Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Beginning of Faith

This is the first passage in the New Testament where the word "faith" is mentioned. How fitting that it is mentioned by Jesus.

Matthew 6:20-35 (King James Version)
20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
22The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

It seems to me that in this passage, Jesus is telling us to "take no thought" for what we will eat, drink or wear. In the sentence where He mentions faith it is like if we think that we need to ask Him for these things then we don't have faith. Not that we should use our faith to ask for and attain these things. He is saying that God knows all our needs and if we seek first the kingdom of God then God will provide these things for us without us even thinking about them. He says that these things are what the Gentiles seek after.

The next passage where faith is mentioned again is by Jesus:

Matthew 8:5-11 (King James Version)
5And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
8The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
10When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
11And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus marveled at this man's faith. He didn't feel the need to confess repeatedly, ask again repeatedly or figure out how to receive. He KNEW that what Jesus said would be done and he knew it even without Jesus being there.

Matthew 8:24-27 (King James Version)

24And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
25And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
26And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
27But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Here in this passage Jesus told the disciples that they had little faith. Maybe it was because they were so afraid of their circumstances and they didn't KNOW that He would take care of them. Whatever the reason, it had nothing to do with their material needs.

The next:

Matthew 9:2 (King James Version)
2And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

In this passage, the people NEVER asked Jesus for anything. He SAW their faith and healed the man. Could it be because He saw that they KNEW that He would heal the man if they just brought him to Jesus.

This is just the start for me. I doubt that I will comment on every place in the New Testament where faith is mentioned and yet I might. I know that this seems to be the beginning of the truth that what I have been taught about faith is definitely false teaching.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is Faith

For the past fifteen years, I have been deceiving myself by listening to teachers and preachers teaching the faith message. I neglected my responsibility to prove out what I heard by the Word of God and listened to the false teaching that faith was for me to use to get things for myself.

Whether it was for circumstances to change to my advantage or for material things that I wanted or needed. I foolishly believed that if I got things using my "faith" that I actually had faith. I have come to believe that faith actually has nothing to do with material things or circumstances that I want.

The word "faith" is used in the King James Version of the New Testament 231 times. In glancing through the passages that contain the word "faith", I found that I could not find any passage where we were instructed to use our faith for money, houses, clothes, jobs, or any material thing. I can't find where we were instructed to use our faith for the necessities of life or to get what we want. I have come to the conclusion that our faith is for furthering the kingdom of God, to help us live holy lives, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation, and to love others with the love of God.

My blog posts may not be so controversial for a while but I am going to satisfy the questions I have about all I have been taught for the last fifteen years. I think faith should provoke us to want to DO something FOR God not GET something FROM Him. So I am going to go through and actually READ every passage IN CONTEXT where faith is mentioned in the New Testament and see for myself what it is. Maybe then I will get back to my "first love". I remember it and can feel it tugging at me. I am determined to rediscover it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Faith in Action

James 2:14-18 New International Version (NIV)
Faith and Deeds
14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

I remember in my former church the pastor proclaimed himself to be a faith teacher. He professed to have a great anointing in the faith area. On more that one occasion I heard him call his wonderful faith that he had perfected "BMW faith". He got all kinds of material things with his faith. His great BMW faith got him a BMW, houses, fine dinners, top of the line suits, top of the line shoes, jewelry for his wife, extravagant vacations, the best of everything. He encouraged and provoked his congregation to believe for the best of all material things. After all, he taught that if you had nice things, money and looked good that it would attract people to God and if you looked not so good that no one would be attracted to God. Of course there is not one place in the Bible that teaches this, but he was such a master manipulator that as he strung one scripture after another together, taken out of context, to form his wonderful faith doctrine , I bought it hook, line and sinker.

Never were we pushed or provoked to use our faith to reach out to the community, to reach the lost, to feed the hungry, or to help the needy. Our church did have a prison ministry but no outreach to the community unless there was gain in it for the church.

I went to Linn Park in downtown Birmingham last Sunday morning and I saw a man with GREAT FAITH for the first time. He arrived at the park before 7:00 a.m. and began to set up. He had a small trailer equipped to serve hot food. He pulled out his generator to power his speakers and sound system. He was not there to preach church. He was not there to teach faith. He was not there to take up and offering. He was there to tell people about the saving grace and the love of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not a part of his message. The name of Jesus was not thrown about as a way to get things. The message was Jesus and only Jesus. He came there for people who had nothing to give in return. He was there for the homeless, the forgotten, the ignored and the destitute. He came to tell them that Jesus loves them, that He died for them, that they are of value to God, that they were important. My former pastor referred to these type of people as "losers". This man looked on them as treasures. After he and the others who had chosen to come out in the cold on that Sunday morning had ministered to all who wanted to receive Jesus as their personal savior and all who wanted prayer, he opened up the window of his trailer and began to serve a hot meal to each individual.

I stood and watched with tears in my eyes and asked God to forgive me for all those wasted years that I allowed my selfishness and self centered thinking to put me in a position to believe a false doctrine that faith was all about getting things for myself and getting the good life for myself.

I could see this man in Heaven with a multitude coming up to him and thanking him for touching their lives for Jesus. I could see Jesus telling him that when he had done this unto the least of these, he had done it unto Jesus. I could see Jesus telling him, "Well done my good and faithful servant"

I don't think I will hear those words because I believed for a car, a house, a job, clothes or money. If I recall correctly I believe that Jesus told the multitudes to take no thought for these things, but seek first the kingdom of God and all these things would be added unto us. Maybe if all these things aren't being added unto us it has nothing to do with what we believe God for, maybe it has to do with us seeking after the wrong things.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Churches, Working Together or Dividing

In the church that I was a member for over a decade there was put forth and taught a mindset that I have never seen or heard of in any other church that I attended or visited. Members of this church were never to visit other churches unless they were out of town or attending something special with a family member at another church. If a member of my former church visited other churches because they wanted to and it was found out then they were looked upon as traitors. We were taught to look down on other churches because they were not as enlightened as our church and were not as excellent. The pastor professed to know all the truth and, according to him, was always right. Many times he pompously declared from the pulpit that he could wait till we all get to heaven so that Jesus could inform us all that he (the pastor) was right.

This church never joined itself with any other church in our area or city to help anyone or reach out to the community. At one time we had a luncheon with a speaker who was a self made multi-millionaire. The purpose of this guest speaker coming in was to help raise the vision of the people in the church so that they would all become more prosperous and hopefully rich. When a pastor of a neighboring church was invited to the luncheon by a church member the pastor of my former church wanted to know why this neighboring pastor had been invited because we were trying to build our church, not theirs. The pastor never had one good or encouraging thing to say about any other church in our city, on the contrary he constantly criticized other churches and pastors from the pulpit.

Recently, I was totally surprised at something that happened in the church that I have been attending lately. The regular drummer had to be out of town on Sunday morning. The drummer who usually fills in for him had to work. Sunday morning, as I sat in my seat, I recognized someone in the sanctuary that I know personally and I know is a regular attender of a church other than this church. As it became time for the service to begin this individual sat down behind the drums. He proceeded to play with the band and did an excellent job. When the music was over, he quietly made his way to the back of the church toward the door. The pastor stood up and recognized him for being such a blessing by filling in and playing the drums for us, thanked him for his willingness to help and wished him on his way as he went to attend the service at the church where he chooses to worship.

Who would have ever thought that this could happen! Members of the body of Christ, from two different churches in the same area, working together and helping each other with no jealousy, criticism or envy. What a blessing it was! Christians from different churches working together to further the cause of Christ and not their own importance or agenda.

The spirit of separation and division is not of God. He desires His children to work together and help each other. Not separate themselves from other Christians because they don't go to the same church.

A pastor who seeks to divide his congregation from the rest of the body of Christ is operating out of a spirit of fear, pride and selfishness. Fear is the opposite of faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. God hates pride. A true christian is not selfish.

If you are in a church where the pastor promotes division from the members of the body of Christ who do not attend your church and not unity he is in direct contradiction of the Bible. Find a church where the pastor operates out of a heart of love and not selfishness. Find a true pastor after God's own heart, and quit listening to one who pulls you away from the heart of your Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Drunkard and the Glutton

In the King James version of the Bible the term "drunkard" is used 5 times. Twice it is used in the same sentence with the term "glutton" and once it is used in the same sentence with the term "fornicator". In all 3 of these sentences the glutton and the fornicator are equal to the drunkard.

In these verses that I mentioned, Deut. 21:20, Prov. 23:21, and1Cor. 5:11, the drunkard, the glutton and the fornicator are pointed to as someone who will come to poverty, should be stoned to death as a rebellious son, or someone believers should not even eat with.

In reading these verses the twisted mentality of the leadership of my former church appalls me.

I remember at one time when I was a youth worker a young adult was disqualified from participating in the youth band because he had been seen in a restaurant ordering an alcoholic drink with his dinner. He was not drunk nor was he a drunkard. Just because he was seen ordering and drinking this one drink he was instantly "unfit" for the "excellence" we put forth in ministry. Yet people who were extremely fat to the point of being obese were brought in to minister from the pulpit. There were extremely fat people who led praise and worship and who were youth workers and children's church workers. A man involved in fornication was left on staff until he left town and was still endorsed by the pastor of the church to minister to youth at a youth camp.

How can the leadership of a church pull out the sections of the Bible he wants to use and completely ignore the rest. He can do it when his church is a business to him. He can do it when he is not a pastor after God's own heart. He can do it when his parishioners represent dollar signs instead of the body of Christ. He can do it when he and his family are his number one priority and not the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In this instance a person who loved God was denied the use of his gift to serve God because the church leadership was more interested in an image that what was right. The Bible does not say there is anything wrong with a drink, it says it is wrong to be drunk.

In the other instance a man who was known to be involved in sexual sin was left in a ministry position and on staff. The Bible says not to even eat with a fornicator, much less leave him in ministry.

I'm not saying that I would never eat with a glutton, drunkard or a fornicator. I know that we live under grace and there is forgiveness and restoration for the repentant. The fact is that the qualification to be involved in any ministry area at my former church was that you support the pastor and his family one hundred percent. Right or wrong, whether you agreed with them or not, your total support was mandatory or they found a way to keep you in the rejected group till they found a way to get rid of you.

Beware of the red flags. Don't make excused for a pastor who is ignoring and twisting things in the Bible because he is a good speaker, supposedly "anointed", puts on a good image, or seems to have it all. If it seems too good to be true...... IT IS.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Never Leave Your Man of God

In my former church we were constantly taught that one of the most important things about our christian walk was to have a "man of God" to sit under and to "speak into our lives". Now it was very important also NEVER to LEAVE your "man of God" if you wanted to experience God's richest and best in your life.

In the New Testament, the phrase "man of God" is only mentioned two times. In second Timothy 3:16 the term "man of God" is referring to believers being equipped for every good work. In first Timothy 6:11, Paul is telling Timothy that as a man of God he should flee the things of the world and pursue righteousness.

Not one place in the New Testament is the church taught that they are to focus on ONE "man of God" to lead and guide them and speak into their lives. We have the Holy Spirit on the inside of us to lead and guide us into all truth. We are Jesus' sheep and we follow His voice.

This man made doctrine on "needing" a "man of God" to pledge our allegiance and support and financial gifts to has been put together by men who call themselves pastors and prophets in order to gain financial wealth, material gifts and keep their supporters under their control.

The body of Christ needs to wake up and realize who they are in Christ and realize that God speaks to each and every on of us. He is perfectly capable of leading, guiding, protecting and blessing us without a go-between to tell us what He wants or is saying.

We need to get out from under the control of these manipulative, greedy, materialistic imitations of pastors and find some true pastors with a pastor's heart to hook up with and DO the work of the ministry.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Are You a Tither???

I remember in my former church a common question asked by the pastor, his family, and his staff was, "Are you a tither?" and " Are they tithers?"

If someone asked for prayer for something, someone to agree with them, healing, a situation, or any need they may have the pastor or his family members first response was "are they tithers???" They also claimed what they wanted from God and demanded it because they were "tithers"

At times when invitations were received by staff or the pastor's family members they wanted to know if the one the invitation was from was a tither before they made a decision to go or send a gift.

Many times when people wanted an appointment for counseling, I was instructed to pull up their tithing record so a decision could be made if they could see the pastor or anyone for that matter.

The staff was REQUIRED to tithe in order to be employed by the church. If the pastor or one of his family members became suspicious that a staff member had fallen behind in their tithing, I was instructed to pull up their tithing record and the staff member who had fallen behind was called in for a correction conference.

In reading the new testament and the eye witness accounts of those who came in contact with Jesus I am amazed that he never once asked anyone if they were a tither!!! He only asked them if they believed! Multitudes came to Him.

Some asked Him to bless them.... tithing was not required for Him to give His blessing.
Some asked Him to heal them.... tithing was not required for Him to heal them.
Some asked Him to COME with them and heal or minister to their family members... He ALWAYS went willingly and tithing was not required for Him to go with them.

My former church wanted the congregation to believe that tithing was a requirement in order for you to receive anything from God. Maybe this was because of the luxurious lifestyle they were living as a result of their enormous salaries and the personal things that were paid by the church for them.

Sadly they neglected to put the emphasis on the BLOOD OF JESUS that purchased everything we will ever need from God. Tithing is not required for us to receive everything that God has for us but the blood is what was required.

We should give to God and His work out of a heart of love, not because it is extorted with fear and promises of riches and material things. A person who gives out of a willing heart and giving nature gives way beyond the tithe anyway.

You can't buy God with your tithes. The bible doesn't say that we overcome anything from tithing. It does say ... that we overcome by the "blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony".

That is the blood and believing...... not tithing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Flesh Church

I remember sitting in my former church before I knew the truth about all the sin going on for years behind the scenes and wondering why our church never grew. I also wondered why many wonderful ministers that had come in the past never came anymore. I wondered why members and staff members that left on what seemed to be good terms with a wonderful public sendoff never returned to visit even when they were in town. These things really bothered me. Of course the "pastor" always put a spin on how the church was growing and thriving, yet it never manifested. The numbers went down instead of up. The "pastor" would criticize the church down the street that was growing by leaps and bounds. He criticized the things that they implimented such as free coffe, free CDs and other things to be a blessing to their people. At that time my former church was charging 1.00 for an 8oz. cup of coffee and 7.00 for a CD that cost about .50 to make. He called it the "seeker friendly church". Then one of the few traveling "ministers" that still came to the church on a regular basis came up with the name "flesh church". This same "minister" called precious Christians that had left the church "bowel movements". Now these Christians didn't backslide or fall into sin, they just wanted to attend another church. Probably a church that focused on Jesus and people instead of pride in "our faith" and using it to get money and material things.

Now this "flesh church" actually had over 19,000 people come to hear the gospel on Easter weekend. My former church didn't have 600. My former church's vision was for members who PROSPERED and had material things. My former "pastor" said that we were God's garden and if we didn't LOOK GOOD that it reflected badly on God. One important thing on the "flesh church's" vision was to start a medical clinic to help the community and be a blessing to those who could not afford medical care.

I recently had an opportunity to experience the effect of the flesh church's impact on the community when I accompanied someone to their new Medical Clinic. A visit to this clinic is 30.00 if you do not have insurance and 0.00 if you do. They do their best to prescribe medications that are on the Wal Mart 4.00 list of medications. The staff is friendly and caring. They have quality doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and office staff. The facility is immaculate and remodeled. Everything I experienced was excellent.

The pastor of this "flesh church" doesn't stand in the pulpit and boast about his airplane, fancy suits, his anointing, his great gift of teaching or his BMW faith. He is too busy doing the work of the ministry, carrying out the great commission and doing something to help and impact the community. When you go to the clinic, the doctor doesn't even ask you if you are a tither before he prays for you.

It is a good thing that there are "flesh churches" that are doing something for Jesus. My former church is too busy trying to keep the former executive pastor from spending 10 to 20 years behind bars for the impact he had on the community.

Monday, June 15, 2009

That's Not Grace!!!

The other morning I heard a message by a wonderful pastor that I love and respect very much. The message was about Elijah and some of the miracles that God had performed in his life. As I was listening to the message, I began to think back on many of the messages that I heard at my former church. Many of these messages were about what I had to do in order to get God to move on my behalf. I was instructed to "Sow a seed if I had a need". We were always hearing about what we were supposed to do in order to move the hand of God. If we needed a financial miracle, we were to sow a huge financial gift into the church, if we needed a personal miracle in our lives we were to serve and serve in the church, and things like that.

In the course of this message, the pastor brought out the fact that God performed miracles and provided supernaturally for Elijah even when he was not moving in faith. God didn't look at Elijah and say, "Well if he does this then I will provide a way for him", that God moving on our behalf is not contingent on whether we tithe or not or whether we "do" something to earn it or qualify for it. That's not grace!!!

The dictionary defines grace as the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. This grace comes to us not because of any thing we can do but because of the blood that Jesus freely and willingly chose to shed for us when He chose to make the ultimate sacrifice and gave Himself for us. Grace does not mean.... "if you do this, then I will do this"!

Since the time that I left my former church, God has done so many awesome miracles in my life and blessed me so abundantly it is almost beyond belief. Yet I did not do one thing to merit or deserve any of these miracles or blessings. I actually made it a point NOT to do anything that I had been taught I was supposed to do in order to be blessed by God because I needed to remember the God that I knew before I allowed myself to be manipulated into trying to be some kind of "faith giant" in order to receive from God. He does it because I am His, because He loves me, because I know Him and because my savior, Jesus, purchased it for me with His blood. I asked Him to forgive me for ever belittling what was purchased by His blood by thinking that I could get something from God because of what "I" could do. Thank goodness I realized that I don't have to perform my way through life, I can just look to Him and live a life more wonderful than I could have ever hoped or imagined.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dentist Drama

Today I was remembering an incident at my former church where a staff member gave a testimony that occurred at the dentist office. This person went to the dentist and was so consumed with the realization that they had a "pastor" that they began to cry in the dentist chair. The testimony centered around how awesome the pastor was and how they were moved to uncontrollable tears at this realization. This person cried so much that the dentist ( unable to do any work on this person at this time) had to wait till the deluge of tears subsided before they could continue the appointment. All this over the realization that they had a pastor?????? I found myself wondering if they had ever had to delay a dentist appointment due to tears over the realization that they had a SAVIOR?????

I began to think back on how twisted the priorities at mfc were. There were many services that centered completely around the pastor! Not Jesus! The pastor's, achievements, anointing, family problems, successes, desires and agenda. There were many services that people walked away having never heard anything about Jesus, just about the pastor.

Many church members now sport bumper stickers on their cars supporting the pastor. Not one of these has a bumper sticker supporting JESUS! WHEN DID THE PASTOR BECOME MORE IMPORTANT THAN JESUS?

It sickens me to realize that I was drawn into such a farce and allowed myself to be so monumentally deceived! I have my focus on track now and Jesus and righteousness are number one! If you are in a church that "promotes and pushes the pastor" get out. The church should be promoting one thing, JESUS!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Does It Ever End

In the past seventeen months, since I have realized the truth about what had gone on, was going on, and is going on in my former church, my life has changed enormously. Once all the control, lies, deception, sin, greed, corruption, and crime began to surface and continued to surface, a very rude awakening began for me. Not only did I realize a pastor and his family that I had served faithfully and sacrificially, were nothing of who they portrayed themselves to be, I discovered that they would stop at nothing to perpetuate their family ministry no matter what level of degradation and sin they had fallen to and been involved in. Along with this stark realization came the earth shattering revelation of the vast number of loved ones in my life that had been used, abused, violated and scarred for life as a result of this ministry.

Since this realization of the atrocities that have gone on over the years has come to light, there is not one day that goes by that I do not think about all the loved ones that have been affected and the horror that they live with on a daily basis. I keep thinking that one day I will wake up and this will not fill my thoughts. I will admit that it has gotten better, however, that day has not arrived. Even now that the ones who committed the crimes have been arrested and it looks like justice will be served, for the victims, it will never end.

Since making the choice to stand up on the side of righteousness and refused to be controlled and ultimately leaving my former church, God has shown Himself stronger to me than He ever has in my entire walk with Him. He has brought me through day after day and blessed me so abundantly above and beyond anything I could have ever hoped or imagined in so many ways. Even in the midst of all the twisted and deranged things I have been told and all the questions I still have I have about how people like this can be allowed to commit such atrocities and continue to do so even after being exposed, I have made a conscious decision to move on with my life and focus on the wonderful blessings that God has put in my life and trust Him to somehow help me to one day live free of the constant thoughts of the nightmare I have seen my loved ones live through.

On that note, I want to say that there are wonderful churches out there that are truly consumed with a desire to actually minister the love of God in action to a lost and hurting world. There are churches where the pastor is interested in all people, not just the tithers. There are churches whose members don't sever lifelong friendships because someone left the church. There are churches that address and handle correctly rampant sin in the church and church leadership instead of trying to cover it up, excuse it and lie about it.

I am currently attending a church that the main goal is to love people and minister the love of God to them regardless of where they go to church or if they tithe or not. The desire of this church is to minister to the community as a whole, and to love people with the true love of God. I thank Him for this opportunity to do something for the kingdom of God after so many wasted years in a church that did more harm to people than anything else.

No, I don't know that it will ever end but I do know that there is hope, purpose, joy and happiness after the nightmare of a controlling, manipulative and abusive church. Thanks to the love, grace and mercy of an ever loving and faithful God!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Attention to Evidence

In my former church there were some things in the New Testament, that were basic teachings to the new church, that were completely ignored the last couple of years that I attended there. One thing that really bothered me was that no one could get baptized at the church. It was just not important to the pastor. OH, he may say it was or is important to him, but what is important to you, you give attention to. Let me tell you, there was never a service that the TITHE wasn't paid attention to. But baptism was not mentioned in over two years.

In the New Testament, everyone that got saved got baptized. Jesus was baptized. Not only could you not get baptized at this church, if you were someone who was unschooled in the Bible or had no knowledge of Christianity, you could have attended this church for over a year and you would have no knowledge that there was even such a thing or what it was, much less why it is done or what it symbolizes.

In looking back to when there were baptism services at this church I remember that there were very few people baptised at the last couple of services.

I realized that without baptism services there is no evidence of how few people are being saved and making a real commitment to Christ at the church. I remember it got to where there were so few people being saved in the services and of the few that came forward hardly any ever came back more than once or twice. I realized that the absence of baptism services kept the evidence of this from being apparent to the congregation.

When the service closes and the pastor gives an invitation it is usually for more than just to get saved and give your life to Christ. There may be several other invitations, healing, recommitting your life, being filled with the Holy Spirit and other things. In this way, people in the congregation just see people come forward and then when they are told that so many people are being saved they just believe it and with the absence of baptism services there is no evidence of the truth.

There was also no evidence of the poor being helped by the church, widows being helped by the church, people being taught to live holy lives, or peoples' individual needs being ministered to.
A healthy, New Testament church should have EVIDENCE of these things.

James 2:14-18 (Amplified Bible)
14What is the use (profit), my brethren, for anyone to profess to have faith if he has no [good] works [to show for it]? Can [such] faith save [his soul]?
15If a brother or sister is poorly clad and lacks food for each day,
16And one of you says to him, Good-bye! Keep [yourself] warm and well fed, without giving him the necessities for the body, what good does that do?
17So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).
18But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith.

If you are attending a church and your pastor claims to teach FAITH, claims to live by faith, hear from God by faith, claims he is the one to teach you faith, then look at his WORKS. Not his works of standing in a pulpit and claiming to know it all but his works in the community, his works among the congregation, his works SHOWING his faith. There should be EVIDENCE. Evidence of his faith by his works, his actions, evidence of what the church is doing and accomplishing.

Pay attention to the evidence. If you can't see any, then you are being deceived. You need to find a church that it is evident what they are and what fruit they are producing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Its All About The Word

In my former church, we were always told, "It's all about the word", meaning it was all about the Word of God. We were taught that...

-we were not supposed to listen to peoples problems.... when they began talking about them we were to just "tell them the word"

-attacks came against the church because that church was the only church that preached the word the right way and the devil was trying to destroy it

-we were to speak the word all the time and not give voice to illnesses, situations, or anything that did not line up with the word

-the preaching of the word, the way the pastor interpreted it was more important than anything.. even people

In reading the gospels, and looking at the ministry of Jesus, it is obvious that the most important thing to Him was people. The Bible says that Jesus was the Word of God in the flesh. Yet, He did not teach and preach that He was the most important thing. He was not here to promote Himself, He promoted doing the will of the Father and loving PEOPLE.

Yes the word is important. It is alive and powerful. It is the good news to all men. It is the answer to every problem. It is the standard we live by. It is truth. But the most important thing to God is people.

Jesus spent His life here on earth serving people, healing them, showing them love, helping them, putting them first until He made the choice to die for them. Yet we have pastors now that won't give the people in their congregation the time of day. Won't attend their funerals. Have no interest in helping them with their problems, answering their questions, or listening to them when they need someone to talk to. Need to see their tithing record before deciding whether to attend something they have received an invitation to.

Preachers today need to wake up. It is not all about the preaching of the word with whatever twist or "new revelation" they want to push! It is about taking the gospel of Jesus to a lost and hurting world. Feeding the hungry, giving to the poor, ministering to the needy and the hurting, and genuinely loving people.Its about using the word to do this, not using it to get what they want. It is about using the word to teach others how to live, how to love,how to serve and how to live holy lives. It is not there for people in the ministry to use it to excuse whatever sins they choose to engage in and then keep them in ministry positions no matter how atrocious their lifestyles are.

In careful consideration I have comet to the conclusion that it is not ALL about the Word, it is ALL about people.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Eli Generation

In mfc we were taught that the anointing to be in ministry ran in the family. In other words if a man was a pastor, his children were automatically anointed to be in the ministry. In mfc this seemed to be the case whether you had had any formal bible training or not. It also seemed to be the case regardless of how much sin was in your life. Of course you didn't have to be born into the family to qualify for this anointing, you could marry into it.

In this day and time I have seen too many similarities in the priesthood era of the Old Testament and the pastor and brother era of the New Testament. (Matthew 23:8)

I have realized that there is no place in the New Testament that supports this view. A person in ministry must have a true, God given desire in their heart to be a servant and to be a servant at all times. That is the example set forth in the New Testament for people in ministry. I also read that the Paul wanted the people who helped in ministry to be "of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom" (Acts 6:3)

If someone is full of the Holy Ghost, then the characteristics of the nature and person of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost are evident in their constant, daily lives and actions. Someone full of the Holy Ghost doesn't have to tell people that he is ..... it is evident. If someone is honest, they don't lie and cover up sin, if someone is full of wisdom they don't twist the Bible to fit their agenda. NOT the case with the leadership in mfc.

In the Old Testament, if you were a priest, it was because you were born into the tribe of the Levites. All the Levites were priests. This was s substandard system compared to the New Testament system where we are all equal as brothers and can all have a one on one relationship with God the father, made possible by the cross, as the system of the law was to grace.

In reading the story of Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas this is evident. Eli's sons didn't feel a god given desire to be priests.... they were just born into it. (1 Samuel 2) The Bible says that they were evil men.

It seems today that there are many men in positions of ministry that were just born into it, or married into it who have no real desire to be a servant of the Lord or truly minister to His people. There are also those who are just in ministry because of what they can have or get by being in ministry.

In looking for a place to be an asset to the kingdom of God, we should look for a church where the pastor and his family have the attributes of Paul and Stephen of the New Testament and not the attributes is Eli and his sons of the Old Testament. Lets leave the Eli generation and move on to the generation of the servant.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is Your Church Promoting Jesus or the Pastor

I have noticed in the last few years how in many charismatic churches the pastors, guest speakers and "prophets" spend more time promoting themselves than they do promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of His ministry.

I heard so many sermons in my former church by the pastor tooting his own horn that it was almost an inconsistency for part of the sermon or the majority of the sermon to be about anything other than him. These messages entailed his achievements, his great anointing, his great wisdom, how he was always right, how he was to be respected, how he was to be honored, how the world needed to hear what HE had to say and nothing or no one else compared to HIS interpretation and delivery of the Bible, how we needed HIM to speak into our lives, and much more.

When guest speakers came in, whether they were billed as pastors, evangelists or "prophets", they preached on pretty much the same things. The only difference was they had to toot their own horn too. They also had to make it clear, along with the respect, honor, and devotion that was due to the home pastor, what was due to them.

Now of course, all these men managed to find scriptures to interpret for us to somehow substantiate all of this propaganda they were spewing forth. They also managed to spend enormous amounts of time convincing the congregation to GIVE, GIVE, GIVE.

In retrospect, I began to realize how the sermons I had heard for several years actually had nothing to do with the message Jesus taught or the messages Paul taught.

I also began to realize how warped the tone of the congregation was when congregants that never displayed stickers proclaiming Jesus on their vehicles began sporting stickers promoting the pastor on their cars.

Of all the sermons I have heard since leaving my former church, no matter what church I heard them at, NONE was about the pastor of that church. Not one man promoted himself or even mentioned his accomplishments or attributes. Of all the sermons I have heard they have been about Jesus, His love, His grace, the work of His ministry. No one has tried to manipulate $$$ out of congregants pockets.

Once, as I was helping clean up after a service and I heard a congregant say, "Wow! Now that's something I haven't seen in a long time, a pastor who will take out the garbage!!" As I heard this I thought, you know, neither have I.

I so deeply regret all the years that I spent buying into this false "doctrine of the pastor" and convincing myself that I was doing something for God when I could see that there was no work of the ministry of Jesus in the church.

I encourage you, find a church where the pastor is more interested in Jesus than he is in himself. Find a church where the pastor would be appalled of someone put a sticker promoting him on their car. Find a church where the pastor is interested in being a servant and not a diva. Riding to visit those in the hospital and not riding in a limo. Flying to the side of those in need and not flying in his own plane. More interested in the size of the peoples' need than the size of their wallet. Believes you are worthy of his time because you are a person Jesus died for not because you are a regular tither. A pastor who, in times of trouble, asks you,"What can I do to help?" and not "Are you a tither?"

It is time for all of us to examine what we associate ourselves with and what and who we support. It is not acceptable to stick our heads in the sand and say, "Well, God called me here and there is nothing I can do about how things are handled." That is nothing but an excuse not to spend the time and effort or have the backbone to be a good steward.

We have been called to be good stewards of what God has given us. That includes our time, our money, our endorsement and our service. Let's make sure that we are involved in things that will stand the test of fire as gold and not burn up as wood, hay and stubble.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Welcome to the New World

In the past several months I have felt as if I have been on a journey. A journey searching for a new church home. After leaving a very controlling church, I wondered if I would ever find a church that I felt that was mine and a pastor that I could trust. I wondered if I would ever find a place where I felt the pastor was actually a shepherd. A pastor that did not view himself above his flock. A church whose main purpose was to be there to serve the community and help those in need of help. I truly believe that I have found my new church home.

Although I know that no church is or can be perfect, I am so looking forward to serving in this church and having a chance to affect lives for the kingdom of God. I have already seen many wonderful and drastic differences in my new church and my former controlling church and I feel I will continue to see more.

Here are some of the differences that I have seen so far and some I trust I will be seeing as time goes on and the church grows.

A pastor who is the leader of a democratic church and not a dictator.

A pastor who views himself as a servant and not someone to be served.

A pastor who expects me to work with him and not for him.

A church who sees the lost, the poor and the needy as good ground not as undesirables.

A church who measures the worth of the people by the fact that Jesus died of them and not by the size of their wallet.

A pastor who desires to preach and live the Word of God not to twist it to benefit his own personal agenda.

I feel as if I have been on a long journey across a vast ocean. An ocean of searching for a real church, searching for a man with character as a pastor, and searching for a church with a vision to be the hands and feet of Jesus. An ocean of wondering if I will ever feel at home in a church again, wondering if I could find a place where I can fully enter into praise and worship again, wondering if there will ever be a pastor that lives what he preaches, and a pastor that I can trust.

I feel as if I have set foot on the land of the new world. A world where I am excited about serving God alongside others. A world that will make a difference in peoples' lives for the kingdom of God. A world that views souls for the kingdom of God as profit and not dollars racked up and raked in for the pastor and his family as profit. A world where the pastor's vision is to help people in need pay their bills and not to pay for his own personal plane.

I humbly fall to my knees and thank God for bringing me to this new world, for rekindling the flame of love for Him in my heart and for allowing me the chance to serve in a place that will certainly make a difference in this community for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Matter of Love

I heard a message today on love. The gospel is about love. It is about actually loving others. All others. In my former church I heard a lot of messages on "walking in love" but not on actually loving them. After hearing this message today and realizing how different it was from the messages on "walking in love" that I have heard I began to realize some things.

In my former church I did hear many messages on "walking in love" but I never saw love in action. "Walking in love" was the way you made yourself treat another person no matter how you felt about them. It was like it really didn't matter how you really felt about them, as long as you were able to make yourself "walk in love" towards them no matter how you really wanted to act then you were obeying God. NOT!!! Jesus told us to LOVE others, our enemies, those who persecuted us, basically EVERYONE.

As I read the gospels, I can see that Jesus didn't have to "walk in love" toward people because HE actually LOVED them. It spilled out all over them. There was no denying it. He considered them more important than Himself. His love for them constantly showed in everything that He did. That is what we are supposed to do, not just act like we love them.

Did Jesus ignore those who would not be considered "good ground"? No... He loved them. Did He call those that did not understand idiots or stupid? No... He was patient and loving to them. When people came to Him in need of help or counsel did He ask them if they were "tithers" and refuse them if they weren't? No... He ministered to them. Did He put those in their place if they didn't recognize His "anointing" or his proper title? NO... He ate dinner with them. Did He pray destruction over those who were beating Him and nailing Him to the cross? No.... He asked God to forgive them for they didn't know what they were doing.

If we really love someone we act like it. It does not have to constantly be a conscious choice to act like it. It shows in everything we do. The challenge to us is not to make ourselves walk in love toward others, the challenge is to love them.

Does love mean we ignore sin? No. Does love mean we refuse to expose and deal with it? No. Does love mean that our actions and choices don't have consequences? No. Does love mean that we blindly follow a leader because they say they are anointed and they hear from God? No.

Yet love, true love, the God kind of love shows through. It shows through in the good times and the bad. It shows in the pleasant situations and the unpleasant ones. I am tired of those who say they love but it never shows. You can say you love others all day but if it is not evident by actions it is not true.

Let's be the kind of people that there is no question of whether we love others or not. All others. Let's be the kind of people that it is evident that we love others because it can be seen in all we do.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Ministry of Love

In the last year that I was at the controlling church where I had dedicated over a decade of my life serving because I truly believed that I was doing a work for God, I began to come to some harsh realizations. It was truly a sad time in my life when I realized that I had spent the majority of all that time furthering a man instead of the gospel and the kingdom of God.

What glory does it bring to God for you to...... think you go to the best church and talk about it like it is the only place that is offering "the true Word of God"; bring someone to church who needs help and ministry and all they hear about is how to get rich and if you are not rich then you are not living God's best; the pastor stands in the pulpit and promotes himself and his wonderful spiritual insight; the pastor continually criticizes people and other churches from the pulpit; the gospel is presented in the light of what God can do for you materially and situationaly and never what you should be doing in service to God; serving the pastor and his family is taught as serving God; people come to the church for financial help and are turned away empty handed because spending money on excellence and image is much more important than helping the poor and needy; the poor and needy are not good ground to sow into the rich and successful are; prayer groups pray destruction and not blessings on their enemies..... the list could go on and on.

The gross absence of the ministry of love in my old church suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. The pastor loved to talk about "walking in love", especially when he wanted the congregants to walk in love toward him and his family regardless of how haughty and arrogant they were. No matter what went on at the church or how wrong it was no one was ever to voice it, ask about it, or question it.

How is it walking in love when a pastor refuses to council anyone who is not a regular tither? How is it walking in love to belittle and criticize from the pulpit, ignore the poor and needy, never have any outreach to the community, and preach 90% of your sermons on money and getting what you can get from God. How can a pastor of love encourage you to shun and excommunicate those in your life that have left HIS church?

Love is so simple, you just do it. You love everyone no matter what they are, what they have done, where they do or don't go to church, no matter how they have treated you, no matter what they have said about you, or if they have tried to destroy you. Love may be simple, yet love has a requirement. We have to crucify our flesh. We have to put others before ourselves. We have to want to show them love more than we want to have our way.

If you are attending a church whose pastor wants the spotlight and wants to be walked in love toward instead of spotlighting everyone other than himself and showing sacrificial love on a regular basis..... find another church. Don't overlook it like I did and years down the road wish you had been a part of a ministry that actually touched peoples lives in a real way instead of one that promotes a particular man and his "wonderful" delivery of the word of God.

It is the love of God in VISIBLE OPERATION that draws men to Him. Not money, things and sermons that tickle the ears.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Faith in God or "MY FAITH"

In these last days the "faith message" has become a big movement all over the United States. There are many churches known as Word of Faith churches. A man named Kenneth Hagin started a bible college because he said that Jesus appeared to him and told him to go and teach His people faith. In the last year I have noticed some things that don't seem to be right about the "faith message" that I have heard. The message of faith has become such a doctrine of itself to certain groups it is like an idol or like a god. In Word of Faith circles, faith teaching grossly outweighs other foundational teachings of the New Testament such as salvation, baptism, obedience, holiness, humility, and love. Faith has become a "how to get what you want" doctrine and a "how not to have to put up with anything you don't want" doctrine.

The majority of faith teaching is centered around material things.

Have faith in God. In Matthew 11 Jesus spoke to a fig tree and told it to wither and die. A couple of days later when they passed the tree it was dead and the disciples were amazed. This would have been a perfect opportunity for Jesus to launch out into a great and profound teaching on the ABC's of faith, but yet He didn't. All He said was "Have faith in God" How could it be that He neglected to take this opportunity to tell us that we could have anything we ever wanted and live like King Solomon if we would develop, exercise and use out faith.?

In our former church we were constantly challenged to develop and exercise out faith. We were told to never be satisfied with where we were or what we had. If we were, then we were stagnant. We were to constantly be using our faith to believe for more and better things and then when they came to us we were told not to stop there, but to believe for bigger, and better and more things. We were also taught to use our faith to change our circumstances to get what we wanted. I can't find anywhere in the Bible where these things were taught.

We were also taught that we were to rely on our faith. If we didn't receive what we wanted or needed it was because of our faith. Our pastor was also always giving us examples of what all he could get with HIS faith. He had money because of HIS faith, expensive cars because of HIS faith, went on great vacations because of HIS faith, didn't have to go by the rules because of HIS faith, received VIP treatment because of HIS faith, he would never have a child die or be terminally ill because of HIS faith, he could speed without getting tickets because of HIS faith, he could shop at the most expensive stores because of HIS faith while some were told that they had not bothered to develop their faith or that they only had Ford faith. This led into faith comparisons and obvious pride.

Why didn't Jesus teach this? Maybe because this is not what faith is all about. Maybe we are supposed to be using our faith for the harvest, for the lost, to help the poor, to feed the hungry, to be able to love the unlovable, to turn the other cheek, to esteem others above ourselves, to crucify our flesh and to know Him more.

In all the time I have been a christian, I have never seen faith in action like I read about in the New Testament church. So why didn't they use their faith to get rich? Why didn't they use their faith for houses and lands? Why didn't they use it to avoid getting eaten by lions, dismembered, burned alive and crucified? They did use their faith to spread the true gospel that Jesus died for their sins and that people needed to REPENT and turn to Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. In all my years at my former church I don't recall hearing much on repentance. I NEVER heard a message on crucifying the flesh.

In 2Timothy 4 the Bible talks about people with itching ears who will follow teaching that appeals to their fancy. The Message translation calls it "spiritual junk food" and the amplified translation refers to it as "what is pleasing and gratifying" and "teachers chosen to fulfill their own liking". The faith message certainly fits these two descriptions.

Galatians tells us not to follow "any other gospel". I don't want to follow a gospel that encourages me to be focused on me, MY faith and what material things I can get with it. I believe I will stick with the gospel in the Bible.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Walking Dead

I know of a church not unlike the church that I formerly attended. Many of the same guests visited both the churches. It seems like WOF preachers all have about the same circuit. One particular minister fancies himself a self proclaimed prophet and seer of great esteem in his own eyes. While in a service at this other church he boldly prophesied that members who had left that church due to heinous acts committed and mishandling of those situations would drop dead before the end of the year if they did not repent. Yet there is no repentance necessary for standing for righteousness and holiness. I personally have a friend who is one of this group. I will call them the walking dead. Many have chosen to stand up for what is right and discontinue blindly following the blind. Here on January 1 not one person who left has dropped dead. Could it be possible that this self proclaimed prophet was WRONG??????? I thought if a prophecy didn't come true that meant FALSE PROPHET....... What do you think?????

Lucky for them that false prophets aren't stoned these days.......kind of like sin doesn't matter.