged to him but a man none the less. I have realized that I should never given a man this place in my life.  I was told he was qualified to occupy this place yet I have no one other than myself to blame for listening to this wrong teaching. AGAIN, I did not read my Bible. I have realized what a heavy burden it was to constantly struggle to live up to a false standard, and how debilitating it is to sit under false teaching.

A while back, I went to dinner with several others who had also left the church. It was such a time of refreshing. We were all so glad to see each other and so glad to be together without the shadow of control over us. It didn't matter that each of us went to different churches. We didn't have to hash out the mysteries of the deep things of God before we could enjoy each others company. There were no doctrinal agreement requirements for us to qualify to be together other than we all love Jesus. We didn't have to spend the entire time trying to convince each other that one knew all the truth. We didn't have to guard every aspect of out personalities for fear that something we said or did didn't line up with some rule being imposed over us. We just loved each other. We just enjoyed the company. Each of us knew we were just loved, not judged. How wonderful when the realization comes that we can just love and be loved for who we are. As I sat at the table and looked into the faces of these precious friends that God has placed in my life it brought tears to my eyes. It didn't matter if we all agreed on whether tongues were for today, if every or any "word from God" delivered by a man was real, if God wants us all to be rich or not, or what we should wear to church. What matters is that God put us in each others lives. He brought us together and gave us to each other to hold each other up, be there to encourage each other, pray for each other and desire the best for each other. I refuse to casually discard these treasures that I have in my life that will last for eternity like an old pair of shoes that have worn out their usefulness the way that some do. 

Yet we all do agree on some things. We love God with all our hearts. We want to see others come to know His love. We want to see the hungry fed. We want to see broken hearts healed. We want people to see His love in us. We want to be His hands and His feet allowing Him to minister through us to those He gave His life for. We love each other and we are friends...real friends.

I was taught at my old church that "it is a matter of life and death where you go to church". Paul said that to live is Christ and to die is gain. I intend to LIVE! I am going to live for Him with all I have and I will never again let a man tell me how to do that.

My friends, I love you with all my heart. I treasure each and every one of you more than you will ever know. I thank God for you. You, along with my actual family are the greatest treasures in my life.

Your church or my church? Who cares. I am privileged to be a part of "His Church" along with you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Flesh Church

This week on a "live stream" service I heard a preacher constantly referring to "flesh churches"
I began to think about all the churches that I have been a part of in my life, all the ones that I have visited, and all the ones that friends and family have been a part of. I remember the things that I loved about being a christian and how I knew that God had called me and that I had a ministry. A ministry of love and reaching souls for Jesus. Helping the hurting and needy. Upon leaving my former church I remember realizing all the years that I had wasted serving a man who demanded it instead of serving Jesus.

When I came to my former church I remember how it bothered me that I saw few of these ministries. I convinced myself that it was alright and that they were just into the deeper things of God. As the years went by, the church became so centered around money and the pride of the leadership that it was hard to stomach. I saw how people were treated and humiliated.

All of this was to make the pastor feel better or let the congregation know how he was in the right and others were in the wrong...... flesh

There were parties and events to make the pastor feel loved and appreciated.....flesh

There was rampant sin in the leadership (but only some, not all).....flesh

Honor to the pastor was expected and required.....flesh

People were judged by how they looked.....flesh

The rich were praised.....flesh

Private not commercial flights.....flesh

Only the best clothes.....flesh

Shots and fad diets to get skinny.....flesh

When there were special meetings:

Feed all the ministers by special invitation...flesh

Buy big name ministers expensive gifts.....flesh

Decorate so everything would be pleasing to the eye.....flesh

Money, money, money come to us so we can have it all.....flesh

Give jewelry to adorn the flesh.....flesh

Talk about how faith is classy.....flesh

Ignore reprimanding sin and responsibility for one's actions.....flesh

Require forgiveness but slander those who have "done you wrong"...flesh

Ignore those you see who, have left and gone to another church, try to be pleasant to you.....flesh

Pray for bad to come to those who have wronged you.....flesh

The list could go on and on. This church is the complete example of the flesh church. I remember looking at the leader of this church and realizing that there is not one thing about him that reminds me of Jesus. I remember that there was not one area of his life that I wanted my life to resemble in any way. I remember that I realized that if his life and relationships were an example of the "blessing of the Lord" then I didn't want any part of that particular type of "blessing". I know people who don't even know God with more love and integrity in their little finger than I have seen displayed by the leadership of this church.

A Spirit church would have:

Members who were loved and appreciated regardless of their pocket book

People being saved during a week long, 12 service meeting

A pastor who is a shepherd not an elitist

Ministry to the poor

A pastor who showed up at funerals



Congregation members who feel loved

Giving to the poor and widows, not the well off already

Examples of the fruit of the Spirit in the lives of their leadership

1 Corinthians 13 in operation from the pulpit

A guest minister should know something about the churches he is talking about before he opens his mouth in judgement or support of those churches. For him to speak against other pastors and call their churches "flesh" when he doesn't know first hand what he is talking about is wrong. I thought that we were not supposed to "touch God's anointed" He needed to deal with all the flesh in the church that he was standing in before he began to attack others.

How pleasant it is now to sit in a service and not hear one church or denomination bashed from the pulpit. Not hear one community member slandered from the pulpit. Listen to someone preach who does not have to be constantly tooting his own horn and demanding glory for himself. Not to hear money and tithe rammed down my throat. Tithe is great, but I would like to see some mercy and justice.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Deceitfullness of Riches

What exactly is the deceitfulness of riches? It could be.......choosing to keep all your riches and not giving to God...... or ......thinking that the measure of riches you posses shows your faith.

In the parable of the sower(Matt.13), Jesus speaks of the Word of God being sown in peoples' hearts. In one verse He talks about the seed that is sown among the thorns and the deceitfulness of riches that chokes out the Word and makes it unfruitful in their lives.

I have always heard this taught by preachers. They say that the deceitfulness of riches is what occurs when we begin to desire things to the degree that we withhold the tithe and spend it on ourselves, something we want, or, when we use the tithe to pay our bills because we don't have enough faith to give our tithe first and know that God will somehow get our bills paid because we tithed first. This breaking of the letter of the law brings the curse on us and on our finances and chokes the Word that has been sown in our hearts out.

What if that is not what the deceitfulness of riches is at all. What if the deceitfulness of riches is distorting the Word of God where money is concerned.

Many preachers believe that God's people are entitled to be rich, wealthy with money, especially the preachers. They spend and enormous amount of time teaching the letter of the law on tithing. They teach their congregation to focus on money. Calling it in, talking to it, and using their faith to get it. They place much more importance on tithe, giving and money than they do on love, repentance, joy, giving to the poor, helping those in need, loving your enemy, praying for others, reaching the lost, the cross, the resurrection, salvation and countless other aspects of the gospel. Everyone is focused on money. The Word of God is choked out.

1Timothy3-10 in the Amplified says: But if anyone teaches otherwise and does not assent to the sound and wholesome messages of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and the teaching which is in agreement with godliness (piety toward God) He is puffed up with pride and stupefied with conceit,(although he is) woefully ignorant. He has a morbid fondness for controversy and disputes and strife about words which result in (produce) envy and jealousy, quarrels and dissension, abuse and insults and slander, and base suspicions. And protracted wrangling and wearing discussion and perpetual friction among men who are corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, who imagine that godliness or righteousness is a source of profit (a moneymaking business, a means of livelihood). From such withdraw. (And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit, for) godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content (satisfied). But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish (useless, godless) and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction and miserable perishing. For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute (mental) pangs.

The Bible says to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things (material things) will be added unto you. Yet churches have service after service and preachers have sermon after sermon based on getting material things. They claim that this is to get the work of God done yet the work of God is not getting done using the finances they already have available. The Word of God is not only being choked out of the congregations' lives, but the Word is so choked out of the pastors lives to the degree that only a tiny amount of the Word is being sown into the people.

If the letter of the law on tithing is not what we are supposed to do as the New Testament church. If true new testament giving is cheerful and as each has purposed in his own heart (2 Cor.9:7), then it will be more than enough to supply all the need of the church. New Testament giving would be more than the tithe. It shows such a lack of faith on the preachers' part to constantly harp on tithing and giving, trying by manipulation to pull every cent out of churchgoers. It shows that they do not think God is capable of speaking to His children's hearts and prompting them to give out of a heart of love. Not only do they lack the faith for God to supply their need, they keep the word "tithe" in front of the people so much by beating them over the head with the law that they are supposed to be redeemed from, that they feel once they have given their ten percent, they don't want to think of giving anymore. They have had it forced on them by a law enforcer till they don't want to think about it anymore.

Matthew 23:23-24 says: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

There is rampant sin in the church among some leadership. Many come to churches every week and never hear the weightier matters taught. Many never hear repentance taught. They are told they need to be saved but are never explained what happened at the cross and what it meant. They are just told to repeat a prayer that they don't understand. The gospel is the good news about Jesus, not about money.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Glory to God

I know many of us stand in church during song service and shout "Glory! Glory! Glory to God! Glory!" When we tell others of something we have been believing God for or something good that has happened to us we will say, "Glory to God!" It is like that phrase or those words have become so commonplace to us that we give little or no thought to what it means, or if we are really giving or bringing glory to God.

We have been taught that looking good, having nice things and having money draws people to Jesus and brings glory to God and not having nice things and not looking well dressed and well off makes God look bad. That is not true. We have been taught that digging in the Bible and finding a verse that somehow applies to something we want, or to something we want done and standing on it until we get what we want brings glory to God and draws others to Him. That is not what Jesus said.

In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus is teaching on the mountain and in His message He is speaking of those who will be blessed. In the Amplified Bible, the word blessed in these passages means....."happy, to be envied, spiritually prosperous--with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions". The word blessed has nothing to do with having money or nice things. It means to be spiritually prosperous regardless of outward conditions. He goes on in this passage to explain who is blessed... the humble, those who rate themselves insignificant...those who mourn...the mild, patient and longsuffering...those who hunger for uprightness and right standing with God...the merciful...the pure in heart...the makers and maintainers of peace...those who are persecuted for righteousness sake (for being and doing right)...those who are reviled and persecuted and have evil spoken about them for Jesus' sake. He tells us...Matt.5:16 Amplified.."let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven." THIS is what brings glory to God. The way we act, what we are and how we treat others, not how much money or nice things we have or how good we look.

All the money, nice things and expensive clothes in the world will not glorify God. Only people themselves can do that and not because of what they have but because of how they act toward others and who they are. All the polish and practice at looking good cannot disguise the way a person acts when they are persecuted or treated badly. Do they turn the other cheek, give their coat when someone takes their shirt, go two miles when forced to go one, give to those who beg, love their enemies, and pray for those who persecute them? And I don't think Jesus meant pray for bad things to happen to them or that God would "beat their enemies down before their face".
Jesus said that if we only greet our brethren... the heathen do that, and if we only love those who love us, what reward do we have.

Love in action and the fruit of the spirit being evident in our day to day lives is what draws others to Jesus and brings glory to God.

It is time for us to grow up! We are not a bunch of kindergartners on a playground. We are supposed to be God's children letting Him live through us. We should be concentrating on "growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity" not concentrating on what we have or what we can get.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Who are the Teachers and Why

Where in the New Testament are we taught that we need a "man of God" or a "covering" in order to serve God in what we are called to do. I began doing a word search of the New Testament on teachers, pastors, overseers and leaders to see what the Bible had to say about these things.

Overall, the New Testament teaches that we are all the "body of Christ". It does not teach that we are all a bunch of little bodies under many coverings and that there are separate "men of God" that are ordained to "speak into our lives" or "receive the Word of God for us". It does not teach us to slander or criticize others in the body of Christ because they are not as "spiritually knowledgeable" as others. It does not even teach us to go to a "church building" and sit under the "pastor" there in order to receive from God. There are many other practices that the New Testament does not teach. I have decided to focus on what it does teach and only that. If I can't find it in the Bible, then I am not interested.

In Hebrews 10:24-25, the Bible tells us not to "forsake the assembling of ourselves together". The New Living Translation says it like this, "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." I see here that it is not telling us to go and sit and listen to a preacher tell us how to get blessed, get more money, serve that particular ministry leader, or stretch our faith to get things for ourselves. This passage tells us to be about doing acts of love and good works which has nothing to do with getting something for ourselves. It also doesn't tell us that we have to be in a formal church building to do this.

There is nothing wrong with going to church. I believe that going to church is very important, but there is also nothing wrong with meeting with each other outside of the church. It also doesn't tell us that we have to join a particular church so we can be "under" a particular man of God. We joined "The Church" when we asked Jesus into our hearts and made him the Lord of our lives, and Jesus is our man of God, our advocate, our "covering". There is nothing wrong with joining a church. It helps us come to know other believers and become active in ministry. It gives us a local "body of believers" to stand with us and fellowship with. The problem comes in when a local church teaches that it is the only church with right teaching and that other churches are wrong, dumb and in error. Matthew 6:33 in the NLT says,"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Romans 14:17 NLT tells us that "the Kingdom of God is living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". This is not equivalent to living a life of getting what we are entitled to, or what we believe for, or what we confess from God.

Jesus, himself, said in Matt.23:8-12 said,"Don't let anyone call you 'Rabbi,' for you have only one teacher, and all of you are EQUAL as brothers and sisters. And don't address anyone here on earth as 'Father,' for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don't let anyone call you 'Teacher,' for you have only one teacher, the Messiah." If you are in a church that the pastor there insists or expects you to call him, 'Pastor,' as a title and feels that he is above you in some sort of spiritual rank, then he is wrong. According to Jesus we are all equal. Look for a church with a pastor that sees himself as your brother.

1 John 2:27 NIV says, "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit- just as it has taught you, remain in him." Colossians 3:16 in the amplified says,"Let the word spoken by Christ, the Messiah, have its home in your hearts and minds, and dwell in you in all its richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom (in spiritual things, and as you sing) psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with (His) grace in your hearts." We are supposed to be teaching each other. Everything taught should line up with the entire Bible in every way. If you are in a church that only the "Pastor" teaches on a regular basis and you are encouraged not to visit other churches "ever" and not to listen to anyone other than those that he personally endorses, this is a warning sign. If this Pastor is teaching predominately out of the Old Testament and pulling isolated scriptures out and building teachings around them, then you need to look in your Bible and see if they line up with New Testament teachings. If you have trouble making sure these teachings are totally correct, then find another church.

The Bible stated some requirements for those who would be leaders in the church. The Message translation 1Timothy3:1-7 says,"If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he's talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God's church? He must not be a new believer, lest the position go to his head and the Devil trip him up. Outsiders must think well of him, or else the Devil will figure out a way to lure him into his trap". These preconditions are not just suggestions... they are requirements, and not just some of them, but all of them.

Here are some questions for you to answer:
Is your pastor well thought of by outsiders?......Committed to his wife?......Cool and collected?.....Accessible?.....Hospitable?....Does he know what he is talking about? Are you sure?....Is his life public enough for you to even know if he drinks wine?....Is he gentle?.....Does every criticism get to him (is he thin-skinned)?..... Is he money-hungry? Is money mentioned in every service? Are you taught to give more to get what you need or desire from God?

If the pastor of the church you are attending does not line up with these things clearly spelled out preconditions in the Bible then you need to find another church.

A pastor's life should be a public life, not a secret life. Many people in the church should be involved in the workings and decisions of the church. Not just the pastor, his family and his hand picked "board". The church should not be a dictatorship.

The pulpit should not be used for a personal agenda or to criticize people or other churches. The church should have evidence and fruit of acts of love and good works, (this is not just teaching those attending how to get what they want from God).

Let's think for ourselves, hear from God ourselves, ask questions, require accountability and examine the "work of God" that we are involved in. Let's get on with God's business and quit focusing on our business.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Good Fruit & Bad Fruit

In the Word of God we are told that good fruit and bad fruit cannot come from the same tree.

Matthew 7:15-20 in the King James Version says, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. "

The Message translation says, "Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions of your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned."

In looking at these scriptures I began to evaluate the fruit of the church that I used to attend. In a previous post, Where is the Fruit, I stated that I had searched for good fruit and had a problem finding any lasting good fruit. The bad fruit has a horrifically wide range. Many people over the years have been hurt and abused in many ways. Some never want to go to church again. Some feel that they can never trust church leadership again. Many who truly need pastoral guidance in their lives have never had it from a true pastor and will never give another pastor the chance to minister to them on a personal level.

I find it devastating that I was so enamored with the leadership of this church, with their charisma and practiced sincerity that I chose to overlook so many things that I knew in my heart were wrong. How did I allow myself to be so deceived for so long? Unfortunately, I did not read my Bible. Here in these scriptures, it is unmistakeably evident that I was part of a very bad tree. I will never again excuse things that do not line up with scripture or things that don't seem right about the church I am attending. I encourage anyone who is in a church that raises even the smallest question or doubt on the inside to step back and examine the whole picture of that church.

I know there are many churches and ministries out there that have leadership with character and integrity. Do not settle for a cheap fabrication of a shepherd after God's own heart. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and trust what He it telling YOU. Ask questions. If you are in a church where questions about the leadership are frowned upon..... leave. God is perfectly capable of leading you, His sheep, to green pastures and still waters, and a pastor who loves with actions that can be seen and not words without action.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Let's Have Some Balance

Lately I have begun to wonder how so many churches can get so far in the ditch so to speak on one side or another. On one side you have the churches who do not believe in the gifts of the Spirit at all and on the other side you have all the churches who have perverted it to the extreme.

I grew up in a denominational church. I learned a lot about the love of God there. That He loved us so much He sent His only son to suffer and die on the cross for us in order to pay the price for our sin. I learned what true repentance was. That no one could go to heaven unless they realized that they were a sinner, repented of their sin, asked Jesus into their heart and made Him the lord of their life. I learned how to treat other people according to the teachings of Jesus and the letters to the church in the new testament. I learned about baptism. That when a person is born again (asks Jesus into their heart), that water baptism represents the old man dying to sin and the new man being alive in Jesus. This was such an important thing to God that even Jesus was baptised. I learned about the Lord's supper,or communion, that it was a practice of drinking juice and eating bread during the church service to remind us of what Jesus has done for us. He gave His blood and His body as the ultimate sacrifice. I learned about giving offerings and that it was important to be in church on a regular basis. That it was important to help those in need, those who were poor, those who were hurt, and those who asked.

Then I had my first taste of a full gospel church. I heard things being taught that I had never heard before. That being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues was for today. That He speaks to us regularly and if we will listen to His still small voice He will lead us and guide us daily. That God still heals people and I can trust and believe Him for my health. That He is our provision. That the things that I say and do have a direct affect on the life that I live and that everything that happens is not God's will. I learned for the first time that God has given dominion on earth to us. He is not up in heaven playing us like a game. That He never causes bad things to happen or makes us sick to teach us something. That the Bible means what it says....period. That God's will is made evident in the Bible and I can pray, knowing His will and believe Him to watch over His word to perform it in my life.

In the denominational church we were taught that no matter what happens, it is God's will. That we have nothing to do with what happens in life. Basically that you are born again and you just do the best you can until you die and go to heaven or until Jesus comes back. If you get cancer, fall off a cliff, your infant dies, you get a great job, you avoid a car crash....anything: it is all God's will. That once you are born again, that is all there is. You have no responsibility for anything that comes along in your life. Just love God and obey Him.

In the full gospel church we were taught that everything that comes along is not necessarily God's will. That the devil comes to kill, steal and destroy. That the Word of God (the Bible) is alive and powerful. That we reap according to what we sow (and this is not talking about money). That we are redeemed from the curse of the law. That we have been given authority over the devil and that we overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. That we are to be doers of the word and not just hearers. That we have a responsibility to take the Word of God and apply it to our lives.

In the denominational church that I grew up in, it was impossible for anyone to come more than once or twice and not hear the good news that Jesus died for their sins. It was fully explained on a regular basis from the pulpit what it meant to be born again, exactly what that involved and then how to live a Godly and holy life with Jesus as Lord. They had the Lord's supper and baptism services several times a year. Messages were taught on what it meant to live a holy life and live for Jesus. WE were taught that every Christian made up the body of Christ and we could love and fellowship with them whether they attended our church or another church. It was all about us serving Him and bringing others to Him.

In the full gospel church it was impossible, at one time, for anyone to come and not be taught about who they were in Christ. That the work on the cross was all encompassing.... salvation includes health, provision, security, peace and joy. That we have authority over the enemy and we can exercise that authority in our lives. That God wants to be an active part of every tiny aspect of our lives. That we can believe the Word of God, stand on it and see it come to pass in our lives.

Yet in the full gospel church that I was in these teachings began to take a wrong turn. Forgiveness became and excuse for some to get involved in atrocious sin and never have to accept any responsibility for it. The tithes and offerings became a way to buy God's blessing and "miracles" or a way to incur His curse if you did not meet the letter of the law. The Word of God and the blood of Jesus became a basis for people to get what they wanted from God not give their lives in humble service to Him. The prayer of salvation became an after thought on services that were predominately centered around money and things and how to get them from God. Baptism services became a thing of the past with no plans to provide for them in the future. Living holy lives became not so important as long as you had a Godly goal in mind. All Christians were not worthy of our fellowship. It was dangerous to talk and spend time with those who were not as "spiritually mature or knowledgeable" as those at our church. If anyone left our church to go to another we were to break ties with them. They were wrong and deceived. It stopped being all about Jesus and us serving Him and it became all about us and what we could get from Him, what we could demand because of His Word and what we could get using His name. People in need, the poor, those hurting needed to use their faith and sow a seed.... not receive help from the church.

Somewhere there must be churches with balance. People who can believe the full gospel and still put the emphasis on salvation, winning the lost to Jesus and living holy lives. People that can live in the full blessings of God and still put Him first all the time. People who love EVERYONE with the love of God and put others before themselves. Pastors and preachers who can live in the blessings of God without allowing greed and pride to poison everything and everyone around them. People who live the truth for all to see and not an illusion or image that they have created to disguise who and what they really are.

Time is short. His return is soon. It is time for us to find the road of His love, His compassion, His completeness, His calling, His fullness, His fruit and stay out of the ditches.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tithe, Tithe Let's Preach the Tithe

What is the tithe? The Bible says that it is a tenth. A tenth of your increase... the things God blesses you with. Malachi 3:10 says "Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. I truly believe this verse of scripture, just as I believe all scripture. I have been a tither and have seen God bless me greatly. I also know that tithing is not a requirement for me to receive from God.

Many preachers teach that if you do not tithe you are not going to receive anything from God. This includes healing, provision, blessings and guidance.Or that if you are believing God for something and you haven't seen it happen yet, then you need to tithe if you are not already tithing. If you are tithing, then you need to sow a monetary seed or a bigger monetary seed.If you do this, then what you are believing for will happen. They teach on the tithe to frighten and threaten people into giving. They make a huge production out of the offering. They preach sermons on the dangers of not tithing. They quote Malachi 3: 8-12 and explain that we are robbing God when we don't tithe and that when we do that He rebukes the devourer and we are blessed.... that we receive healing because we are tithers, that circumstances change for our better because we are tithers and that bad things won't happen to us because we are tithers. That we should find good rich ground to sow our tithe into so we can get more back. Give more offerings so we can reap more and more. Get into faith for bigger and better houses, cars, clothes, etc. We should never be satisfied where we are materially or financially..... that would be not using our faith. We need to constantly be believing and using our faith to get more and more material things. We MUST tithe so we can reap.

They don't preach on Malachi 3:1-7, that talks about giving offerings in righteousness, about God's judgement against manipulators, adulterers, those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, the fatherless and those who turn aside the temporary resident from his right and fear not the Lord. What good does it do to tithe if you already have incurred His judgement because you do not treat others right.

Yet after all this was written, Jesus came! He came to set us free. He loved us so much that HE died on the cross for us. He became sin for us so that we didn't have to be ruled by sin, by our flesh and so we didn't have to pay the price for our sin. He became poor so that we could be rich, have provision through Him, and have our needs met according to His riches in glory. He was beaten until He was no longer recognizable as a human being so that we could walk in health.

Oh how we belittle the great, unimaginable, inconceivable price that He paid when it is implied that the tithe has anything to do with us receiving any of this that He so lovingly purchased for us with His own precious blood.

Malachi was written when God's people were under the law. Now we are under the law of love. Faith works by love, not tithe. Why don't we have more preachers that teach love (how to treat others) and then use their faith for God to move on peoples' hearts to give. Why don't they be an example of something that people would want to give to instead of an example of money extractors.

II Corinthians 9 begins talking about an offering that is to be given to the Saints in Jerusalem from the Corinthians. Then in verses 5-7 he says,"That is why I thought it necessary to urge these brethren to go to you before I do and make arrangements in advance for this bountiful, promised gift of yours, so that it may be ready, not as an extortion (wrung out of you) but as a generous and willing gift. (Remember) this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly, will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously (that blessings may come to someone) will also reap generously and with blessings. Let each one (give) as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous,"prompt to do it") giver (whose heart is in his giving).

I am a tither and a giver because I love Him and I want to give to Him, not because I have to or I am afraid of what will happen if I don't. Yet I want to give to a ministry that is an example of love and not law, humility and not pride, one who gives to the poor and needy, not to the most prosperous ministry or person they can find because they think that this will bring the greatest financial harvest on their seed they have sown.I want to give to someone that is an example of the love, caring and compassion of Jesus and not an example of how to use His word to get rich.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Word From God

What exactly is a word from God? Service after service in charismatic circles ministers in the pulpit deliver "words from God". They may come with or without a message in tongues first. They are usually to well known members in the church or others in the ministry that may be attending the service. As the years have gone by and I began to look back on certain things that I thought were so supernatural and spiritual about the church I had attended, I began to realize some things about these "words" that were delivered.

First, when it was the pastor delivering the word, it was always to someone well known in the church, a prominent person... or someone that he knew of a situation already going on in their life. If it was a guest minister, they usually had a word for our pastor or other visiting ministers that they knew, or a word for our church concerning a church wide situation that was already going on. Every now and then someone visiting would give a general word for the church that was concerning the future. It was never for someone sitting as far back as the third row or behind.

Second, if the word delivered to an individual didn't happen the explanation was that they didn't line up or that they didn't receive the word. Concerning the words given to the church in general, some did happen, however, you couldn't tell if it was really God doing it or if it was the pastor making it happen. Many of the words were so general it could take decades or more to see if they were correct.

Third, and enormous amount of emphasis was put on these words. They were transcribed, typed up, made available , printed in bulletins, and brought up over and over. It seemed to be such an exciting thing for someone to have a "word". Everyone would stop and give their undivided attention when a "word" came forth.

I do believe in the supernatural from God. I do believe that He can speak a word to someone. I do believe in tongues and interpretation. Yet, I believe the words should not have a personal spin on them. I think that if they are truly from God, they should happen. I think they should be about the kingdom of God and not about money or things. I believe they should glorify God and not the ability of the man that delivered them. I believe they should excite people about Jesus and not the man that gave them. I believe that they should point us to the Word of God and get us excited about it and about Jesus.

God gave us His word. It is the infallible, complete expression of Himself. It is Jesus in print. It is every answer we will ever need. It is the solution to every problem. We should be so much more excited about the Word of God than we are about a word a man says that he heard from God.

I have seen so many people become confused or disillusioned because of a "word" that was given to them. I have seen many make mistakes because a minister told them to do something and said that it was God.

We have the Holy Spirit on the inside of us. He is our teacher. We are God's sheep and WE hear His voice. We have His word. The Word. I believe that I will test "words" from now on and measure them by the Word. I will also determine who I will listen to by the fruit that their public and personal lives produce. No fruit..... I am not interested.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Love or Control

A thought came to me the other day. What place does control of others have in the walk of love and service to God? Why do some pastors and preachers use manipulation from the pulpit to control their congregation. They try to control what the members do, who they fellowship with and who they talk to. They even try to control what they talk about. They constantly manipulate them into giving more and more. They use fear tactics to try and keep anyone from leaving to attend or even visit other churches. When their children become adults, they exercise a huge amount of control over their lives and even their grandchildren's lives. Many who attend these churches follow these wrong examples.

A need to control shows fear and a lack of faith. Fear of what will happen if the people are not controlled. Fear is the opposite of faith. Shouldn't they trust God for everything. What if some don't tithe? Isn't God capable of supplying their needs? Isn't He capable of speaking to His own sheep and leading them to give? What kind of faith is it to constantly beat them over the head with messages about giving more money? What if some leave? Can't God bring more people in? More fear. What if some talk and say something wrong? So. Isn't God big enough to handle that? Jesus didn't worry about what people said about Him. Maybe that is because He was full of faith and love and He was without fear and sin.

God is love. He is the total definition and example of love. If there were any place in love for control then God would control us to some degree. Yet He is just the opposite. He never forces anyone to do anything. He never pushes Himself on anyone.....He is a gentleman. He tenderly and gently invites us, courts us and calls us. He stands at the door to our hearts and knocks.... not busts down the door. He won't even open it. He waits on us to open the door to out hearts and invite Him in.

God willingly and lovingly created us with a free will. Knowing how the human race would use that free will, He formed a plan before the foundation of the world to send a sacrifice to redeem us from the situation that our free will got us into. Even though He loves us with jealous love, a love that no man can fathom or understand, He chose to create us with 100 per cent FREE WILL, and absolutely zero control over us. He then sent His only son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for all who would accept what He did for them. He sent us His Word to teach us how to live our lives for Him. Yet after all this, He never makes or forces anyone to accept Jesus. The choice to follow Him is OURS.... not His.

1John 4:18 says, "perfect love casts out all fear".... I believe that perfect love casts out all control.
I choose faith and not fear. I choose to allow people to be who they are and not manipulate. I choose love and not control.

Monday, July 14, 2008

People....Trash or Treasure

Could it be that the way that we choose to treat the people around us reveals the truth about how we feel about them? Do we view each and every human being that God created in His image as a treasure or do we view some of them as trash?

I had noticed over the years that there was a distinct difference in the way that people who attended the church were treated.It was as though people were sorted into groups according to how much money they made, how they dressed and what they could achieve using their faith. There were the "elite", the "prominent and preferential", the "desirables", the "commoners" and the "undesirables". Each of these groups of people had their own characteristics and their own level of acceptance with the pastor, the pastor's family,some of the pastoral staff and, of course, other church members.

First and foremost.....the elite. These were the pastor and his family and the super spiritual prophets and teachers invited to minister at the church. The ones who were ushered out into the sanctuary from behind the stage along with their entourage after the service began and made their timely exit before the service officially ended. This way they could be ushered out of the building or to the set aside area of the building where they were to be served a meal so that they didn't have to come in contact with the common church people.

Next......the prominent and preferential. These were the big money people. Those who were all about making the pastor and his family feel petted, pampered and served. The ones who took them on trips and bought them things.

Then came.....the desirables. The upper middle class church members. They were nice dressers and regular givers. They lived in nice houses and drove nice cars. They were heavily involved in the serving ministry. They may have not been where they are now when they first came to the church, but they were moving up, the money was coming in, they were a success in progress... they had faith. They set forth the image that the pastor wanted his church to have

Now these first three groups of people had a pretty good life at the church. They were welcomed and accepted. If something good happened to them or they came into some good favor or a large sum of money they may have even gotten their name mentioned from the pulpit during a sermon or been asked to share about their good fortune with the congregation. During the services it was not at all uncommon for the pastor to have "a word from the Lord" for them or for members of their family. Many had regular seats that were reserved for them towards the front or on the front row. In times of crisis or trouble the majority of them could easily get an audience with the pastor to get help in their time of need. Some even had his cell number. The majority of these people were heavily involved in the servants ministry so the pastor, his family and his staff were very appreciative of them. They may have even taken the time to converse with them casually before of after the services. Some may have been invited to personal functions or out to lunch etc. Some may even been invited to eat with the special ministers, or invited to serve them food to them at their special dinners.

After that came.... the commoners. These people were just your average, run of the mill, everyday people. They ranged from those who came every time the doors were open to those who only came occasionally. Some served in the servants ministry and were regular givers and some did neither. Some may have been poor, in need, confused, abused, looking for direction, needing counsel, had questions about the Bible, needed fellowship, or needed someone to love them and show an interest in them. They may have felt lonely, sad, used, betrayed, disillusioned or abandoned.

Finally came..... the undesirables. The ones who were the down and out, nothing seemed to go right for them, no matter how they tried or believed or confessed, their situation didn't seem to improve. They may have had holes in their clothes, drove a rattle trap car, looked unkempt, dressed a little promiscuously, asked or said the same things repeatedly. Some were there every service and some may have only shown up once and never came back. Then there were all those in between.

These last two groups some were accepted and some were merely tolerated. Some more easily than others. Some were just endured until they finally left. Regardless of the situation, there was no way they could ever obtain an audience with the pastor. No matter how they may have longed for recognition and personal encouragement none ever came. Needless to say there was never a "word from the Lord" for them during a service. Yet it seems that in Jesus' ministry, He was here for these just as much as anyone else if not more so, the ones He spent time with, the least of these.

James 2:2-5 (NIV) Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say," Here is a good seat for you,"but say to the poor men, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor (or back row), have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers:Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love Him? But you have insulted the poor.

I realize this is not exactly what I saw happening when a pastor favored the wealthy of his flock and basically ignored the poor, after all in this passage these appear to be first time visitors and the practices I am talking about were a constant ongoing thing. Yet it is obvious that something is horribly wrong with these practices. It is appalling.

I pray that these pastors will wake up and realize what ministry truly is and discontinue practicing what they have twisted it into. Too many people need to see Jesus and this does not resemble Him in any way.