Separating TRUTH from FICTION.

What the Bible Really Says!

Who is JESUS?

Learning to Live like HIM.

Did CALVARY Matter?

Where would we be if He was as motivated as we are?

What does Worship Mean?

Love without limits.

How Do WE Treat Others?

For God so loved the world that He gave.. what do we do?

Dec 2, 2008

I Still Believe...

There are things about our lives that we like to keep secret.

We think if our secrets are allowed to be open and viewable, then it will diminish who we are, and perhaps those that we love or hold close to us won't want to be around us anymore. I can relate to those feelings and I understand how hurt is not individual. When we hurt, those around us feel our pain. I know it is easy to say that, but today I saw it.

I saw it in the eyes of my doctor. I saw it in the trembling of my mother. They felt my pain.

While I am not ready to divulge all that is going on in my life and let my life be an open book, those who know me personally, and those who are close to me know what I am talking about.

I had a visit with my doctor today. I have many doctors over the past couple of years, but this is the one I trust most. He has known me when I have been sick and when I have been well. Good times and bad. I trust his judgement, and when I have been afraid he has put my mind at ease. Today, he didn't.

They ran more tests today, and while I do not know all the results, the conclusion seems to be that my health has taken a negative turn. There are circumstances beyond my control in my personal life, and in my health that only God can change. I know some of the diagnoses they have given me, but something in my blood is messed up to the point that I make tiny blood cells that do not reproduce. They are not sure if it is somehow hereditary, or if it is a new symptom, but it did not appear in my body until September of this year. So, to the doctors, and to me, it is a new thing.

My doctor told me he has known for a while I have health issues, but this has him confused. Somehow, despite the multitudes of medications I am on, my body is doing whatever it wants to. He said I shouldn't lose hope, but today is the first day in this long journey that it really hit me.

I knew this morning before the appointment it was going to be bad news. I had a terrible time sleeping last night, and finally around four o'clock AM, I laid myself across my couch and began to pray. I figured if I can't sleep, maybe God was trying to talk to me. I felt like God told me that time is short. Now I realize given my health, maybe he was just talking to me personally. I played the why me game for a while, and let myself weep for awhile. I really don't mind the trial but I would like to know why. I asked God but didn't feel an answer.

See, I was a preacher's kid, evangelist, worship leader, minister, assistant to the pastor, among other things during my life. I have seen miracles, preached miracles, and believed. I have been blessed by God to not only see the results of his anointing but also to participate in it. I have never really gone out into the world; I haven't drank, done any kind of drug that didn't come from a doctor, or lived a lifestyle that would be considered immoral. Sure, like anyone I have my faults and failings, but I have tried to live Godly in spite of circumstances. I have seen those I care about walk away from me when they didn't have an answer. I have seen family members backslide because they cannot understand why this has happened to me.

I have been in this battle for going on fourteen years, and I do not like to talk about it. I have overcome a lot that many will never understand, or even hear about. I have struggled, but I am still here. I haven't given up or been defeated. There have been times where God has blessed me, and times where I saw the things I hold most dear be snatched away, and yet, hope has not left me.

But today, my hope faltered. Today, I realized my vulnerability.

I know that God knows best, and I know He has a plan. I have been up and down about the severity of my dilemas and I have seen those I trust lost hope in me. I have struggled with God for answers on many situations that affect the ministry, the church, and our lives, and have felt no direction on how to proceed. Yet, I believe.

You see, I have been given a gift. At the moment, this gift feels like it will tear apart the very fabric of my life and the lives of those who love me. I really do not know why, or how, or even if it will ever end about all the battles I am fighting. I do not have assurance that things will be ok, although many have tried to lift my spirits, or remind me of passages of scripture, or simply reach out. My confidence has been shaken, but I have not given up.

I know the devil has attacked me personally. I know he has attacked my church, my family, my health, my friends, and my ministry. I am not alone in the attacks though. Many who are reading this are going through similiar, if not worse, situations themselves, and feel like they cannot go on. I feel your pain. I really do, and the end of the pain is not in sight. It can, and probably will, get worse in the coming weeks, months, or years. I do not have the answers to your situation, but I still believe.

Most of us have heard the name John Paul Jones.

On September 23, 1779, John Paul Jones fought one of the bloodiest engagements in naval history. Jones struggled with the 44-gun Royal Navy frigate Serapis, and although his own vessel was burning and sinking, Jones would not accept the British demand for surrender, replying, “I have not yet begun to fight.” More than three hours later, Serapis surrendered and Jones took command.
According to some historians, Jones remained appealing as much for his actions as for his personality. The British thought of him as a ruthless marauding pirate. His attacks on British ships were often sudden and sometimes bloody. The vision of a swarthy troublemaker persisted even to the writings of Rudyard Kipling a century later.
In person, however, Jones was another man. Thomas Jefferson referred to him as ‘little Jones’ as he is thought to have stood just over five feet. Unlike other merchant seamen, he was well dressed, carried a sword, and conducted himself with practiced decorum.
He was never an easy man to get along with, intense about his honor and his duties but he was surprisingly sociable. He was a prolific writer, spoke some French, and above all, no one questioned his fortitude.
To some he was thought to be crazy; a rogue, and someone who fought against the establishment, but in history he is best known because he didn't give up.
Now, I understand that I am not John Paul Jones, I am not Job, Paul, Joseph, Daniel, and certainly not Jesus. I understand many have never even heard my name, and even those on here really do not know me, but the thing I am learning about myself is that I am stronger than I think I am.

I have lost a lot of 'things.' I have been hurt and rejected by those I trusted most, and I have been faced with difficulties that even I think I cannot overcome, but I am still here. I am certain that my battles are not over, and yet I am tired of wallowing in self-pity, tired of the mounting unbelief apparent around me, and tired of taking it.

I would like to adopt the words of John Paul Jones and say "I have not yet begun to fight", but I realize in my humanity I am frail and likely to be overcome. However, I realize the enemy can attack my body, my mind, and even my spirit, but the ultimate control of my life is not in his hands.

I have realized that when I am weak, then I AM strong. My infirmities, trials, tests are not only my battle but they belong to God. I am His Child, and even when I do not know the answer; even when I do not have hope; even when it looks like I am finished, He still holds me.

It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:11-13
Even if we cannot believe, he is still faithful. I still believe.

(previously published on ac ning site Dec 2, 200

Aug 26, 2008

Disposable People

I have been thinking about this topic for sometime now, and lately the relevance of the idea has become paramount in my own life, so I feel like I should say something.

All of us like to think we matter. Whether it is on our jobs, at church, or at least in our own families, we want to know we count. However, there is a perception that seems to evade many of us, that some people are, well, to put it in the easiest terms, not needed.

It seems society places such a huge stigma on certain people and if you do not fit the image that they expect of you, you simply are not needed; not even wanted sometimes. I know many of us at one time or other have felt like we were not wanted, but truth is we like to hide behind our fears and our insecurities and not even think we are the ones they are talking about.

Magazines, movies, television, and now even apostolics have placed us all in boxes based on our appearances, money, or other criteria. We look at people based on preconcieved ideas of who they must be based on our perceptions of what we have heard, or our own prejudices of certain features of life, and all of us are guilty of this in some fashion or other.
We like to think and rationalize our behavior by using other criteria to categorize people, but in the back of our mind we know what we really think. Let's be real here. "That person is too fat, too ugly, wears their hair funny, or doesn't wear the latest fashion, so they cannot possibly be as good me."

I laughed the other day when my son came home wearing clothes my mother would have thrown away when I was growing up because they looked like they came from the bottom of the rag bag. We wouldn't have been caught dead in clothes like that because we may have been considered poor, and we couldn't have that. My son, on the other hand was wearing clothes that were brand new. He bought them at the store that way, and paid entirely too much for them! But that is the style that is accepted now, and he wanted to fit in. I can relate to that, all of us want to fit in, but what about those people who do not fit the stereotypical criteria, do we exclude them just because they may not look, or act, like us?

Yes, we do. All of us are guilty of this on some level. Maybe we do not want to sit by the fat man on the bus because there is a chance he may smell, or near the mother with the baby on the airplane, because we want to have a good trip, and that doesn't include a crying baby next to us. Some of us would cross the street, rather than come close to someone of a different ethnic background, and most of us wouldn't even think of venturing in certain parts of town, because, well, that is where the bad, "insert ethnic group here", poor, druggies, drunks, live. We base our feelings based solely on who we think people are. Sometimes, we are afraid of people just because they look or act different.

This is never going to change. Society is always going to place stereotypes on certain people. The sad thing though, this same attitude has become pervasive in the church, and yes, even in the apostolic, pentecostal movement. If people do not fit our mold, we assign them a type, and we don't fellowship, associate, or God forbid, allow them to participate in our services. This is a travesty, and I am certain God is not proud of us.

We have become the Levite, willing to pray for the sick, hurt, abused, outsider, but we will not cross the street to see if we can help somehow. It is killing our churches, and it will change us all.

The scripture says, "I looked for one to stand in the gap, and didn't find one." That is the generation we live in. We are blessed, no doubt, and we think we have the best preachers, singers, teachers, that money can buy. Yes, I said that money can buy, because some churches base who is good enough to be even a praise singer, based on how much money they put in the offering or how much tithe they pay. Yes, it is a fact. It shouldn't be, but it is.

Countless churches build edifaces to themselves on the notion that they are building for revival. They take man-made objects and elevate the style of the building, and yes, even the style of worship on what they percieve is what is wanted in this 'contemporary society.' They call themselves apostolic, because Pentecostals have become more mainstream and even trinity, and they cannot possibly be associated with that. How arrogant we have become, in our standards and attitudes about others.

There are many churches created solely from people who have been hurt, and yet we claim God can heal, deliver, etc and that He is bringing revival while people who have gone to church for decades are headed out the door in marital problems, financial issues, or simply because they have realized no one really cares about them. I know I sound angry. I am!

The prophets of old were angry when they saw the people of God breaking the very rules of God simply because it wasn't the way they wanted to live. We have joined society in pushing aside people and our excuse is they must not have had a great relationship with Christ. Really? Just this past week someone told me the reason for a situation in a family was because they were in rebellion against the pastor. I asked how they knew that, and the lady talking to me, said "Honey, everyone knows they were out of line, just ask anyone in our church." Appalling.

Jesus came to heal, save, and deliver, but we have taken his message and used it to puff ourselves up; create cliques; and decide who is worthy of the blood. I am ashamed for everytime, I have thought of approaching someone to just be nice, and walked away because, they were fat, or weren't dressed right. How can we win the lost, or even be Godly ourselves if we categorize people?

We cannot.

Do you realize that had Jesus been born in our generation, he wouldn't have been allowed in our pulpits?

He was concieved in an unmarried woman, and so automatically some would have looked down on her. He came and made himself of none effect; in other words he chose to be born in a family that did not have wealth. His earthly parents made do with what they had, or worked hard. Even in the bible he wasn't considered a 'man of God.' They called him the carpenter's son. He did not many miracles amongst his own because of their unbelief in his power. Appalling I know, but in reality, we wouldn't have treated him any better.

There are always discussions about whether Jesus had a beard or long hair. He walked everywhere, or caught a ride, because he didn't own his own transportation. He didn't even own property, and slept wherever he could find rest.


He is the one we serve, and yet we won't show up to donate food most of the time to foodbanks, let alone give a homeless man a sandwich. I could go on and on, but I think you can get my point.

Jesus said 'inasmuch as you have done it unto others you have done it unto me.'

This doesn't just apply to feeding the hungry, but it also applies to those who are hurting, or perhaps have an unused ministry.

Why, preachers, pastors, do we not use the tools, talents, abilities God has given us? I know of ministers who have been pastors for years, and are now cast aside like yesterday's leftovers, while we bring in people without anointing to be the ministers. I was told by a friend of a pastor who uses his backslidden sons for his worship leaders when he knows the night before they were playing in a dance band at a local bar? WHAT?

It has been a long time, since I heard some elderly sister wail in the corner for lost souls. It has been a long time, since the value of people was not based on what they wore, or how they looked, but it was based on how they worshipped.
Gone are the days when we labored in the altar for one soul who might need Christ. Now, it seems as soon as the message is over, we are already at the local fast-food place in our minds, and the altars are empty.

I know all churches are not like this, but there are so many that are, that I wonder when Christ does come will he find us watching, or checking out a menu at McDonalds?

Where is our burden? We preach about soul winning, revival, and loving our neighbor, while we wipe our hands with antibacterial handcream after shaking hands, if we even do? Have we know faith, no compassion left?

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be lost! Jesus said to go after the halt, the lame, the poor, the wretched, that his house may be full. I don't know when it became how much you can put in the offering made a difference in the eyes of Jesus. He said the least shall be the greatest, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and yet those with their heads bowed, sometimes in shame because they do not have the best, or cannot put much in the offering are looked at as less than good enough people. Disposable people.

Does anyone call them up when they miss a few services? Does anyone remember their name?

When he comes, there are going to be many who say, 'didn't we do this, or that in thy name?' He is going to shake his head sadly and say, 'I don't know you.' It really isn't what big thing we do for Christ, although that is what we say. It isn't the amount of money we put in the offering. It isn't whether or not we look the part. It isn't even if we can preach good.

It is whether we have done what we could to lift our brother who is hurting. It is whether or not we have called the lonely, or taken them out for a hamburger. It is the ones, that stoop low, and wash their brother's dirty feet, and give a blanket to the widow woman that are going to be sitting there next to Jesus on that day; the ones who have done to the least of these, have done it unto me.

Jun 14, 2008

Is This It?

Many nights lately I have woken up in the middle of a fitful sleep with a burden and a lot of questions.

We see changes in the weather that are unprecedented with destruction and grief. Just this morning there was a huge earthquaking shaking Japan; last week a torndao slammed a direct hit on a boy scout camp in Iowa, to say nothing of the rampant water, rain and destruction as homes are swept away in the seemingly unending storms. I cannot recall in my short life when there has been so many wild storms that appear out of nowhere and leave many homeless, tired, and broken in their wake.

In the past few weeks, the courts have approve of gay marriage, shut down the trials of some of those responsible for the devestation on 9/11, and one judge was removed from a case because it was found the evidence in the case he was administering was on his own personal website and it dealt with child pornography. Crazy people shooting up schools, a bottling plant was the last place two women spent time yesterday and last week two little girls out for a walk were gunned down by an unknown assailant.

We have a well known celebrity who has decided she is 'her own personal god' and she has a force life around her drawing the masses into her delusions. She is backing the first african american president our country has seen whose theme has become change is coming, and he has so many skeletons in his closet it seems a new one falls out every day. There is a lack of concern and respect for each other that is unseen in our lives.

My soul is stirred and broken over the mess we have gotten ourselves into, and it appears there is no hope for America, our world, or even our very souls. Someone mentioned the other day that there is a suicide every 15 seconds somewhere; souls going to a devil's hell without the answers they needed.

At times, I wonder where are the preachers, prophets, and those who have been given the keys to winning the battles of life. I stop and look in the mirror because how can I cast stones when I sit idly by as the crushing blows of sin takes its toll and another soul is destined for hell.

Gone are the days when men and women would labor in the altar for souls long after the last amen and people were walking out the doors of our sanctuaries. We talk about soul winning, we raise funds for missions, but in the end we sit on the pew through a few songs, jot down a note or two, maybe clap or even raise our hands and shout with the preacher and walk out into the world dying around us oblivious to the loss and pain others are feeling.

Our songs have become about the beat and the repeated phrases written by many who have yet to know God, and we wonder in our own minds if the 'truth' we have preached for so many years is really that important because the church down the block is filled to capacity and they are building a cathedral to dishonesty and delusions rather than stop people in their tracks with what the Bible really says.

We have become a social place to gather together on Sunday Morning and feel passified in our self righteousness and portions of praise all the while saints, youth, and children on the pews who really need to get the message are going to hell on the pews. Our ministers don't preach the heart-wrenching soul shaking messages that they used to. They preach a sermon they found online or in a book and feel like they have done their duty. It is about grace and mercy and how God can forgive, and he does, but is that enough to make us ready for heaven? I miss the cross and the shame and reproach my master bore for my own personal sins.

I know the messages have to burn with inside us; they do in me, but they don't seem to make it from our hearts to our mouths and we wait on someone else to be stirred with desire for the lost so we don't feel guilty about our dwindling attendance. It isn't really our fault people have little love for the message anymore is it?

Do we even remember? The power packed sermons where saints and sinners alike ran from their pews to the altar shaking under the anointed word of God; the lady in the corner wailing in intercession; those slain in the spirit strewn across the floor of the church, lost in his spirit. And when we left and went home we were tired from the burdens we left at the altar but our spirits were refreshed from the power we felt, and we went to bed knowing we had been with almighty God.

Man, I miss those days. I know many say they have great services, and some I am sure do feel the power of God like they used to. However, there are many churches where if Jesus was to walk into the service he would wonder why we spend so much time on fundraising and decor, and why we are dressed to impress everyone we meet, but our eyes have not seen tears of empathy and worship of the one who really we should worry about impressing.

I know several ministers who have just quit. They don't preach, they don't always even show up to church, and some have backslid forgetting the very messages they used to scream from the pulpit. Can God be happy about what we have become? Should we? We get so caught up in personality and the appearances of holiness, but our hearts our empty and we just stumble through life unaware that the spirit has left.

We do need change. He is coming, and He is coming soon.

The Bible says in the last days men's lives will quake for fear. Our mental hospitals are full of depressed Christians popping pills because the power of God is not enough anymore.

The Bible says there will be signs in the heavens and in the earth. How much more disaster, famine, earth shaking situations can we go through?

The Bible talks about wars and rumors of wars. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, .... need I say more?

Men have become lovers of self more than lovers of God. We worship things more than the creator. We invest our time, our energy, our money in the next big program, when He is crying out, "Why am I not enough?"

Yes, He is coming. It doesn't matter if our church has one person, or 5 million. He is coming again. The mission is not about how many we have, although we need to take everyone we can. Our duty is to just really do the best we can to reach the lost. One soul won is better than 10,000 you haven't spoken to, one soul going down in his name shakes the very heavens.

He is coming back soon. Are we ready? Or are we going to keep wandering through life and someday find out we never made it either? He that winneth souls is wise. Look to the skys and ask yourself "Is this it, and what do I have to show for it?"

Lord Jesus forgive us and help us to bless you with our compassion and passion.