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.